Barnett threw for 376 yards and three touchdowns in the double-overtime victory to knock Oklahoma State out of last season’s national title race. But he followed that up with a pair of underwhelming efforts on the road, and Barnett was just 2 of 7 passing for 23 yards against Rutgers before being pulled in favor of Jantz.
Jantz’s playmaking ability was one of the reasons he earned the initial starting nod over Barnett. But his inconsistency forced Rhoads to turn yet again to Barnett.
“It’s definitely a roller coaster. I have to keep my emotions lined up. Keep them in line. Can’t get too high, can’t get too low,” Barnett said.
Even though Iowa State’s quarterback situation has threatened to become more of a platoon than a competition, there’s one major reason why Barnett has the edge in keeping the job.
Barnett takes care of the ball better than Jantz does.
Though Jantz can make the occasional spectacular play, he’s also prone to turnovers. Jantz threw seven interceptions in Iowa State’s first four games, and his four-turnover effort in a 24-13 loss to Texas Tech earned him a seat on the bench.
Barnett did throw a pick against the Horned Frogs, but both he and Rhoads can likely live with one-interception Saturdays moving forward.
“It’s just making better decisions. I mean, a lot of the turnovers that we had weren’t just Steele’s fault. But we still have to protect the football and make better decisions with the ball in our hands,” Barnett said.
Barnett has also developed strong chemistry with Lenz despite his lack of playing time.
Lenz was responsible for 147 of the 183 passing yards Barnett racked up in his return to the lineup. Barnett found Lenz for scores of 51 and 74 yards in the first quarter alone, giving the Cyclones a lead they never gave up.
On one of their touchdowns, Lenz saw what the defense was planning to do and quickly signaled to Barnett that he was going to run a slant pattern.
Barnett simply nodded back to Lenz on what turned out to be a perfect call by both of them.
“We just communicate well out there,” Lenz said. “I guess we just both see the same things.”