Hawkeyes look to contain Iowa St QB Steele Jantz
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP)
Then Jantz essentially disappeared for 12 months.
He didn't come close to replicating his four-touchdown performance in the 44-41, triple-overtime win over the Hawkeyes until last weekend. Jantz thrived in his second chance as Iowa State's starter, throwing for a career-high 281 yards and scoring three TDs as the Cyclones beat Tulsa 38-23 in its opener.
The Hawkeyes (1-0) get another shot at stopping Jantz when they host Iowa State (1-0) on Saturday. Iowa coaches know containing Jantz will be critical, based on what they saw from him last season and last week.
''It was like his highlight reel,'' Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said of Jantz's performance against the Hawkeyes in 2011. ''But he had a really good game Saturday. I think the difference now is he's a year older ... he's an experienced player, a lot more confident.''
The Hawkeyes have won 23 of the 35 games against Iowa State since the series resumed in 1977, including four in a row at Kinnick Stadium.
But there's little question which of the two teams looked better in the opener.
The Cyclones bounced back from a shaky first quarter and scored 24 straight points to put away a Tulsa team expected to compete for the Conference USA title.
Iowa State's rebuilt defense rallied after a safety and then a Jantz interception put the Golden Hurricane in position to score two quick touchdowns. The Cyclones held their opponent scoreless in the second and third quarters, and Deon Broomfield's late interception of Tulsa's Cody Green set up a game-clinching TD in the fourth.
Iowa State also got a boost from running back Shontrelle Johnson, who ran for 120 yards in his first game since neck surgery in late 2011.
''You spend eight months coaching and showing the team the things you need to do to be successful,'' Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. ''And with that success, you gain credibility as a staff, and with that credibility comes confidence. And with that confidence comes an attitude and a performance on the practice field.''
Iowa had a much tougher time with Northern Illinois.
The Hawkeyes held the defending Mid-American Conference champions to just 201 yards and got 150 yards rushing from new starter Damon Bullock. But Iowa's passing game was surprisingly stagnant behind senior quarterback James Vandenberg, who threw for just 129 yards on 33 passes and no touchdowns.
The Hawkeyes had to settle for four field goals - including three inside the Huskies' 20-yard line - and didn't lead in the second half until Bullock's game-winning 23-yard TD run with 2:15 left gave them an 18-17 win.
It was Iowa's first game under new offensive coordinator Greg Davis after spending 13 seasons under current Miami Dolphins assistant Ken O'Keefe. It was clear that the Hawkeyes and Davis are still trying to figure each other out.
''We've got new guys who haven't played much. There's a whole new system. There's a lot of nuances to what we're doing on Saturdays now, and as we go on and on those will continue to get cleaner,'' Vandenberg said.
The Cyclones still can't be certain whether Jantz will play like the guy who torched Iowa in 2011 or the one who lost his starting job a month later because of inconsistency and a foot injury. Jantz's decision making and accuracy, two sources of consternation for Iowa State in 2011, appeared to be a lot better against Tulsa. Jantz completed 32 of 45 passes with that lone interception.
''It's all about decision making. Saturday was better but I still need to get better,'' Jantz said. ''I feel a lot more confident.''
Jantz did most of his damage against Iowa last season with his feet. He kept plays alive by dodging defenders outside of the pocket, and Iowa knows it can't let Jantz scramble his way to success for the second year in a row.
''Might be a good idea if we try to keep him contained a little bit,'' Ferentz said. ''We kind of forgot that last year. And it's easier said than done.''