Nine Iowa State players you need to know going into Saturday's game.
It's Wednesday of game week, and so far not only am I behind on the Grade Report from UT, we have yet to get started previewing Iowa State! The latter stops now. Here are the nine most important Cyclones as I see them at this point. As always, we're weighted a little heavily toward the offense, and I've grouped them together. When I began this post, I intended for it to be the basic 5 Players to Know like I've done before ... there were just too many question marks to narrow it to five. If you want to look at the entire depth chart for the Cyclones, be my guest!
1. Three Different QBs
I'm pulling a little bit of a fast one here by giving you all three possible QBs that Baylor might face on Saturday because if Paul Rhoads knows who is going to start, he's not telling. It's probably limited to either Jared Barnett or Steele Jantz, but Rhoads is apparently unhappy with both and willing to give freshman Sam Richardson an opportunity in practice. For my guess, I'll go with Barnett, so we start there.
A. Jared Barnett -- QB -- #7
|2011||Iowa State||Big 12||FR||QB||110||220||50.0||1201||5.5||4.8||6||6||99.4|
|2012||Iowa State||Big 12||SO||QB||51||105||48.6||586||5.6||5.0||6||4||106.7|
Barnett (6-1, 198) is in the midst of his sophomore year at ISU after coming in last season in relief of Jantz, the same guy who relieved him against Oklahoma State last week. Barnett would seem to have sewn up the job with the win over TCU and the close loss to TCU, but last week's dreadful performance (19-39 for 206 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT) cost him dearly. Barnett is at least a decent runner, averaging 5.0 yards per carry on 26 rushing attempts this season, so that's something to watch, and though he has, to be charitable, issues with accuracy, he's athletic and probably gives ISU their best chance to mount an above-average offense.
B. Steele Jantz -- QB -- #2
|2011||Iowa State||Big 12||JR||QB||138||259||53.3||1519||5.9||4.7||10||11||106.8|
|2012||Iowa State||Big 12||SR||QB||89||136||65.4||838||6.2||4.9||7||7||123.9|
Jantz began this season as the starter in Iowa State only to be usurped by Barnett after the loss to Texas Tech. He's got another chance now after being brought in for the fourth quarter of last week's blowout loss to Oklahoma State. Jantz is more of a known quantity at this point for both Iowa State and its opponents; he's the quintessential pocket passer with a big arm and almost no legs, and he often confuses friend and foe. His turnovers cost him the job in both 2011 and 2012, but his ability to run the ISU offense could earn him another shot this week.
C. Sam Richardson -- QB -- #12
He's a redshirt freshman without any stats, that's why I didn't post any for him. If he were to play against Baylor it would be his first action at QB for Iowa State or anybody else except for two running plays for 25 yards. He's got decent size at 6-2, 207 and was a mid-3* recruit coming out of high school two years ago. I don't know much about him other than that, and I don't think he'll actually play against Baylor this weekend. Keeping him in the competition is probably a ploy to keep our defensive staff guessing.
2. A Pair of Running Backs
Same situation this time, except with running backs. These guys basically trade off.
A. Shontrelle Johnson -- RB -- #21
|2010||Iowa State||Big 12||FR||RB||35||218||6.2||2||5||14||2.8||0||40||232||5.8||2|
|2011||Iowa State||Big 12||SO||RB||51||247||4.8||0||5||40||8.0||0||56||287||5.1||0|
|2012||Iowa State||Big 12||JR||RB||66||270||4.1||1||8||41||5.1||1||74||311||4.2||2|
Johnson and the next person on this list are the primary running backs for the Iowa State offense, with Johnson the slightly larger of the two at 5-9, 190 pounds. Baylor fans are unfamiliar with Mr. Johnson since he missed most of the 2011 season with injury and only played sparingly in 2010. He's Salubi-like in his skillset and results so far this season, and ISU will lean on him as part of the running game to deny us the ball and help rest their defense. Iowa State fans seemed to have a lot of expectations for Johnson this year that have gone unfulfilled, mostly due to turnovers.
