Upset Over OSU Is Still Fueling Iowa State

DALLAS, Texas - The first question on my list for Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads, and almost everyone else attending Big 12 Media Days on Monday, was how last year's win over second-ranked Oklahoma State was a program enhancer. That was not lost on the rest of the Big 12, and judging from Monday, it obviously hasn't been forgotten.

"I think the most significant component of that victory for our football program has been national attention," said Rhoads, who had to be asked about the win over the Cowboys in nearly every interview he did on Monday.

"And you play that game on a Friday night at a point late in the season that affected the BCS race, and you got the whole nation talking about it all weekend long, now that spills over, most importantly for us, into recruiting. And you go into living rooms and you go into schools and on the practice field this spring and the Iowa State brand is recognized on a national level probably more so than it's ever been."

The silver lining for Oklahoma State is for an upset of that magnitude to occur the losing team has to be that good and recognized. It was not an ESPY winner but the game was on the ESPNU top 25 of games played in 2011, coming in ranked 11th.

Oklahoma State gets its next crack at the Cyclones on Oct. 20 when the Cowboys host Iowa State for homecoming.

Before then Iowa State has to decide on a quarterback. Unlike the Cowboys, the Cyclones have let their quarterback competition play out over the summer with Steele Jantz, who led the Cyclones to wins over Iowa and UConn, and Jared Barnett, who quarterbacked the upset over the Cowboys, battle it out over the summer and into fall camp.

"The decision will probably be made the same as last year, and it will be all the way through the last scrimmage of training camp before I'll make that decision," said Rhoads. "And we most definitely need better play from the quarterback position if we're going to become a better football team, and namely in the area of accuracy. Our quarterbacks completed, I think, 51 percent of their passes is all last year. We threw too many to the wrong-colored jersey.

"If we're going to be a better offensive football team, which is very important in this league, it's going to take better quarterback play."

Rhoads emphasized that the play of the offense around the quarterbacks is just as important as the play of the signal callers. Rhoads said wide receivers will be the most important as they are somewhat young and inexperienced.

As for the players the Cyclones will be counting on? "That's easy," answered Rhoads. "I think the two that are probably gaining the most notoriety as we head into the fall, who are with us here today, A.J. Klein and Jake Knott, a pair of our linebackers, guys like Leonard who played as true freshmen and are starters in a Wally Burnham-coached defense. But they're prototype. They're 6'2", 6'3", 245 pounds. They can run and they're intelligent and they are tough, and the expectations are high for good reason."

The noticeable difference in the pair of linebackers is the length of their hair (Klein has a pony tail), but they are very similar in talk and action. Both emphasized that they'd like to have a hand this season in more than one or two games that everybody else across the Big 12 thinks of as an upset.

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