Paul Rhoads

Sam B. Richardson, Iowa State’s redshirt junior quarterback, likes to play to his opponents’ weaknesses. If defenders are moving slowly, as he felt Toledo was last weekend, he’ll change the game plan accordingly.

“The first half, we were kind of waiting for them to set up on defense, so I told the coaches we need to go fast and not let them get set up,” Richardson said Saturday night, after the Cyclones rebounded from a 13-9 halftime deficit to beat Toledo, 37-30.

The transition to up-tempo wasn’t a guaranteed improvement. Richardson’s teammates didn’t like the new speed, it required him to throw a lot more passes and, at times, Richardson admits, it’s not easy on the quarterback. But he didn’t mind throwing 53 passes, and both his 37 completions and 351 passing yards set Cyclone school records. Despite the obvious success on the stat sheet, Richardson said his mental game couldn’t always keep up.

“Where you’re not thinking so much about what a defensive look is before the snap, [it can] hurt us,” Richardson said Wednesday. “I wasn’t paying attention as well as I should’ve. It’s a lot of reacting there when you get a look [from teammates] that they’re in an offense they don’t want to be in.”

Although Richardson speaks of his mistakes, his statistics and mentors tell another story. Richardson hit 3,000 career passing yards in last weekend’s game, 1,354 of which he’s completed this season. Boasting a 60.1 percent completion rate with 10 touchdowns in 2014, Richardson, a  Winter Park, Florida, native, is far from passive. He averages more than 225 passing yards per game and leads the team with 376 rushing yards this season — more than double the total of any other Cyclone player. Head coach Paul Rhoads says Richardson is growing at an incredible rate.

“When you start to mature like he is right now, you do things like that; you make smart plays,” Rhoads said after the victory over Toledo. “And he made a couple of knucklehead plays in the first half, so to come back and have the presence to play the way he did in the next 30 minutes is a credit to him.”

In Austin this weekend, Richardson will look to make smart plays against the Longhorns. He knows the up-tempo style won’t wear out Texas’ defenders as well as it did the Rockets’. Richardson says Toledo players were “tired and huffing for air,” so he looked to capitalize on their fatigue. But therein lies his biggest concern about the Longhorns’ defense: their athleticism.

“Their D-line is big but full of quick, shifty guys, and their defensive backs are very athletic, quick and can make plays on the balls,” Richardson said. “It’s a defense that’s going to be flying around and know where they need to be.”

Although his competition will be stiff — Richardson says the Longhorns are “definitely one of the better 2-4 teams in the nation” — the higher stakes only motivate him. He longs for a win in Austin, hoping last week’s comeback will springboard the Cyclones to a second consecutive victory.

“It’s a great team with a lot of prestige behind it, so it’d obviously propel us as a team getting a win over [the Longhorns],” Richardson said. “They’ve got a great defense and a team that’s full of athletes that can make all sorts of plays. It’d be an awesome win down there in Austin and propel us throughout the rest of the season.”

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

After Cyclones head coach Paul Rhoads voiced his disapproval of what he believed to be a blown call late in the fourth quarter against Texas, he has stated that the game has no effect on the team’s preparation for Texas Tech and that’s what he is focused on.

“To make a play on the 1-yard line with their backs against the wall -- clear to everybody -- and have it taken away from them… you don’t just put an arm around a guy and tell him it’s okay when that happens to him. I’m so proud of the effort my kids gave to win this football game,” Rhoads said after his team’s 31-30 loss to the Longhorns.

Rhoads, who was publicly reprimanded by the Big 12 for his comments, had put the issue behind him when he was asked about it this week.

“I’m sure the Big 12 office has followed a long history of protocol in cases just like this with both players and coaches,” Rhoads told reporters Monday. “I fully accept that.”

Senior defensive back Deon Broomfield was involved in a controversial cut block by Texas senior receiver Mike Davis, who was also publicly reprimanded by the Big 12 and voiced he did not hear the whistle while Broomfield said “it was a done play.”

 

Kansas football recruit dies after stroke

Andre Maloney, 17, died Friday morning after suffering a stroke during a high school football game. Maloney, from Shawnee Mission West High School, had committed to Kansas over the summer. He was heading to the sideline after catching a 63-yard touchdown pass when he collapsed.