B. James White -- RB -- #8
|2010||Iowa State||Big 12||FR||RB||5||12||2.4||0||1||5||5.0||0||6||17||2.8||0|
|2011||Iowa State||Big 12||SO||RB||158||754||4.8||8||21||165||7.9||1||179||919||5.1||9|
|2012||Iowa State||Big 12||JR||RB||48||264||5.5||2||14||119||8.5||0||62||383||6.2||2|
Yes, Iowa State has another smallish junior RB helping to anchor a run-heavy offense. White is the one with which more Baylor fans will be familiar since he rushed for a season-high against us a year ago in Waco (148 yards on 16 carries). I like White more than Johnson and think he'll be the bigger threat. He's especially good catching passes out of the backfield. We need to be ready for that aspect of his game when he comes in.
WRNL tells me via twitter that White is 50/50 to play this week after missing the last two games. Another report I read said he was probably going to give it a go. Keep that question in mind when we talk about their offense later this week.
3. A Couple Wide Receivers
This multi-player thing is getting tiresome, Iowa State.
A. Aaron Horne -- WR -- #3
|2011||Iowa State||Big 12||JR||WR||38||431||11.3||0||1||18||18.0||1||39||449||11.5||1|
|2012||Iowa State||Big 12||SR||WR||32||307||9.6||2||2||38||19.0||0||34||345||10.1||2|
B. Josh Lenz -- WR -- #19
|2009||Iowa State||Big 12||FR||WR||20||186||9.3||0||1||8||8.0||0||21||194||9.2||0|
|2010||Iowa State||Big 12||SO||WR||14||170||12.1||2||2||8||4.0||0||16||178||11.1||2|
|2011||Iowa State||Big 12||JR||WR||39||510||13.1||2||2||-8||-4.0||0||41||502||12.2||2|
|2012||Iowa State||Big 12||SR||WR||18||279||15.5||4||0||0||0||18||279||15.5||4|
4. Linebackers Galore!
I guess this week I'm going to just have multiple entries on each one. That's ok as long as it doesn't continue the rest of the season!
A. Jake Knott -- WLB -- #20
|2009||Iowa State||Big 12||FR||LB||18||5||23||2.0||0.0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0|
|2010||Iowa State||Big 12||SO||LB||76||54||130||6.0||1.0||4||26||6.5||0||9||0||0||0||4|
|2011||Iowa State||Big 12||JR||LB||74||41||115||4.0||0.0||2||0||0.0||0||5||0||0||0||4|
|2012||Iowa State||Big 12||SR||LB||48||20||68||6.0||0.5||2||34||17.0||0||7||0||0||0||1|
Knott is one of two linebackers ISU on this list and the leading tackler this season for the Cyclones. The senior doesn't get as much press as his cohort, but he's a big (6-3, 252), physical player who is excellent against the run and effective covering tight ends and running backs. He's one of the best linebackers in the conference this season and arguably ISU's defensive MVP so far. He leads the team in tackles for loss (6) and also has two interceptions so far on the year.
B. A.J. Klein -- MLB -- #47
|2009||Iowa State||Big 12||FR||LB||7||10||17||1.0||0.0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1|
|2010||Iowa State||Big 12||SO||LB||49||62||111||8.0||0.0||3||100||33.3||2||4||1||0||0||0|
|2011||Iowa State||Big 12||JR||LB||66||50||116||7.5||2.0||1||78||78.0||1||7||0||0||0||0|
|2012||Iowa State||Big 12||SR||LB||29||25||54||2.0||1.0||1||87||87.0||1||2||0||0||0||0|
The second in ISU's pair of stout senior linebackers, Klein mans the middle of their defense, is responsible for calling the defensive plays, and is probably the most-heralded player on that side of the ball. He's second on the team in tackles (54) behind only Knott and may be a step slower than his batterymate. His primary assignment is to stop the run.
Klein and Knott lead the team in total starts (34) coming into this game and are probably the best players on the entire squad. They are the primary reason why ISU has been so good this season.