EDITORIAL: ISU spring game offers ‘iffy’ takeaways

Editorial Board

Unlike the behemoth attention surrounding Alabama’s spring football game — in which 78,526 people were in attendance — the ISU football team modestly held its spring football game last Saturday.

They kept score — we think — but much of the buzz was not about who won or lost, rather how the team looked in a sneak peek to the 2012 season.

And if we had to put it into words, “iffy” would certainly be one of them.

The defense played well, but whenever a team scrimmages itself, there will always be a winner and a loser.

On Saturday, the offense was definitely the loser.

Of the three quarterbacks — Jared Barnett, Steele Jantz and Sam Richardson — in contention for the starting spot, a combined four interceptions were thrown. Of those four interceptions, two came from the hands of Barnett, who got the start with the first-team offense in the first drive of the game.

The funny thing is that even with their experience having split starting duties last season, Barnett and Jantz were still outperformed by Richardson, who led the trio in completion percentage and was the only quarterback to pass for a touchdown in the game.

Still, a poor performance from Barnett and Jantz will not exactly be the indicative factor for who gets the first snaps come September, because they do have until then to have things figured out.

Coach Paul Rhoads also said Richardson is still behind Barnett and Jantz in terms of development with his comparative lack of experience, but he again stipulated Saturday that anything can happen between now and August.

On the defensive side, the play of the linebacking corps — minus team captain Jake Knott, who is recovering from shoulder surgery — has looked promising.

Jeremiah George has been lauded by Rhoads as the most improved player of this spring season. Defensive coordinator Wally Burnham even said George is one of the three most improved players of the spring, but joked that he doesn’t know who the other two are.

If George can keep up his improvement, he will be a sufficient replacement at sam linebacker for Matt Tau’fo’ou, who tied Leonard Johnson for fourth-most tackles on the team last season with 72.

Speaking of Johnson, his illustrious career as a four-year starter will be missed at the cornerback, but Jansen Watson has stepped up to fill his shoes this year.

Watson, a redshirt junior, only notched three tackles last Saturday, but we don’t know how indicative that is to how he will perform this season.

Besides, unlike Alabama, the ISU spring game wasn’t televised on local TV stations — or televised at all for that matter — so its prominence as a clear indicator of how the team will do next season is, well, “iffy.”

But, hey, it was nice to see some college football after being without it for what felt like forever.