Iowa State comes off a week against BYE, and welcomes in AARP sponsored Kansas State and Bill Snyder. Here are some of the tidbits from Matt Campbell’s press conference today.
Good Time for BYE Week
“I think needed is an understatement,” Campbell said after last week’s much-needed bye.
The Cyclones hit the off week at a perfect time in the season, with five games remaining, and a roster that needed some rest.
“We are not very deep. Our guys are playing a lot of snaps for us. To me, it was much needed. It was really important for us in three ways – get healthy, to develop, and to continue to make that growth we have made.”
Iowa State can make some noise heading into the remaining games on their schedule, with winnable games against all remaining opponents.
Except Oklahoma that is. Bobby Stoops never lets the foot off the gas in that one.
Iowa State was challenged with some nagging injuries a few weeks ago, and it appears that last week was the perfect ailment for this unit to re-group.
“We are a lot better than we were a week ago (in regards to health),” said Campbell. “Some of those guys were withheld from practice (Trever Ryen and Kamari Cotton-Moya to name a couple). Kamari needed it for sure. Jomal Wiltz needed it. Some of those guys are dinged up and have played a lot of snaps for us this season.”
It sounds like Trever Ryen will be re-examined on Tuesday and we will know later this week if he can play.
Shake-up in the Depth Chart
Some changes of note right away on the depth chart. Jhaustin Thomas, who has been playing on the interior defensive line the last few games, has officially been moved into the starting role opposite Demond Tucker.
“You’ve seen our defense play better since Jhaustin has moved in there,” said Campbell. “We have challenged him, and he has really bought in.”
Another newly inked starter on the depth chart is true freshman JaQuan Bailey at the defensive end LEO position. Bailey has turned the corner, and at 260 pounds, the 19-year old is playing some of his best football.
“I think JaQuan – if we are talking seven weeks (into his first season), is doing some really impressive things,” said Campbell. “JaQuan’s got that ability that we don’t have an abundance of – stop the run and the ability to the rush the passer. The more we’ve given to him, the more he has handled, and been able to make things happen with it.”
Other changes were Evrett Edwards at the backup nickel spot (STAR), and Sam Harms supplanting Justin Chandler at the starting tight end spot.
Moving on to Kansas State
Coach Campbell was asked what he thought about the guy who could play Johnny Knoxville’s role in Bad Grandpa, AKA Kansas State coach Bill Snyder.
“I’ve been really impressed, to be honest. It’s hard to sustain success, and he (Snyder) has that unique ability to do it,” said Campbell.
“I think it’s a great matchup for our football team.”
Great matchup indeed, as deficits have been 8 points or less in seven of the last eight matchups. Although Kansas State has won all of those games, it appears that close games are the norm when it comes to “Farmageddon.”
Scouting Kansas State
K-State’s defense is one of the best in the Big 12, if not the nation. They allow only 343 yards per game, and are adept at stopping the run.
“They have a real veteran group, their front seven in really impressive,” said Campbell. “The interior defensive line is stout and both players are back from a year ago. What’s impressive with their linebackers’ are that they can run. They do a really good job of keeping the ball in front of them, and you have to earn everything you get.”
The trademark to Bill Snyder’s defense – fundamentally sound with defenders in the right place at the right time. This year’s unit may be one of the best he has ever had, as they have held all seven of their opponents below their season average in scoring.
Kansas State also carries with it an Iowa-grown product in quarterback Jesse Ertz, who can beat you with both his arm and his legs. That dual-threat approach will be a tough matchup for the Cyclone defense.
Team’s Mindset for the Final Five Games
The question was asked if Coach Campbell would like a re-set for the final five games of the season.
“I told our kids – imagine where we have come from,” Campbell exclaimed.
“We are such a different team, and seven weeks into the season, you love to go back, and re-start the whole thing. I think it’s all a part of learning and growing, and what it takes to be successful from winter to spring to fall (practice).”
“I think we are all excited to be back on the football field. It’s hard for me to sit and watch college football on a Saturday, and not be in that arena, and I hope our kids feel the same way.”
Its Homecoming Week in Ames, as Iowa State plays host to Kansas State at 11:00 A.M. on Saturday.