The lesson Iowa State is so gleefully learning this year is the same one Texas learned the hard way last season.
It doesn’t matter who you’ve got on defense, how many skill players you’ve got on offense or how good of coaching you’ve got.
It’s the quarterback that’s the most important position on the field. A good one gets you to a bowl game. A bad one flushes you down the toilet.
This year’s new-and-improved Cyclones illustrate that better than anybody in the nation. Junior college transplant Steele Jantz has made the difference for a team most thought would once again finish in the cellar of the Big 12. ISU is 3-0, suddenly has a legitimate home-field advantage, suddenly has some national acclaim. When’s the last time this team was this relevant?
You’d have to go back to the days of Seneca Wallace, one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the conference.
Told you those guys make all the difference.
On the year, Jantz has posted a harrowing-yet-solid stat line: 61-for-106, 666 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions.
Indeed, we thought it’d be a cold day in hell if the Cyclones were ever among the top-25 teams in the nation. They’re knocking on the door now.
Remember when the same was said about Baylor? Enter, Robert Griffin III. Figured the same thing about Kansas, too. Then came Todd Reasing, who carried the Jayhawks to an Orange Bowl win in 2008.
Believe it or not, ISU does have a nice little quarterback history. Wallace was followed by Bret Meyer, who was followed by Austen Arnaud. Steele carries that torch, but there’s just something different about him that neither Meyer nor Arnaud had.
Could be he’s a winner. At the City College of San Francisco, he led the team to the California State community college title game, racking up 3,676 total yards and 37 total touchdowns along the way.
“Their quarterback has been a key for their 3-0 start,” said Texas head coach Mack Brown. “And he’s been the surprise of their team because they weren’t sure who the quarterback would be after the young man graduated last year.”
So Jantz has been the missing piece. He has a good offensive line to protect him — Kelechi Osemele could be a first-round pick in next year’s NFL Draft — and some talented players around him. But there’s no question the Cyclones would not be 3-0 without him. Actually, they might have been 0-3.
Jantz led a furious comeback against Northern Iowa in Week 1, running in for the go-ahead score with 40 seconds left. Matches against Iowa and Connecticut were the same story: ISU falls behind early, Jantz brings them back.
“Watching the Iowa comeback was unbelievable because they’ve had trouble beating Iowa,” Brown said. “And not only did Jantz bring them back, but the play he made on the goal line where he runs up inside and bounces back out and sprints to the right and hits the guy to win the game in overtime was just an amazing play.
“I think right now Iowa State players and coaches really believe he’s the guy.”
Good for the Cyclones. They needed one of those.
Printed on September 30, 2011 as: Jantz proves that good teams need good QB play