COMMENTARY: Jantz’s ups and downs will guide Cyclones

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Former Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz looks for an open player downfield. Jantz struggled after the first quarter, throwing two interceptions and completing 66 percent of his passes. Iowa State defeated Iowa 9-6 Sept. 8, 2012, at Kinnick Stadium.

Dean Berhow-Goll

Some of the things Steele Jantz has done through the air in the first two games has clearly surprised people. At the same time, some of it has not.

In the first quarter of the Cyclones’ win against Tulsa, Jantz completed six-of-10 passing, including a 43-yard strike to senior wideout Josh Lenz on a deep post midway through the quarter.

Last year in the first game of the season against Northern Iowa, Jantz completed only three of his seven passes for 14 yards. He also had two interceptions in that quarter that came in back-to-back drives.

The contrast in those numbers is incredibly vast, especially since Tulsa is arguably a stronger opening day opponent than Northern Iowa. Therefore, it was a big surprise to everyone Jantz opened the way he did against Tulsa in week one.

It’s the same case against Iowa. Jantz’s first drive at Kinnick Stadium — a place no Cyclone has won since 2002 — was similar to week one. He connected on all five of his passes with the only incompletion being negated by a defensive pass interference call. Jantz capped off that drive with a touchdown to Aaron Horne on a crossing route over the middle.

His first two quarters in each game have combined for 13-of-17 for 138 yards and two touchdowns. 

Those numbers have no doubt surprised some people.

Jantz has completed 56 of his passes so far this year, which puts him at No. 9 in the nation for completions.

Only four more completions separate him from being in the top five and only four players have completed more than 60 passes so far this year. His completion percentage is at 69.1 percent, which puts him in the top 30 nationally.

Those numbers have no doubt surprised nearly everyone.

On the other hand, Jantz did some things in the Iowa game that reminded us a lot of the 2011 Jantz, who threw more interceptions than touchdowns and was benched midseason for backup quarterback Jared Barnett.

Three times the ISU quarterback turned the ball over, one of them an interception at midfield and the other two coming inside the Hawkeyes’ 11-yard line.

Both interceptions came at the end of the halves — the first one occurred with 1:45 on the clock around midfield; the second pick came as Iowa State was about to score and put the game out of reach.

Jantz said after the game he tried to look off the Mike linebacker, James Morris. He said Morris initially moved, but when Jantz came back to throw it, Morris just made a “great play” on the ball to intercept it.

Then later in the third quarter, a fumble on a handoff-read play between Jantz and James White occurred in the third quarter at Iowa’s 11-yard line. White was credited with the fumble, but on an handoff-read, the quarterback is the one who chooses to give the ball or keep it.

Jantz displayed after the first two games that he is high-risk, high-reward.

If Iowa State hopes to win four of its nine conference games where five of those opponents are ranked in the top 16, they will need Jantz to be the high-reward quarterback they’ve seen at the beginning of games the past two weeks.

Dean Berhow-Goll is a junior in pre-journalism from Ventura, Iowa.