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Baylor vs. Iowa State Preview Part I: Nine Cyclones to Know

Nine Iowa State players you need to know going into Saturday's game.

Matthew Holst

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

Passing
Year School Conf Class Pos Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int Rate
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
Career Iowa State 161 325 49.5 1787 5.5 4.9 12 10 101.8

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

Passing
Year School Conf Class Pos Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int Rate
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
Career Iowa State 227 395 57.5 2357 6.0 4.8 17 18 112.7

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

Rushing Receiving Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
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
Career Iowa State 152 735 4.8 3 18 95 5.3 1 170 830 4.9 4

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

Rushing Receiving Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
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
Career Iowa State 211 1030 4.9 10 36 289 8.0 1 247 1319 5.3 11

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

Receiving Rushing Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
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
Career Iowa State 70 738 10.5 2 3 56 18.7 1 73 794 10.9 3

Horne is the leading receiver for the Cyclones this season, his senior year, with 307 yards on 32 receptions. Most of his catches are the short variety, obviously, and his performance is emblematic of the ISU offense. His primary asset is speed, not size, and he's only 5-9, 177 pounds. He often lines up in the slot.

B. Josh Lenz -- WR -- #19

Receiving Rushing Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
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
Career Iowa State 91 1145 12.6 8 5 8 1.6 0 96 1153 12.0 8

Lenz is Iowa State's primary downfield threat and biggest receiver at 6-0, 200 pounds but apparently had no catches against either Kansas State or Oklahoma State after his big day against TCU. According to a Cyclone chat board, he pulled a quad muscle in practice and should be back (yay!) this weekend. Because our defense needed that headache, obviously.

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

Tackles Def Int Fumbles
Year School Conf Class Pos Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds TD FF
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
Career Iowa State 216 120 336 18.0 1.5 8 60 7.5 0 22 0 0 0 9

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

Tackles Def Int Fumbles
Year School Conf Class Pos Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds TD FF
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
Career Iowa State 151 147 298 18.5 3.0 5 265 53.0 4 13 1 0 0 1
Provided by Sports-Reference.com/CFB: View Original Table
Generated 10/24/2012.

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.