Josh Knipfel, Julian Good-Jones and Bryce Meeker are all gone from the starting rotation, and had been a staple of the offensive line over the last three seasons. While they were great, reliable pieces to have for all these years, and normally I would be a bit more worried about losing these three guys, Matt Campbell has spent a great deal of time building depth for when these guys were done at Iowa State. More on that later.
I am not going to rehash the incoming freshman again. You can go back to our recruit profiles we did recently and touch base with some of the incoming freshman on the offensive line. What I will bring up is some of the names you may see pop up playing this upcoming season on the offensive line that we haven’t seen before.
I’ll start off with Joey Ramos. Ramos got a bit of game action last year when Julian Good-Jones had to come off the field for a series at Texas Tech. Ramos played well on that drive, which ultimately ended in a touchdown pass to Charlie Kolar. Ramos, in my opinion, could have played his first year on campus. I even think we will see an uptick at the level of play at one of the tackle positions.
Another tackle that has jumped out is Grant Trieber. There has been rumblings that he is the pick to play left tackle. I think you can play him at either side and have Ramos taking the other and be just fine. Other than being new to starting for Iowa State, I don’t think there will be much competition at tackle for Treiber and Ramos.
Finally is big Rob Hudson. The 6 foot 7, 360 pound monster is one of the favorites to fill the void left by Josh Knipfel. He’s much bigger than a typical guard, but he is certainly a road grader and Iowa State needs to be able to move people off the ball in the run game. He’s going to be a fun one to watch this upcoming season.
Leader of the Pack
Trevor Downing, of course. We all know he is Iowa State’s best offensive lineman. This will not change going into this season. He should continue to steadily improve throughout his career, to the point where the NFL may be calling sooner rather than later.
Collin Newell is back and healthy to anchor the center position down. Iowa State had to jumble some people around last season at times to piece together the offensive line after Newell’s injury. He’s one that needs to be able to be the first attacker and moving defenders off the ball, and is great at holding blocks and allowing some space. I want to see him being the one to create it in 2020. If he does that, it takes this offensive line to another level.
The weak spot of the Matt Campbell era has been the offensive line, due in part to the cupboard being left bare upon his arrival, which has taken time to rebuild the depth and have access to the personnel to make it all work. 2020 is the year we finally get to see the plan in place.
While there are three starters departing and holes to fill, I feel confident this bunch may be the best offensive line that Matt Campbell has bunched together. Not only on size on strength currently but the potential is possesses.
While it’s great that we have Brock Purdy and a group of talented receivers and tight ends. None of that matters if this group can’t get the ball rolling. I want to see execution at the second level of defenses on run blocking, giving the running back group more space to run, and adequate time for Brock Purdy to get passes off without being smashed after release. Which should also allow Purdy to stay healthy longer this season compared to last.
Put all these things together and the 2020 season can be a memorable one.