Lanning preps to play for fourth coordinator in four years

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DALLAS — If Joel Lanning struggles at the start of the 2016 season, conventional wisdom says that fans should cut him some slack. After all, Iowa State’s starting quarterback is about to begin fall camp under his fourth offensive coordinator (Courtney Messingham, Mark Mangino, Todd Sturdy and Tom Manning) in four years.

“This will be my fourth so I know how to handle it,” Lanning said on Monday at the Big 12’s media day. “Now I know what to expect and how to do things.”


That quote, where he admits to being used to instability within the program, is kind of sad. You can’t help but feel for the talented young man who hails from Ankeny. Four coordinators in four years is hard for anybody on the offense. For a quarterback, it’s brutal.

Don’t look for Lanning, who threw for 1,247 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions last season, to use the eye-popping stat as crutch though. The same can be said for his new head coach, Matt Campbell, who chose to paint a positive picture regarding this very negative scenario.

“I think that’s been a huge opportunity for him,” an enthusiastic Campbell said.

Come again?

“The reality is that I think we (coaches) are all pretty similar,” Campbell explained. “I think there are a lot of parallels that he can put into what he has been able to do in the past.”

Lanning isn’t quite sure what to expect from the new offensive coaching staff. Most of the spring was spent installing another new system for him to learn, but how that system will actually be used is still a mystery.

“We are going to chuck it deep this year,” Lanning said. “They like to run the ball a lot too so we might see some quarterback runs more but I’m down for anything.”

Joel-Dozer No More

Lanning earned a lot of fans in a 24-0 shutout over Texas. In addition to winning his first career start, Lanning showed off his wrestler mentality by running over multiple Longhorn defenders when he simply could have slid or run out of bounds.

On the day Campbell was hired, Lanning told me that he would never be a slider.

Times have changed. The Campbell staff has tamed this monster.

“The wrestler in me wants to go after everyone,” Lanning said. “But I’m probably going to have to get down a little more. If it’s 3rd down or something and we need it, go get it but if it is 1st down, why hit someone when you can go down and be safer?”

That isn’t nearly as fun, but it’s important to his head coach.

“I can promise you that nobody more than I do loves turning on the video and watching him run through people,” Campbell said. “But I also need him to be on the field. As we begin to develop the depth around him and I do think that we have a decent chance to have a good quarterback situation going into the fall, I think it allows us to put the ball in his hands and we don’t have to be so conscious about the number of hits he takes. We have to be smart. It’s a long season. We need him to be healthy and to be at his best. There are times you want to get out of bounds. There are times that you want to slide and there are probably times where Joel will continue to run the football.”