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The Steele Flip

Jantz hasn't been mistake free in 2012, but there is something different about his performances this year.

Reese Strickland-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

It is a waffle that may make some politicians jealous. Last year, we hardly knew Steele Jantz, yet he was dubbed as a slow starter, a clutch quarterback, and a high risk/high reward signal caller. This year, it is much the same with a minor difference...the order in which his strengths and weaknesses play out

We saw it most prominently against UNI, UConn, Texas, Texas A&M, and Missouri in the 2011 season for Jantz. Very poor play early on that was sometimes salvaged with incredible fourth quarter improvements. This was never more evident than his end of season passer rating by quarter.

In 2011 Jantz's numbers by quarter looked like this:

  • 1st Quarter: 22/43, 218 yards, 1 TD, 7 INT - Passer Rating of 68.87
  • 2nd Quarter: 42/70, 338 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT - Passer Rating of 109.99
  • 3rd Quarter: 33/63, 418 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT - Passer Rating of 107.00
  • 4th Quarter: 37/77, 519 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT - Passer Rating of 120.91
  • Overtime (Iowa): 4/6, 26 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT - Passer Rating of 158.07

It is most obvious by looking at the passer rating numbers but can also be seen with the touchdown and interception numbers; Jantz often got better as the game progressed. Or, at the very least, he tended to be something close to completely awful at the start of the game and gradually got less awful, depending upon your perspective.

In the offseason, not only was the predominant thought with Jantz that he had to eliminate the mistakes and turnovers but most importantly, he had to eliminate the early turnovers. Those are the types of turnovers that cause the game to end before it's barely started.

So what's different in 2012? For one, he has actually brought the number of mistakes down. This sounds strange considering he threw three picks in his last outing, but as dangerous as rationalizing turnovers is, you can almost do it for about half of his interceptions on the season. Whether the balls are tipped by his own receivers or the flukey catch and drop from Brun and the meaningless Hail Mary on Saturday against Tech, many of Jantz's mistakes have been slightly different.

That and he has avoided them early. But that isn't the only thing that has seemed to change with his play and when he plays the best from 2011 compared to 2012. Take a look:

  • 1st Quarter: 23/31, 235 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT - Passer Rating of 163.35
  • 2nd Quarter: 33/50, 356 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT - Passer Rating of 131.01
  • 3rd Quarter: 15/24, 111 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT - Passer Rating of 120.52
  • 4th Quarter: 14/22, 102 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT - Passer Rating of 73.31

First, note that the 2012 numbers are likely still inflated a bit from the non-conference schedule and just one conference game having been played, but the flip in performance from the start of the game through the end of the game as compared with 2011 is mind blowing to me.

It is nearly a reverse mirror image of the 2011 season. Starts strong, avoids mistakes and things gradually go downhill from there. It may be too early to draw these conclusions but there appears to be some important observations we can make.

From the 2011 season we know that Jantz is capable of finishing strong, and sometimes, in a very big way. This year Jantz has proven that he can start strong and avoid those big early mistakes, but the problem remains that he has also proven the opposite is true. Either way, one of the most frequent complaints of Jantz is the rarity of the complete game. Whether in 2011 or 2012, Jantz rarely has put a game of four solid quarters together.

After Saturday there is valid reason for concern with Jantz's performance and the offensive offense for ISU, especially in the first half. Yet how much of that should rest squarely on the shoulders of Jantz, or any quarterback? There are a lot of moving parts to any football game, team, or offense.

For those ready to make a change, remember the fact that changing our QB is not a guarantee for success. The fact that it worked last year doesn’t mean that it will work this year.

How will Jantz perform at TCU and/or throughout the rest of the season? Cyclone fans certainly hope that he can combine the hot starts of 2012 with the clutch finishes of 2011, but with Steele, it's never easy to predict.