Coach Paul Rhoads and coordinator Tom Herman frequently mention the importance of a mobile quarterback. In ISU’s offense, the QB is the runner unaccounted for by the defense.
With that in mind, one of the season’s most important plays was the second-to-last play of the first half at UConn when Steele Jantz ran for no gain. Jantz injured his ankle and his reduced mobility took away a key option.
With a healthy quarterback in 2011, the Cyclones have converted 47% of their third-down plays. In games when a gimpy Jantz was behind center, Iowa State converted 32% of its third downs.
Here is a further breakdown.
· Jantz converted 10 third- or fourth-down plays with runs in the two-and-a-half games before his injury. Four of those runs were 10 yards or longer.
· The Cyclones had only four third- or fourth-down conversions (one longer than 10 yards) in the losses against Texas, Baylor and Missouri when Jantz was hurt.
· In the last three games, Jared Barnett has played extensively and produced 11 third- or fourth-down conversions on the ground. Seven of those were at least 10 yards long.
Moving the chains is a key to any offense. In Iowa State’s system, the threat of a runner at QB compliments the tailback run game as well as the pass offense.
When Jantz was healthy, he averaged 15.2 runs per game. Playing hurt for three-and-a-half games, Jantz carried it less than 10 times per game (1.4 yards per carry). Barnett has carried the ball nearly 18 times per game and, most importantly, averaged 5.2 yards per attempt.
It’s not difficult to understand the importance of a mobile QB. Barnett’s emergence has brought back the element of the quarterback run. As Jantz gets healthy, the Cyclones could have multiple options for this key role and that would be a great asset.Reader feedback is welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow