Notebook: Efficiency, flash distinguish Barnett, Jantz in QB battle


Photo: Tim Reuter/Iowa State Daily

Quarterback Steele Jantz, seen here preparing to throw during the spring game on Saturday, April 18, was named the starter for the 2011 season. The Cyclones’ first game is Sept. 3 against Northern Iowa

Dan Tracy

With just two practices and Saturday’s spring game remaining before the ISU quarterback battle takes a four-month recess, ISU coach Paul Rhoads gave his straightforward take on the two quarterbacks — redshirt sophomore Jared Barnett and senior Steele Jantz — at a news conference Monday.

“To be the quarterback, you should have close to as thorough an understanding as the coach does and I don’t think [Jantz and Barnett] had that a season ago,” Rhoads said. “I think they’re a lot closer to that right now, I think they can give you answers, I think they can tell you why.”

Although the offense committed five turnovers, Rhoads still felt that both players steered the offensive units to production in the team’s second intrasquad scrimmage this past Saturday.

“Jared was very efficient with his reps,” Rhoads said. “He’s not a flashy guy he doesn’t have the biggest arm, but his football teams were productive.

“Steele was a little flashy. He showed us the same guy that we saw in the first two-and-a-half games [last season] with his escapability, with his ability to make people miss and he does have great velocity on his ball.”

Rhoads pointed to decision-making and comfort level in the offense as the two areas where both signal callers have made the biggest strides since the Pinstripe Bowl last season in which both failed to spark the ISU offense in a 27-13 loss to Rutgers.

With a smaller playbook under new offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham, Rhoads has noticed through the charting of each player’s post-snap reads in practice that both Barnett and Jantz have made fewer mistakes and better decisions heading into the final week of spring practices.

“We have tried to make it more easily managed by them and I think their play has elevated because of that,” Rhoads said.

Freshman Floridians set to splash in spring game

Currently listed right behind Barnett and Jantz on the depth chart at quarterback is redshirt freshman Sam Richardson who, along with wide receiver Quenton Bundrage, are two of 16 Sunshine State natives on the ISU roster that will suit up Saturday.

Rhoads labeled Richardson as “the most natural” among the three quarterbacks on Monday, saying he makes things on the field look easy sometimes while at other times forcing things and looking like the redshirt freshman that he is.

“My goal is to put myself in a position where I can win us games if I need to,” Richardson said when asked about his goal for next fall. “If I’m given the opportunity to play, obviously I just want be ready to be put into the game and have the coaches comfortable with me in there as well as the teammates that are on the field with me.”

A three-year letterwinner at Winter Park High School, the 6-foot-2-inch, 204-pound Richardson will take his first snap in front of fans at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday.

“As an individual, I just want to go out there and show what I can do with the ball and show the skills that I bring to the table for the coaches and just to reassure them that I’m ready for an opportunity,” Richardson said.

One of two former Manatee High School preps on the squad — along with defensive tackle Quinton Pompey — Bundrage received many visits from ISU defensive line coach Shane Burnham throughout the recruiting process.

“Coach Burnham came in from the get-go when I first started getting offers and he just never left,” Bundrage said. “That shows how much he really wanted me here at Iowa State and how loyal he was.”

Bundrage, who high jumped 6-8 in high school, has been touted as one of the best athletes among the team’s current receiving corps. After learning more about Iowa State’s offense, Bundrage feels prepared to contribute in 2012.

“I came in and kind of expected to get in a little bit and play, but obviously you see I didn’t play,” Bundrage said. “I didn’t really know the plays that well, so it was a good thing that I redshirted and got back in the weight room. That really helped me out for this spring to come in and compete.”

Burris, Dika sidelined for Saturday

Rhoads said Tuesday that two ISU offensive linemen who missed time due to injuries last season will miss Saturday’s spring game as well.

Redshirt senior Brayden Burris will be sidelined with a sprained ankle and redshirt sophomore Shaban Dika tore his ACL in his knee. Dika will undergo surgery Thursday.

“Losing Shaban is hard,” Rhoads said. “We think Shaban really had an opportunity to challenge for a starting position for us, so [I’m] disappointed in that.”

Both players were listed on the Cyclones’ two-deep depth chart released at the beginning of spring practice with Burris slotted as the No. 1 at right tackle and Dika behind redshirt sophomore Jacob Gannon at right guard.

Burris, who started last season at right tackle, broke a bone in his leg in Iowa State’s fourth game of the season against Texas, but returned to start in the final three games.

Dika played significantly at right guard in Iowa State’s season opener against Northern Iowa last season before suffering a MCL injury the next week and missing the remainder of the season.

Rhoads also noted that redshirt senior defensive end Roosevelt Maggitt may or may not play as he continues to recover from a torn ACL he suffered last season.

“Rosie Maggitt will be back in team drills this week, but I still might hold him out of the spring game, then again he might play,” Rhoads said.

Saturday’s spring game kicks off at Jack Trice Stadium at 2 p.m. and is free to the public.