AMES — Is E.J. Bibbs really best tight end in the Big 12?
Probably, but Iowa State’s senior hasn’t had much of a chance to show it through the first four games of 2014.
There was the one touchdown reception at Iowa but other than that, Bibbs has mostly been silent in the form of 11 receptions for 88 yards. Bibbs, a preseason first-team All-Big 12 tight end, is only averaging 22 receiving yards per game on an offense that is playing without three receivers from its season opening depth chart.
Clearly, this is a guy who should be used more, right? That’s what Paul Rhoads thinks.
"We’d like people to not double team him and bracket him and so forth to give us an opportunity to do that,” Rhoads said on Monday. “They’re aware of him, too. They’ve done a nice job of defending him. With better opportunities we will get him the ball more, but, yeah, he’s very much a part of the package and he’s very much a targeted receiver in the stuff that we’re doing. But folks know that and they’re doing a nice job of defending him."
There could be more to this story too.
On Monday night, the Des Moines Register reported that Bibbs underwent meniscus surgery during fall camp. Rhoads has yet to talk about the injury publicly though. Despite the surgery, Bibbs has played in all four games for the Cyclones.
Why burn redshirts?
Besides the game itself, perhaps the top story to come out of Iowa State’s 49-28 loss to Baylor on Saturday was the fact that Rhoads burnt two redshirts on the offensive side of the ball. True freshmen Martinez Syria (running back) and Jauan Wesley (wide receiver) each saw action vs. the Bears.
"We need them for depth and we also need them for production,” Rhoads said. “More depth at the receiver position than the running back spot.”
Iowa State’s running backs have struggled mightily so far this season. Aaron Wimberly and DeVondrick Nealy are averaging 2.8 and 2.9 yards per carry through the first four games.
“We’ve talked about the physical size that Martinez brings that the other backs don’t bring and you saw him probably gain an extra two yards here and an extra two yards there because of that physical size,” Rhoads said. “The more reps he gets against this level of competition I think the better he’ll show up and there may be certain things that we can scheme up for him that we don’t for the other guys to help the run game."
Syria ran the ball eight times for 15 yards (1.9 yards per carry) on Saturday. He also caught a pass for six yards.
As a whole, the Cyclones are averaging 104 yards per game on the ground this season, which ranks them 113th in America.
As for Wesley, he likely wouldn’t have played this had Brett Medders not torn his ACL during practice last week. In addition to Medders, other wide outs Quenton Bundrage and P.J. Harris are both out for the season too.
Wesley did not record a catch in his first game but is listed as Jarvis West’s backup in the slot on Iowa State’s latest depth chart.