“As a dad and a loving parent, it’s just a nightmare and a true tragedy,” Kansas head coach Charlie Weis said. “When a player is either on my team or committed to my team, I believe that my responsibility is to be like a dad to them. I don’t try to be their dad, but I try to be like a dad. When it happens to anyone, anything pains me. But not like this.”

Kansas players were seen acknowledging Maloney with Gatorade towels with the hashtag #play4dre, and a player was mentioned to have written ‘R.I.P.’ on his uniform.

 

Texas Tech quarterback not out for season

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday that starting freshman quarterback Baker Mayfield has no structural damage in his right knee after Mayfield was injured against Kansas last week. Kingsbury is uncertain whether Mayfield will play at all against Iowa State this week.

Kingsbury, from Lake Travis High School in Austin, has passed for 1,488 yards and eight touchdowns while completing 65.7 percent of his passes this year. Fellow Lake Travis alum, sophomore Michael Brewer, was the odds-on favorite to be the Red Raiders’ starting quarterback before the season began. Brewer and Davis Webb are Klingsbury’s options behind center this weekend.

 

Seastrunk is making others star-struck

Baylor junior running back Lache Seastrunk leads the country in yards per carry at 11.3, after rushing for 172 yards and two touchdowns in the Bears’ 73-42 win over West Virginia. Seastrunk has rushed for 100 yards in each of Baylor’s four games this season and is backing up his statement last December when he said he was going to win the Heisman in 2013.

The Bears are averaging more than 70 points per game this year and Seastrunk is running for 147.2 yards per game, the second-most in the country. Only Boston College’s Andre Williams (153.6) has more, but he’s needed twice as many carries per game (26.6 per game to Seastrunk’s 13.3) to do so. 

Iowa State running back Aaron Wimberly fights for yards in a loss to Iowa. After running for 137 yards in a win over Tulsa last Thursday, the Cyclones' first victory of the year, Wimberly was named the team's starting running back. 

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Aaron Wimberly only got less than one-third of the carries at Iowa Western Community College last year. So far, the junior has only gotten 26 percent of the carries this year.

But that’s about to change.

“He’s our guy,” head coach Paul Rhoads said. “Aaron is the starter going into Game 4 and will get the bulk of
the carries.”

Until this point, it has been running back-by-committee. He’s split carries with three seniors – James White, Jeff Woody and Shontrelle Johnson.

“There are a number of reasons that played into a lack of running back snaps [for Wimberly],” Rhoads said. “Some had to do with the game plan, knowledge and experience.”

Three games in, though, Wimberly has taken advantage of his opportunities and rocketed to the top of depth chart.

“He’s got a step of quickness on the others right now,” Rhoads said.

After getting just two carries in the Week 2 loss to Iowa, Wimberly, a 5-foot-9-inch, 173-pound tailback, burst onto the scene last week. He made the most of his first career start, rushing for 137 yards on 19 attempts in Iowa State’s first victory, helping Wimberly earn Big 12 co-offensive Player of the Week honors.

“I was waiting for my opportunity,” Wimberly said. “I got an opportunity that game and took advantage of it.”

And even the man gunning for his job was impressed.

“The way he gets up the field, you can’t replicate that,” Jeff Woody, the backup running back, said. “That type of one-cut burst is tough to stop. He can move.”

That one-cut style is what drew Rhoads to Wimberly, a heavily sought after recruit who led Iowa Western to an NJCAA National Championship in 2012 by rushing for 1,125 yards and 13 touchdowns – the same team that featured Texas’ last opponent, Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters.

“He is one of those guys you don’t need to spend a lot of time with in the evaluation,” Rhoads said. “You saw the speed, the ability to hit a small hole and very little wasted movement and motion. He is very much a simple one-cut guy.”

With Wimberly, who has yet to be tackled for a loss after 29 carries, running the ball, the Iowa State offense opens up – something it has had trouble doing in recent years.

“Sam [Richardson] is a great QB, but it’s hard to throw when they put six guys in the box and drop everybody else,” Woody said. “Having that successful running game pulls people back in the box more which helps Sam open the play book more.”

Rhoads agrees.

