Iowa State begins spring practice today and there are certainly a lot of questions even with a team full of talent coming back. Though we won’t get to see them up close and personal until the upcoming fall, there is sure to be a lot of buzz and information that will escape to us. Here are a few things that I’m keeping an eye out for as the spring practice slate moves forward.
Iowa State looks to have their cemented starter for an entire season for once. His development to further his game will certainly be something of a focus for him this spring. Finally, having an entire offseason to work with the coaching staff will bode will for Purdy going into next season. I do think building on his arm strength and pocket awareness to avoid hits after his throws will be huge for him as we move closer to next season.
While Iowa State does return all of their starters from a season ago, this group has a ton of improvement to make before August 31st, especially with David Montgomery no longer creating on his own in the running game. Joey Ramos and Trevor Downing are coming off their redshirt seasons, and both were close to significant playing time last season. The question is who they take over for. Colin Olsen is certainly a solid player, but he can easily be upgraded and Downing could fit in there if needed. Joey Ramos could play either tackle spot if needed as well. Matt Campbell was pleased with the improvement of the offensive line over the course of last season, but if they can find a road-grader upfront to create holes in the running game, the offensive line could take the next step.
David Montgomery’s Replacement
Who will make the biggest impact at the running back position? Certainly, Iowa State’s running back room is filled with talent, but replacing David Montgomery is going to be no easy task. Johnnie Lang, Sheldon Croney, Kene Nwangwu, as well as the additions of Breece Hall and Jirhel Brock, make up a large and very talented group to choose from. If this comes down to a running back by committee next season, it may not be such a bad thing. This position will be particularly fun to watch and see who comes out with the step forward.
Next Man Up At Wide Receiver
Hakeem Butler and Matthew Eaton are going to be tough to replace. Iowa State has a ton of receivers that are talented, but have yet to be proven performers on the field. Joseph Scates is a name that could be a quick fix to get the wide receivers to the next level. After spending last season off and on suspension, the former four-star recruit certainly has a ton of skills that could make him a big-time Big 12 receiver. Iowa State also brings back Tarique Milton, Deshaunte Jones, and Landen Akers who combined for 87 receptions and 5 touchdowns. Incoming freshman Darien Porter and Ezeriah Anderson will add to the mix in the fall.
Defensive Question Marks
Iowa State’s most solid group most returns, but there are still some areas of question. Brian Peavy and Willie Harvey are now gone and who step ups to replace their production is going to be huge. We saw plenty of young corners get playing time last season, and they proved they’re at least worthy of competing in the Big 12, but Brian Peavy was as solid of a corner as Iowa State has seen in a long time, maybe ever. I think his presence will be missed more than Willie Harvey’s due to the fact Matt Campbell has done a tremendous job of recruiting linebackers and people who can play well up front. Another secondary issue will be the replacement for D’Andre Payne. His versatility will be missed, and we just aren’t quite sure who can fall into his role full time just yet.
Stay tuned to WRNL as spring football continues.