The Longhorns enter a week where the biggest threat to their three-game winning streak is probably themselves. Handling success hasn't been Texas' best attribute this season, nor has being ready to play when kickoff is scheduled for 11:00 a.m.
Quarterback Steele Jantz is one of the more mobile quarterbacks Texas will face this season.
The team in Texas' was is an Iowa State team that's won just two of six conference games, and enters the weekend contest coming off a 35-20 loss to Oklahoma.
We continue our look at the Iowa State Cyclones by breaking down the offense they'll bring to Austin this weekend.
2012 Scoring: 24.4 pts/game (89th nationally, 9th Big 12)
2012 Rushing: 137.11 yds/game (90th, 10th)
2012 Passing: 223.4 yds/game (75th, 8th)
The Cyclones are an anomaly in the Big 12; a team that relies on its defense to bail out an offense that doesn't score. In a conference in which eight of the ten teams rank in the top 40 nationally in scoring, Iowa State (Kansas is the other) scores a full 20 points less per game than conference leading Kansas State, and 10 less than eighth-place TCU.
Fourth-year Iowa State assistant Courtney Messingham is in his first year as the offensive coordinator. Through nine games the Cyclones are averaging virtually the same numbers across the board from a year ago.
Senior quarterback Steele Jantz is the wildcard for this offense. In the four games Iowa State has won with Jantz as the starter his quarterback rating hasn't dipped lower than 121.0. In his two losses as a starter he hasn't been better than 85.1, and he has a combined one touchdown and four interceptions in the two games.
Iowa State joins Kansas at the bottom of the conference in total yards also, a solid 60 yards behind eighth-place TCU in the Big 12
Josh Lenz was the second leading receiver a year ago and has four touchdowns so far in 2012 for ISU.
"You keep on trying to figure out ways to gain yards," head coach Paul Rhoads said on Monday. "Whether you're throwing and catching passes or figuring out a way to run the football, yards aren't as important to us as having more points on the scoreboard than the opponent at the end of the game."
We already touched on Jantz. He's a JUCO transfer in his second year in Ames after starting seven games a year ago. He was benched for a three-game stretch against TCU, Kansas State and Oklahoma State this year, a stretch in which ISU went 1-2 with Jared Barnett under center.
The back and forth between Jantz and Barnett has been going on for two years now in Ames. Jantz was Iowa State's starter at the beginning of 2011, but was benched for the final five games of the regular season - including the upset win over Oklahoma State. Niether Jantz nor Barnett have been able to take hold of the position.
Jantz owns a 125.0 quarterback rating and has thrown 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions this season, and has 170 rushing yards on 79 attempts.
"He's an ad libber," Rhoads said. "We've always counted on him to be able to make plays with his legs. We'd like to be able to protect him and allow him to sit in the pocket and get guys open and show that arm strength and throw completed passes."
In what seems to be a growing trend around the Big 12, Iowa State leans on a number of players to get its production on the ground.
James White is back in the backfield for the Cyclones after finishing 2011 with 743 yards and eight touchdowns. This year he's averaging just 47.57 yards per game with two total scores. Junior Shontrelle Johnson leads the Cyclones with 10 carries per game and Jantz will also get into the action
ISU's three-headed attack ran 22 times for 76 yards against Oklahoma's defense last week, but without three long runs their numbers come out a measly 19 carries for 22 yards.
Aaron Horne, Jantz's teammate at the City College of San Francisco, is leading Iowa State in receiving as a senior with 320 yards. The 5-foot-9, 177-pounder has actually had more success in the games with Barnett under center, but he and fellow senior Chris Young are still the most targeted receivers with 35 and 30 receptions, respectively.
Josh Lenz is another senior to watch out wide for the Cyclones. He's tied for the team lead with four touchdowns - three coming against TCU - after finishing second on the team in receiving a year ago. He missed two games and was limited last week against Oklahoma with a quadricep injury.
Tight end Ernst Brun (6-3, 240) is the other receiver with four scores this season.
The line has a fair amount of experience returning, most notably senior right tackle Brayden Burris (6-6, 298) with 28 career starts. Sophomore center Tom Farniok (6-4, 290) has started all 22 games of his Iowa State career to date, and junior left guard Ethan Tuftee has started 19 games for the Cyclones.
The inexperience comes at left tackle with senior Carter Bykowski (6-8, 304) and junior right guard Kyle Lichtenberg (6-6, 301). The two have started every game this season, but didn't have much starting experience for ISU coming into this fall.
The group has allowed 13 sacks on the year and is paving the way for the league’s worst rushing offense. It’s not a line that should strike fear into the hearts of the Texas defensive linemen.
There's no reason the Longhorns shouldn't be able to handle the Iowa State attack. If they could hold Texas Tech's trio of running backs to 111 yards they should be able to slow down Iowa State's ground attack.
Steele Jantz has the potential to have a big day, but there's nothing in his history to suggest he'll be able put up big numbers against a conscious defense. His lone good day in conference play has come against the train wreck that is the Baylor defense.
The egg Texas laid against Kansas two weeks ago is probably the only reason to think Iowa State has a chance in this one. But if the defense continues to play like it has over the last six quarters of football, the Cyclones shouldn’t be able to score enough to keep up with the Longhorns on Saturday.
Know Your Foe: Iowa State
Thursday: Five Questions
Friday: Breaking Down the Matchup
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