Jantz, Cyclones gear up for Cy-Hawk football


Starting quarterback Steele Jantz threw for two touchdowns in Iowa State’s 38-23 win against Tulsa. Jantz was 3-4 as a starter before getting benched last season.

Jake Calhoun

Steele Jantz does not need any reminders of last season.

Games riddled with interceptions and head shaking for the ISU quarterback were highlighted by a four-touchdown, zero-interception performance in the Cyclones’ 44-41 triple-overtime victory against Iowa.

Whether that particular experience against Iowa would be helpful this season, Jantz digressed any specificity for this matchup.

“Any time you face a team before — whether it’s Iowa or any team — it helps going into the second year,” Jantz said. “I know it was a good win for us, and it was kind of a crazy game, but just the fact that we’ve played them once is helpful.”

Jantz scrambled for 59 yards in last year’s battle, but ISU coach Paul Rhoads said that part of his game is much less expected this time around.

“That part of the game that you saw a year ago, I don’t think will be there,” Rhoads said. “He’s not going to break contain, he’s not going to get out of that pocket and create the things like he did a year ago.”

Rhoads said that in place of Jantz’s impromptu scrambling, there will be improved execution of the offense for the Cyclones’ yearly Cy-Hawk rivalry game against Iowa, which will kick off at 2:42 p.m. in Kinnick Stadium.

Iowa State has not won at Kinnick since 2002, when then-quarterback Seneca Wallace rallied the team from a 17-point halftime deficit to win 36-31.

“It’s a tough environment to play in; I played there freshman year, and I’ll never forget playing there,” said running back Shontrelle Johnson. “It feels like the floor is shaking, you can’t hear anything. Guys have to be on their Ps and Qs as far as communication and making the right calls.”

Rhoads said he brought in speakers to simulate crowd noise for his team’s practices this week, previously joking, “We bring strangers in off the street and let them stand there along our sidelines.”

Even with a new offensive and defensive coordinator, the Cyclones (1-0) are still going to prepare for similar schemes that were apparent in game film from this season.

“They’re a pro-style offense, they like to run the ball and they’re going to run the ball,” said linebacker A.J. Klein. “It doesn’t matter what their running back depth is, I know they’re still going to find some talent to put back there that can handle the offense.”

Running back Damon Bullock rushed for 150 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown in the Hawkeyes’ 18-17 win against Northern Illinois in Chicago last weekend.

Despite how the outcome of that game looks on paper for the Hawkeyes (1-0), Rhoads said the main takeaway was they still won and will be confident heading into Saturday.

“Any time you can win a football game, you walk away pleased with the result and with a victory comes confidence,” Rhoads said. “It doesn’t matter whether you won by 15 or you won by one: There’s a lot to teach off [of]; there’s a lot to learn coming off your opening game.”

One major key for the ISU defense this time will be the defensive line’s new-and-improved rotation that saw 12 players — three for each of the four positions — take snaps to keep players from getting fatigued in the later moments of a game.

Senior linebacker Jake Knott said the new rotation that worked to fruition against Tulsa last weekend will come in handy against a highly revered U of I offensive line unit that is known for producing talent.

“Their line is always physical: They’re fast; they’re in your face,” Knott said. “If you can hopefully wear them down with the amount of energy that your defensive line brings every single snap because you can rotate in like that, hopefully that goes into our favor and helps us out.”

As for Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, he will be hoping to even the score after last season’s loss dipped his overall record to 6-7 against the Cyclones as coach of the Hawkeyes.

“It’s never fun,” Ferentz said in May at a Hawkeye I-Club rally in Arcadia, Iowa. “Unfortunately, I’ve been involved in a few of them. It’s never fun, and that’s true of losses to anybody. But they deserved to win that day; they were a better football team than we were. They outplayed us, and the credit goes to them.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 2:42 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.