It was a great afternoon in Ames. The weather was perfect for early April and a good crowd showed to watch the spring game.
The offense took the win 50-44 with an interesting scoring method. There are few things that stood out to me. Joel Lanning at linebacker may just work and there’s also a darkhorse contender at the same position.
Reminder: here's the scoring system for today. pic.twitter.com/BLUy6tlQsr— Aaron Marner (@A_Mar32) April 8, 2017
The Joel Lanning linebacker experiment may just work
With the rotations during the game we only caught a small sample size of Joel Lanning at linebacker, but he sure looked the part. He also made the play of the day on defense with an interception returned for a touchdown. Lanning recorded four tackles to go along with his interception.
Check it out below.
Here is that pick-six from LB Joel Lanning! pic.twitter.com/mxBG2krrQ5— Cyclone Football (@CycloneFB) April 8, 2017
It’s safe to say Lanning will enter fall camp as the number one MIKE linebacker. However, he still has plenty of work to do. We saw many instances today of him over-pursuing some run plays and eventually working back into the play. His pass coverage skills for the most part were average if you exclude the one interception. Lanning is one of the hardest working players on the team and I think he will be just fine.
Marcel Spears Jr may be a darkhorse at linebacker
Marcel Spears Jr. is not a name we have been hearing this spring, but he was one of the leading tacklers on the day with six and he also recorded two sacks. If he can contribute like that at a position of need for the Iowa State defense, there’s a definite shot for him to gain some serious playing time.
Spears Jr. is a redshirt sophomore and played most of the day with the second team. He appeared in 11 games last year on special teams. His ability to rush the passer on blitzes has put him on my radar for the beginning of next season.
Offensive Line is going to be just fine
The first team offensive line held its own during the spring game and played well, giving Jacob Park plenty of time to make throws. The unit also had plenty of push up front to spring some decent runs. Once you add a fully healthy Jake Campos and graduate transfer Dave Dawson into the mix, Tom Manning is going to have one heck of a group to groom for this season.