Iowa State’s issues on the offensive line last season were well documented. The injuries piled up and as a result, so did the opposition’s sack numbers.
Specifics: Iowa State started 10 different offensive linemen in at least a game last season. Six Cyclone offensive linemen missed a game due to injury. In 12 games, the Cyclones started nine different offensive line combinations.That is a lot of time spent in the trainer’s room but it’s also a lot of guys who got valuable experience that normally wouldn’t have.
The latter point appears to have carried over to the spring, which is a big plus.
“I don’t know if it is fair for me to say but I would probably say that I am most pleased with our offensive line of any group right now,” Paul Rhoads said after Saturday’s scrimmage. “I think Brandon Blaney is doing an exceptional job with them.”
That is the case even with projected starter (at tackle) Brock Dagel being out with a minor leg injury.
“What you see there for me to make a statement like that is a combination of blocks,” Rhoads said. “Pass protection was not and has not been great for us. They are doing a better job of that albeit against a makeshift defensive line but I have been very pleased with those top two units and that includes guys like Jake Campos and Ryan Glenn that are up running with those guys.”
Campos, a redshirt freshman out of West Des Moines, has been running with the ones due to Dagel’s injury.
“Ryan Glenn is running with the twos and both of those kids are transitioning very well,” Rhoads said.
Progress on the offensive line is welcomed news to new offensive coordinator Mark Mangino.
“With most teams, the offensive line is the heart and soul of your unit. Those guys have taken on that role and are taken it seriously,” Mangino said. “I think they are progressing. I like what they are doing. I think we are doing a much better job than we were in the beginning of spring of just being assignment sound or as we say, getting a hat on a hat. We are at the point where they understand getting a hat on a hat but now it is fundamentally executing it on a consistent basis. I like the way they approach the game. That is a very caring bunch of guys that really care about their performance.”
The offensive line will get an additional boost in the summer when Wendell Taiese, a 6-foot-5, 355-pound guard out of Laney C.C. arrives on campus. Though he didn’t make it to Ames for spring drills, he is a guy who insiders say could still make an immediate impact during his junior season in Ames.
Iowa State is set to return all five starters from its primary offensive line a season ago along with a bulk of reserves who have seen significant playing time as well.
Two defensive standouts
Two members of Iowa State’s secondary have stood out to Wally Burnham this spring. Sophomore cornerback Nigel Tribune is one of them.
"He’s been making plays all spring," Burnham said. "He is one of those guys who we have to have at that point to make plays every time he has a chance.”
The other is young strong safety.
“T.J. Mutcherson is a playmaker but he’s not consistent so we have to get him more consistent.”