Iowa State QB race still even

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 14, 2012
Iowa State quarterbacks Jared Barnett and Steele Jantz remain right where they stood when spring practice started - dead even in the race for the starting job. Both had their moments in the Cyclones' spring game Saturday. They made some good throws and they were nimble and elusive running the ball, but coach Paul Rhoads was disappointed in their interceptions. In fact, Rhoads said neither was as sharp as they've been in practice. And neither moved ahead of the other in their scramble to become the starter. ''I think we're right where we started off,'' Rhoads said. ''When we get started in August, we'll see who wants to perform. A timetable, I don't know. We'll just see. When I know we've got a (number) one, I'll tell you.'' While it's always been a two-man race, redshirt freshman Sam Richardson might get some consideration after his performance in the final session of spring practice. Richardson directed the longest scoring drive of the day, a 15-play, 89-yard march that he finished with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Tad Ecby, the only offensive TD of the day. ''I think Jared and Steele are clearly ahead of Sam just because of age and experience, but she's a race,'' Rhoads said. ''And I'm not going to say Sam's out of it.'' Barnett, who'll be a sophomore in the fall, started six games in 2011 and led the Cyclones to upsets of Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. He completed 11 of 21 passes for 67 yards and was intercepted twice in Saturday's game. He also ran 11 times for 54 yards. Linebacker A.J. Klein returned one of Barnett's interceptions 94 yards for a touchdown. ''I didn't make good enough decisions with the ball in my hands,'' Barnett said. ''I tried to force a couple of throws, which caused the interceptions. I was able to use my feet, which was good, but I have to make better decisions with the ball in my hands.'' Jantz, heading into his senior season, frustrated opponents with his ability to escape pressure last fall before injuring a foot and losing the starting job to Barnett. He showed no signs of that injury when running the ball Saturday and was accurate with his passing, completing 20 of 32 for 161 yards, including a nicely thrown ball on a 56-yard completion to Josh Lentz. Jantz, who transferred in last year from a California junior college, said he felt like he had a good spring. ''It went well,'' he said. ''It was good to be healthy. It was fun. That's one thing about it. Last year, it was hard. I was learning. This year was a lot of fun. It went by really fast.'' Jantz and Richardson each threw one interception. ''I didn't think those interceptions were all great defensive plays,'' Rhoads said. ''I think the offense hurt themselves in that regard.'' Another closely watched player was Jerome Tiller, a former quarterback who converted to wide receiver last fall after he was declared academically ineligible. In his first public appearance at the position, Tiller caught five passes for 44 yards, including a leaping grab of a pass from Jantz for a 22-yard gain. ''I feel like he got really, really, really good toward the end,'' Barnett said. ''We weren't sure what kind of play we were going to get from JT going into the spring, but now coming out, we know he has a lot of potential. He showed it today. He went up and got a ball and made a great catch, then he caught a slant over the middle. I feel like he's really going to be able to help us in the fall.'' Tiller said the game wasn't any different from practice. ''You've got to focus on catching the passes,'' he said. ''Catching is second nature out there.'' All-Big 12 linebacker Jake Knott, cornerback Jeremy Reeves and wide receivers Aaron Horne and Albert Gary missed the game because of injuries, but all are expected back in the fall. Iowa State opens the season Sept. 1 at home against Tulsa.
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