AMES — If you take a quick look at the only depth chart that Iowa State has released so far during 2013’s fall camp, you’ll see junior offensive lineman Jacob Gannon listed as the first-team left guard. That’s because when the depth chart was initially released, Iowa State wasn’t quite sure what to think about the young guards within its program – guys like Oni Omoile and Jamison Lalk to name a few.
However, it has always been clear that playing Gannon, a 6-foot-7, 300-pounder, primarily at tackle, has been the preference. After Monday’s morning practice session, Iowa State’s offensive line coach Chris Klenakis confirmed that tackle is indeed where the versatile Gannon has spent the majority of his time this camp.
“We’ve been really fortunate to be able to work Jacob mainly at tackle this camp because our younger guards – Oni (Omoile) is coming along,” Klenakis said. “Daniel Burton is coming along. Ethan Tuftee is in there. I’ve been really happy with Jamison Lalk in there at guard. He has been making progress.”
The adaptable Gannon can play either position and as he’s proven over the last two seasons that he can be an adequate Big 12 lineman at either spot. But he’s a natural tackle and keeping him there is the best thing for Iowa State for two reasons.
The first is that tackle is his natural position and secondly, it means that depth has developed inside over the last two weeks. That’s a very good thing.
How deep will the Cyclones go on the offensive line when Aug. 31’s date with UNI comes around? That is still to be determined.
“I’ll go as deep as we are good enough to go,” Klenakis said. “I’ve had years that I only went with five. I don’t trust the sixth guy and I won’t play him. If I trust eight, I will play eight.”
I followed up that quote by asking Klenakis if there is a magic number in terms of how many guys he’d like to play in any given game.
“There can’t be. Not in this business,” Klenakis said. “You can’t put guys in that position on the offensive line on the field that aren’t ready to play because it will show up really fast.”
How good Iowa State’s offensive line will be this fall is still a toss-up. After all, it’s only Aug. 19. But Gannon spending the majority of his time at tackle so far is a very good sign.
One guy who is almost guaranteed to be in that rotation is redshirt sophomore Brock Dagel. Dagel, a 6-foot-8, 297-pound tackle, said that he is a completely different player this August compared to that of a year ago.
“I’m more aggressive. More tenacity,” Dagel said. “I’m a way better technician than I was a year ago. Coach ‘K’ has definitely helped with our technique and it is definitely helping me drive people off the ball a lot stronger.”
When Dagel originally checked into Iowa State two years ago, he weighed 249 pounds.
“I looked like a basketball player,” Dagel said. “Now that I am bigger, I can actually do the things that I want to do and not have to worry about not making a block. I can focus more on being smart because I can trust my body to make those plays.”