“There are number of things you can’t do without successful run plays,” Rhodes said. “There were a number of successful three- or four-yard runs in [the Tulsa game] that created play action and a 36-yard run later. You cannot be one dimensional and be successful unless to you got a world of talent on the O-line, a first-round draft pick slinging it around and a corps of star receivers. We don’t have that.”

Moving from the JUCO ranks to FBS and from third-string to starter would cause many athletes get caught up in the hype. But Wimberly still responds to reporters with “sir” and deflects attention away from him.

“I have to thank the O-line and wide receivers because they blocked really well for me,” Wimberly said after the Tulsa game when asked about his breakout performance.

And when the lights turn on Thursday night, Texas knows they have to watch out for him.

“Wimberly has tremendous speed,” Longhorns head coach Mack Brown said. “He was a big guy in the Tulsa game.  He changes who they are offensively.”

He’s ready for a bigger workload. He’s ready to prove himself. And he’s ready for the ESPN spotlight.

“It’s a big stage for me,” Wimberly said. “(The) national championship was big, but this is real big because it’s (in prime time). Everyone’s watching.”

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

Texas will travel to Ames, Iowa, this week to face a renewed Iowa State football team coming off its first win of the season, a 38-21 victory against Tulsa last Thursday. The Cyclones improved to 1-2 after losing two in-state battles to Northern Iowa and Iowa by a combined total of 14 points. Paul Rhoads’ team is set to open conference play with a home game against Texas on Thursday night — a rarity for the Longhorns apart from Thanksgiving Day.

Since 2010, Rhoads and his team have lost two of three games against the Longhorns with their only win coming on the road in Austin. In the victory over Tulsa, Cyclone sophomore quarterback, Sam Richardson, completed 26 of 41 passes for 255 yards and two scores while Aaron Wimberly had a breakthrough performance with 137 yards rushing on 19 carries. With both teams’ quarterbacks recovering from recent injuries — Ash exacerbated an earlier concussion and Richardson is nursing a sprained right ankle — both sophomore running back Johnathan Gray and Wimberly could see more carries Thursday in an attempt to relieve pressure on the passing game and open up the field. Here is how the teams stack up on both sides of the ball:

OFFENSIVE ADVANTAGE: 

Longhorns

Texas ranks fifth in ESPN’s Big 12 power rankings while Iowa State stands ninth, just ahead of Kansas who has only accounted for a mere seven touchdowns through three games. Quarterback David Ash, listed as day-to-day with a head injury, is third in the Big 12 in total offense, Richardson seventh. Gray ranks third in rushing offense. The good news for Rhoads’ squad is that the Cyclones lead the conference in red zone offense, converting seven touchdowns on a perfect 9-9 passing.    

DEFENSIVE ADVANTAGE:  

Cyclones

Coming into this week’s matchup, the Cyclones maintain an edge over Texas in scoring and rushing defense as well as total defense, three categories in which the Longhorns ranked last in the Big 12 through Saturday. Iowa State is limiting opponents to 77.8 percent scoring from 20 yards out while the Longhorns have allowed 14 touchdowns in four contests, with opponents averaging 28 points per game. The good news for the Longhorns is that a flawless defensive display may not be necessary given the relative weakness of the Cyclone receivers.

Thursday’s game will set the tone for both teams moving forward in the Big 12 competition. Texas’ conference title aspirations could hinge on whether it arrives in Ames ready to play, lest it prefers a repeat of the Brigham Young University game in which the Cougars scorched the Longhorn defense for record yardage.

Iowa State linebacker Jake Knott walks off the field after winning a game against Baylor, Oct. 27 in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 35-21.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

He was the center of the Cyclones’ defense, easily their best player on that side of the ball. Now Jake Knott must sit on the sideline and watch as Iowa State tries to get to six wins and become bowl eligible.

Last week, Knott had shoulder surgery to repair a variety of different left shoulder injuries that he had sustained and had been playing through all season. Last season Knott sustained a torn labrum and several dislocated shoulders. Knott was injured again against Oklahoma State this season in what proved to be the culminating injury.

“He’s played through a lot of pain, which is a tribute to him,” Iowa Stead head coach Paul Rhoads said. “His toughness and his overall selfless desire to be a team player. It was never ever about Jake Knott, it was always about the Iowa State Cyclones.”

