Casual observers of the Iowa State football program might point to a mid-season change at quarterback – from Steele Jantz to Jared Barnett – as a turning point of the season.
But, that’s not reality. The Cyclones, in fact, have won the same number of games with each player behind center.“We don’t have six wins without the play of Jantz,” Coach Paul Rhoads said.
The second-half-of-the-season surge has been led by the defense.
After surrendering 37, 49 and 52 points in consecutive weeks against Texas, Baylor and Missouri, the Cyclone defense has stepped up. Consider the facts:
· Iowa State held Texas A&M to 33 points, eight below the Aggies’ season average;
· The Cyclones held then 19th-ranked Texas Tech to seven points, 25 points below the Red Raiders’ season average;
· Kansas scored 10 points – 13.5 below its average – at Ames;
· No. 2 Oklahoma State scored 31points (in double overtime), nearly 20 points below its average of 50 ppg.
Perhaps, people are starting to notice the ISU defense. Linebacker A.J. Klein was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week vs. OSU after registering 14 tackles and a forced fumble.
“I’m happy that a Cyclone finally won that award,” Rhoads said. “We’ve had some other players deserving earlier this season.”Reader feedback is welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow