Throughout the 142 days left in the offseason, we’re going to be looking at incoming recruits and how they’ll fit into Iowa State’s system and the type of impact they will have during this upcoming football season.
The first suspect is Breece Hall, perhaps the most anticipated Cyclone recruit since Allen Lazard. Hall is a four-star running back out of Wichita, Kansas, and is classified as the seventh best RB in the 2019 class according to 247sports.com. To make matters better, he graduated from high school early and is already enrolled at Iowa State.
Breece will even be wearing the number of the great Troy Davis, so it’s safe to say that the expectations and pressure will be on Hall from the first time he takes a handoff in the #28 uniform. He’ll have the pressure of filling the shoes of David Montgomery (alongside Jirehl Brock, Johnnie Lang, Sheldon Croney Jr., and others of course.) Montgomery was one of the best players in Iowa State history and did a lot for the offense in his three year career. The impact he left on and off the field will be very difficult for the staff to replace.
However, I think Breece Hall has the potential to fill that void that #32 left when he went to pursue his dream in the NFL. I’m going to breakdown some film and talk about how he fits into Matt Campbell and Tom Manning’s scheme.
After watching quite a bit of Breece’s film, I was quickly able to see what his game is. He is mostly an off-tackle runner who mostly relies on his first step before the secondary level, but his jukes and quickness are lethal once he can break through the line of scrimmage. Once he can get past the linebackers and into the last line of defense, his breakaway speed takes him away. His 40 yard dash of 4.43 puts him in an elite tier of running backs before he even plays a college snap.
Although it’s not his his bread and butter, Breece also has some power. Once he gets moving and has some forward momentum, he has the potential to shave off tackles and run a few guys over. His 6’0, 215 lb frame is about average for a running back, but it appears that his athleticism can make him an elite player.
This play right here is Breece’s bread and butter. He got a good push by his offensive live and he got outside the tackle. He made a linebacker miss with a smooth sidestep and from there he was off to the races. This was a pretty basic counter play, which Iowa State used a lot last year. The counter wasn’t the most effective for Iowa State last year, mostly because the offensive line struggled to get a good push for Montgomery. With five starters returning from last year and a couple of returning red shirts, the line could be a lot more friendly for this year’s core than they were for Montgomery.
Like I said earlier, power isn’t his game, but he is very capable of it. This is more of a traditional dive out of the pistol formation. Hall got some momentum as he burst through the line of scrimmage. Once he got to the second level, he could have tried and made them miss, but instead he just ran right over 5(?) defenders. He is never going to be a shoulder down running back, but this is pretty dang encouraging, even if it just against fellow high schoolers.
This is his more traditional way of breaking out of contact, being slippery. Once Breece is going downhill with a full head of steam, it’s going to be tough for guys to bring him down, even if they have a good angle. In this video, the two guys who attempt to bring Hall down in the secondary both take bad angles, so he makes fools of them. It will be a lot harder next year, because I am sure that Texas’ defensive backs won’t be taking a ton of bad angles.
One problem that Breece might run into his freshman isn’t really his problem; it’s the offensive line. Last season, the line struggled to get David Montgomery any sort of push on handoffs. This would result in him often having to break multiple tackles to even get back the line of scrimmage. Hopefully, the line has gotten to the point where they can seal the edge and allow their running backs to the line of scrimmage, but if they can’t, Hall’s style isn’t really built to break a ton of tackles in the back field. David Montgomery was a horse, and his style was to put his head down and plow over people. Breece Hall’s style is to rely on jukes and stopping on a dime. That will work once he gets past the 300 pounders, but until he starts getting forward momentum, he won’t be very effective.
There isn’t a whole lot to break down on this play other than to just be blown away by his speed. He ran a really good route to get open and caught the ball, which is the most important part. But once he caught the ball, he raced past everyone and scored a really long touchdown that he probably had no business scoring.
With Brock Purdy relying pretty heavily on scrambling, getting open on a broken play is really important. Hall did just that on this play and it resulted in a huge gain.
The last piece of Breece’s game that I love is his blocking. Throughout his film, he threw his body at a charging defensemen several times. The key to Iowa State’s offense is Brock Purdy, so they must protect him at all costs. Playing against teams like Texas, who throw several different blitzes the entire game, there will be a guy that is untouched going through the line sometime. Hopefully the running back that is in has the awareness to pick him up and protect Brock. It appears that Hall is more than capable of it.
Watching film it was hard not to see a lot of Aaron Wimberly in him. In case you have blocked out every single memory from the Paul Rhoads era, I’ll give you a little reminder on how good he was. He was one of the best players during Rhoads regime. Throughout his two seasons in Ames, he averaged 4.2 yards a carry over two years and had just under 60 yards a game. Although Wimberly is almost 5 inches smaller, the way Wimberly manipulated the secondary is very similar to what Hall does.
This play right here is one his best in the cardinal & gold. He broke through the line and made a couple linebackers miss. Immediately following, he bullied his way past two defensive backs to score a touchdown. The way that they use elite body control to sliver their way through the defense is something that both do very well.
From a style standpoint, the transition from Montgomery to Hall won’t be without flaws and changes, but the good news is that they won’t have to alter the game plan much. It will still be a healthy dose of counters, screen passes, and RPO’s out of the pistol. All three of which, seem to be right up Hall’s alley.
Breece probably won’t be the day one starter, but he will definitely see the field early. He has the great opportunity of getting to campus early and having an entire spring before his freshman year, and learn behind Johnnie Lang, Sheldon Croney Jr., and Kene Nwangwu. Those are three upperclassmen who know the problems and know how things work. From the sound of it, the staff isn’t trying to work Hall too much and is just trying to get him familiar with the system so he is ready to make an impact in the fall.
I can break down his film against high school teams all I want to make him look good, and you can do that with a lot of players, but this kid is going to be really special, and it only takes about two minutes to realize this.