Knott was Rhoads’ first recruit in Ames and he turned out to be a valuable one. The outside linebacker from Waukee, Iowa, was a two-star recruit coming out of high school and ranked ninth in the state of Iowa according to Rivals.com.

Knott and fellow senior A.J. Klein are considered to be one of the best, if not the best, linebacker duo in the Big 12 conference. Knott is also the top tackler on the Cyclone defense with 79 total tackles and 55 solo tackles in just eight games. Knott also picked up two interceptions and a sack this season.

After an 11-tackle and one forced fumble performance against Baylor, Knott was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week.

Last season, Knott dislocated his shoulder multiple times against Baylor. At one point he popped it back into place so that he could go back onto the field and continue playing. With the dislocated shoulder, he made 18 tackles against the Bears. Against Missouri, Knott also played through a broken finger.

Knott is no stranger to injury and has been willing to play through pain in order to help the Cyclones, but he decided to undergo the surgery in order to be 100-percent healthy for the NFL combine should he be invited.

In 2011, he finished as an Associated Press First-Team All-Big 12 honoree and a Sports Illustrated honorable mention All-American. Knott ranked third in the conference and 48th in the country with 115 tackles a year ago.

Knott finished his Iowa State career with 347 career tackles, eight interceptions, and 10 fumbles. His tackle count is good for the most in Iowa State school history, and fifth in Big 12 history.

After many seasons in the Big 12 cellar, the Cyclones were hoping to rise, but without his help on defense, Iowa State may struggle for that elusive sixth win.

Printed on Friday, November 9, 2012 as: Surgery sidelines Knott for season

Quarterback Steele Jantz looks to pass on Sept. 10 at Jack Trice Stadium against Northern Iowa. Jantz finished the game with 279 yards passing with four touchdowns and 42 yards rushing.

Photo Credit: Gene Pavelko | Iowa State Daily

Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz has led the Cyclones to the team’s first 3-0 start since 2005. His stats would make you
think otherwise.

Jantz has completed 57.5 percent of his passes, with six touchdowns and six interceptions.

“They’re good things, obviously, winning three games,” Jantz said. “But beyond that, I’ve got to minimize a lot of mistakes and, speaking for the offense, we’ve got a long way to go.”

The junior competed for the starting job at Iowa State with Jerome Tiller and Jared Barnett throughout the summer and was given the job two weeks before the season. Jantz can play with his feet and is known for keeping plays, and his team, alive in games.

“You can talk leadership, moxie, you can talk all those thing, but his production when those games have been on the line?” said Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads. “He’s delivered throwing the ball and he’s delivered running the ball.”
Rhoads believes that Jantz has turned the ball over too many times and that consistency is something he needs to work on.

But, he said Jantz is only getting better.

“He’s made a higher number than we would like of poor decisions,” Rhoads said. “He’s made great decisions and he’s made some spectacular plays. I would say at this point he’s inconsistent. Certainly not unusual for a first-time starter at this level, coming off a successful junior college career.”

Jantz is a transfer from San Francisco Community College. According to Mack Brown, he has been compared to a young Aaron Rodgers, who transferred to Berkeley from Butte Community College.

Texas linebacker Jordan Hicks said in order to win the game, the Longhorns must stop Jantz.

“He’s good at extending the play,” Hicks said. “We have to get after him a little bit and be able to contain him and stop him.”
Jantz’s own teammates are impressed with his ability to move.

“I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something about him, he just makes plays and finds a way,” said Iowa State running back Shontrelle Johnson after the Cyclone’s 44-41 triple-overtime win over Iowa.

Iowa State linebacker Jake Knott said Jantz is deceptively fast and he is smooth in his playmaking.

In all three games this season, Jantz has led fourth-quarter comebacks. He had a quarterback sneak in the final seconds against Northern Iowa and two fourth-down conversions in the Cyclone’s overtime win over Iowa. Iowa State has always had trouble beating rival, Iowa.

Although Jantz has struggled with consistency, he has thrown for 666 yards this season and run for 112 yards. Mack Brown has been impressed with Jantz’s ability to lead the Cyclones to victory despite adversity.

“Not only did he bring them back [against Iowa], but the play he made on the goal line where he runs up inside and bounces back out and sprints to the right and hits the guy to win the game in overtime was just an amazing play,” Brown said.

Jantz was named Big 12 offensive player of the week after the team’s comeback win over Iowa. In the game, Jantz threw for 279 yards and four touchdowns. He led the team to three-straight touchdown drives. This was only his second game at Iowa State.

But in the Cyclone’s win over 24-20 win over Connecticut, Jantz had three interceptions on his first four pass attempts. In that game, he suffered a sprained foot.

Although he limped off the field and it appeared that he was finished for the game, he led the team to a comeback victory over the Huskies with his fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Darius Reynolds.

“I haven’t missed anything,” Jantz said. “In practice I haven’t been running as much but not really missing anything.”

He said by Saturday, he will be 100 percent, and for the Longhorns, that could be a bad thing.

Published on September 30, 2011 as: Dual-threat Jantz leading Cyclone charge

Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz, No. 2, leaps over a Northern Iowa defender in their first game of the season. Jantz has traveled a long road to become a Division I starter.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

One year ago, Steele Jantz was trotting on to the field of RAM Stadium about to lead the City College of San Francisco football team at quarterback against another Northern California Conference opponent.

Flash forward and the 22 year old, who only started one game at quarterback while in high school, has led the Iowa State Cyclones to a 2-0 start, including an upset 44-41 victory over in-state rival Iowa in the third overtime last Saturday.

“You are going from one level of football to the next, and as the competition increases and the level of play increases, there is that unknown factor,” said Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads. “[Jantz] has the personality that he has shown us thus far that he’ll be unflappable when it comes to 55,000 screaming fans and playing under the lights.”

Prior to this season, Jantz’s only FBS football experience was playing the role of then Florida quarterback Tim Tebow on the University of Hawaii’s scout team as a true freshman. After redshirting at Hawaii, Jantz joined the junior college ranks and transferred to City College of San Francisco in search of more playing time.

During his 2010 season at the helm of the City College of San Francisco offense, Jantz threw for 3,075 yards and 23 touchdowns and rushed for 601 yards and 14 TDs to lead the Rams to an 11-1 record and a spot in the California State community college title game.

Jantz’s play caught the eye of Rhoads and Iowa State offensive coordinator Tom Herman who offered him a spot on the Cyclone’s roster and a chance to compete for the job of starting QB.

After a battle in training camp with Jerome Tiller — who was eventually ruled academically ineligible and forced to sit out the 2011 season ­— Jantz won the starting position and was handed the ball for the Cyclones’ season opener against Northern Iowa.

“Steele emerged from a group of quarterbacks by displaying the three qualities we were looking for most consistently. That’s decision-making. That’s throwing accuracy and that’s getting things done with his feet,” Rhoads said.

In his first start as a FBS quarterback, Steele went 18-40 in the air for 187 yards and three interceptions and rushed for 80 yards and two TDs. Despite struggling throughout most of the game, Steele led the Cyclones to two scoring drives in the final five minutes and gave Iowa State a 20-19 win over Northern Iowa.

“I tried not to pay attention to the nerves, but there were some nerves,” Jantz said about his first game at the head of the Cyclones’ offense. “Luckily as the game went on, I was able to settle down a little bit.”

Despite a rocky, although victorious, start to his FBS career, Jantz brought his name to the front of the minds of the Cyclone faithful with a performance against Iowa that earned him Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors and caused Iowa State fans to rush the field.

“When I do things bad, when I make mistakes, I try to make sure that’s the last time that’s going to happen,” Jantz said following Saturday’s victory. “I’m the type of guy that really learns from mistakes so hopefully every game I’ll be getting better.”

Throwing for 279 yards, four TDs and no interceptions in addition to rushing for 42 yards, with a QB rating of 166.58, Jantz led Iowa State to the tying touchdown with 1:17 left in regulation and then to touchdowns in each of the three overtime periods.

“He’s just a natural quarterback,” said Cyclone junior wide receiver Josh Lenz. “He has a knack of making plays when he needs to and that’s what he’s doing.”

As he continues his transition from junior college to the FBS, Jantz will need to have more performances like his one against Iowa if the Cyclones are to return to a bowl game for the first time since 2009.

“Steele Jantz makes plays. He made plays as a junior college player that we recruited and he’s making plays as an Iowa State Cyclone now,” Rhoads said. “Some guys rise up when the spotlight’s the brightest and he certainly has in two football games.”