AMES — Once ISU offensive coordinator Mark Mangino took his seat high atop Jack Trice Stadium for the season-opening loss to North Dakota State, he immediately regretted it.
Sure it afforded him a bird’s-eye view of how his schemes would be executed.
But it felt strange.
The wrong place to be when there’s teaching to be done.
“I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I’m a hands-on guy,” said Mangino, who descended to the field for last week’s 32-28 loss to 19th-ranked Kansas State. “I’m a guy that likes to look the players in the face. I like to get the feel for what the sideline is all about — the mindset of the team in different parts of the game. I want to be able to interact with the players and the the coaches on the field. It’s just not my style. I tired it, I gave it a shot sitting upstairs and it’s just not me.”
Not by a long shot.
And he won’t be pushing that up arrow on the elevator again anytime soon, if ever.
“It was tough,” Mangino said. “I had absolutely no communication with one player during the North Dakota State game. And my thing is I like to teach, I like to correct issues, I like to be hands-on. I knew as soon as I sat up there at the beginning of the game, I said, ‘I think I made a mistake. I don’t think I belong up here.’”
But Mangino didn’t need a players-level frame of reference to discern that marked improvement occurred from week one to week two.
“I think the kids really understand (the offense) a lot better,” said Mangino, who saw his offense score 21 points in a 16-minute span Saturday before being shutout after halftime. “I think they’ve developed some confidence after week one. We realized what we can do well and what we’re not good at and we’ve built on the things that we really can do well. I think it’s starting to come together. The picture is slowly coming together for the kids on offense. There was a lot of improvement from week one to week two, but not enough. We’ve got to get better. We understand that and that’s our focus for this week.”
Mangino said the offense still did too many things to stop itself.
The Cyclones (0-2) converted just one third-down opportunity in the second half against the Wildcats.
The week before, ISU managed just 57 second-half yards against the Bison.
“We can’t let those things happen,” Mangino said. “We can’t stop ourselves. No discredit to anybody — K-State’s defense played phenomenal, but at times we hurt ourselves.”
Mangino felt he’d done the same thing when he made the call to coach from the press box in the season opener.
He understands it works for many, but it’s just not for him.
“For some coordinators, they love it,” Mangino said. “They sit there and sip on their Pepsi all day, or cup of coffee and call plays and things like that. I feel better doing it on the field. I like the interaction with the players. I can feel their pulse so to speak and that’s what I like about it.”
Reports that Iowa’s star senior offensive tackle Brandon Scherff underwent knee surgery Tuesday circulated quickly through social and traditional media — and to Ames.
Scherff, NFL.com’s Gil Brandt said in July, is among a handful of players who can legitimately be viewed as potential No. 1 Draft picks in 2015.
Is he out for Saturday, though?
Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz didn’t say exactly.
“He’s day-to-day right now,” the Iowa coach said in Tuesday’s weekly news conference. “He was injured Saturday and we have a couple of guys that are stiff and sore right now. We’ll see how it goes.”
Regardless, ISU’s defense won’t approach the Hawkeyes (2-0) offense any differently.
“He’s everything they’ve said,” Cyclone defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said of Scherff. “We’re preparing like he’s there. It won’t change our preparation at all. We’ve got to play the same plays, whoever’s blocking us at that position. We’ve got to rush the passer, whoever’s blocking us at that position, so really, it’s immaterial to us who’s there. We’ve got to go play our game.”
ISU coach Paul Rhoads identified Scherff’s potential early.
So much so, he felt he was close to landing Scherff, a Denison native, on the Cyclones’ roster out of high school.
“He had an Iowa State background,” Rhoads said. “He and the family had an Iowa State background and yeah we thought we had a good chance. In the end something turned and we couldn’t pull him back.”