State quarterback

Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes looks to recover from an inconsistent season and fight to remain the starter.
Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones kick-started his college career by lighting up the scoreboard against some of the best competition in the nation and winning a national championship in his first three games. The offensive outburst by the redshirt sophomore prompted an outpouring of praise for Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer and his ability to recruit and coach a roster with three All-American caliber quarterbacks.

Back on the 40 Acres, the mood was a little more gloomy. Jones’ downfield rockets and Meyer’s bold and creative play calling stood in stark contrast to the Longhorns’ dismal performance at the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl, where the burnt orange and white accumulated only 59 yards of total offense.

If the Longhorns want to rejoin Ohio State as college football royalty, they will need to find a quarterback and coaching duo to lead the way. The options at quarterback look promising, as Texas will likely burn freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard’s redshirt next season, and sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes will have the off season to develop. Kyler Murray, five-star quarterback recruit and Texas A&M commit, even stopped by the University of Texas campus for a visit Wednesday.

The tutelage of Shawn Watson, Texas’ assistant head coach for offense and quarterbacks, who coached current Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater at Louisville, is set to launch one of the Longhorn quarterbacks into All-American consideration. At this point, however, it is hard to tell if Watson is the right man to coach Heard, Swoopes or any other quarterback on the roster.

Watson was a member of head coach Charlie Strong’s staff at Louisville when the Vikings drafted Bridgewater, but it is still unclear at the moment whether it was Watson who bolstered Bridgewater to prominence or the other way around.

When at Louisville, Bridgewater was a mobile quarterback who could still thrive when sitting back and embracing his role as a pocket passer. Watson tried to run a similar offense in his first year of play-calling duties at Texas, but to no avail.

Swoopes showed he is not Bridgewater, as he often looked uncomfortable dropping back and scanning the defense — a requirement for a pocket passer. When the offense went downhill in the Kansas State game, Watson and the rest of the staff seemed to make little effort to change the game plan in order to attempt to use Swoopes’ powerful legs to their advantage.

Heard is the clear next-in-line if the “Tyrone Swoopes experiment” does not work out, but his blazing speed appears to be better suited for an offense that avoids under-center sets and embraces the option. It has yet been determined whether Heard can achieve success when sitting back and reading a defense. If he cannot do so, the Longhorns will have to spend springtime courting pocket passers or start making serious changes to the offense.

Watson showed moments of brilliance as a play caller, even with a patchwork offensive line. But if Watson’s young quarterbacks prove incapable of being pocket passers during spring practice, he will have to put Louisville’s formula for success behind him and tweak the offense in a way that better incorporates his quarterbacks’ skill sets.

Quarterback Steele Jantz looks to pass on Sept. 10 at Jack Trice Stadium against Northern Iowa. Jantz finished the game with 279 yards passing with four touchdowns and 42 yards rushing.

Photo Credit: Gene Pavelko | Iowa State Daily

Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz has led the Cyclones to the team’s first 3-0 start since 2005. His stats would make you
think otherwise.

Jantz has completed 57.5 percent of his passes, with six touchdowns and six interceptions.

“They’re good things, obviously, winning three games,” Jantz said. “But beyond that, I’ve got to minimize a lot of mistakes and, speaking for the offense, we’ve got a long way to go.”

The junior competed for the starting job at Iowa State with Jerome Tiller and Jared Barnett throughout the summer and was given the job two weeks before the season. Jantz can play with his feet and is known for keeping plays, and his team, alive in games.

“You can talk leadership, moxie, you can talk all those thing, but his production when those games have been on the line?” said Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads. “He’s delivered throwing the ball and he’s delivered running the ball.”
Rhoads believes that Jantz has turned the ball over too many times and that consistency is something he needs to work on.

But, he said Jantz is only getting better.

“He’s made a higher number than we would like of poor decisions,” Rhoads said. “He’s made great decisions and he’s made some spectacular plays. I would say at this point he’s inconsistent. Certainly not unusual for a first-time starter at this level, coming off a successful junior college career.”

Jantz is a transfer from San Francisco Community College. According to Mack Brown, he has been compared to a young Aaron Rodgers, who transferred to Berkeley from Butte Community College.

Texas linebacker Jordan Hicks said in order to win the game, the Longhorns must stop Jantz.

“He’s good at extending the play,” Hicks said. “We have to get after him a little bit and be able to contain him and stop him.”
Jantz’s own teammates are impressed with his ability to move.

“I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something about him, he just makes plays and finds a way,” said Iowa State running back Shontrelle Johnson after the Cyclone’s 44-41 triple-overtime win over Iowa.

Iowa State linebacker Jake Knott said Jantz is deceptively fast and he is smooth in his playmaking.

In all three games this season, Jantz has led fourth-quarter comebacks. He had a quarterback sneak in the final seconds against Northern Iowa and two fourth-down conversions in the Cyclone’s overtime win over Iowa. Iowa State has always had trouble beating rival, Iowa.

Although Jantz has struggled with consistency, he has thrown for 666 yards this season and run for 112 yards. Mack Brown has been impressed with Jantz’s ability to lead the Cyclones to victory despite adversity.

“Not only did he bring them back [against Iowa], 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,” Brown said.

Jantz was named Big 12 offensive player of the week after the team’s comeback win over Iowa. In the game, Jantz threw for 279 yards and four touchdowns. He led the team to three-straight touchdown drives. This was only his second game at Iowa State.

But in the Cyclone’s win over 24-20 win over Connecticut, Jantz had three interceptions on his first four pass attempts. In that game, he suffered a sprained foot.

Although he limped off the field and it appeared that he was finished for the game, he led the team to a comeback victory over the Huskies with his fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Darius Reynolds.

“I haven’t missed anything,” Jantz said. “In practice I haven’t been running as much but not really missing anything.”

He said by Saturday, he will be 100 percent, and for the Longhorns, that could be a bad thing.

Published on September 30, 2011 as: Dual-threat Jantz leading Cyclone charge