Iowa State looking to settle QB spot

DALLAS -- Iowa State has two quarterbacks who proved their ability to win games in tight spots, but for now, the Cyclones have zero clarity on who'll be starting when they open the season against Tulsa on Sept. 1.

"We most definitely need better play from the quarterback position if we're going to become a better football team, and namely in the area of accuracy," coach Paul Rhoads said. "We threw too many to the wrong-colored jersey."

Jared Barnett, a sophomore (6), and Steele Jantz, a senior juco transfer (11), threw a combined 17 interceptions to 16 touchdowns.

"If we're going to be a better offensive football team, which is very important in this league to be a better football team," Rhoads said, "it's going to take better quarterback play."

Jantz won a three-man battle last fall and led the Cyclones to three consecutive fourth-quarter comebacks to begin the season, including a three-overtime win over rival Iowa -- Rhoads' first over the Hawkeyes as Iowa State coach -- and a road comeback against Connecticut on a nationally televised Friday night showcase.

Jantz's propensity for turnovers led to a midseason benching in a loss to Texas A&M in favor of Barnett. A week later, Barnett led the Cyclones to a blowout road win against Texas Tech, which broke Oklahoma's 39-game home winning streak a week earlier.

Two weeks after the shocking win against Texas Tech, Barnett made history with a double-overtime upset over No. 2 Oklahoma State, the best win in school history. It shook up the college landscape and helped Alabama meet LSU in an SEC rematch for the national title.

However, Barnett's own inconsistency when it came to accuracy led to a benching of his own in favor of Jantz, who earned playing time in a Pinstripe Bowl loss to Rutgers.

Seven months later, still nothing is settled.

"It will be easier for us in this fall camp than it was a year ago because we truthfully had three guys competing a year ago, and this year we've only got two," Rhoads said. "You're looking at a system devised by Coach [Courtney] Messingham to divide up those repetitions, one guy with the one and the other guy with the twos, and give them the equal amount of looks, 7-on-7 in team situations that they need with those guys to earn the position.

"We'll have three scrimmages at that point where I'll probably make my decision, and those scrimmages play out on a Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday, and it will give those boys ample opportunity to show they deserve to be our starter."