Everybody knew that Tom Manning was in for a tall task when he took over as Iowa State’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach back in December. On Monday, when it was officially announced that redshirt junior offensive tackle Jake Campos had suffered a possibly season ending injury, Manning’s task of putting together a serviceable line got even taller.
Campos suffered a lower-leg injury during the Cyclones’ fall camp scrimmage that forced him to have surgery to insert 13 screws and two plates late Sunday night, a source told Cyclone Fanatic.
Former Iowa State offensive lineman, and now the sideline reporter for the Cyclone Radio Network, Ben Bruns texted with Campos on Sunday after hearing the news.
“You know what, he’s just like, ‘I’m going to get done what I need to get done and heal up and come back,’” Bruns told 1460 KXNO’s Sports Fanatics program on Monday afternoon. “I think the silver lining may be personally for him. When you play as much as he has as a young guy, you get a lot of miles on your tires before the NFL comes around. Ideally, offensive line is a position where you’ve got a couple years as an understudy, and you know, it sucks. You’re competitive, you want to play, but you sit there and watch a guy who’s a junior or a senior and maybe you battle with him for some playing time.”
Campos had no such luxury during his Iowa State career and made his first of 23 starts during his redshirt freshman season in 2014. Unfortunately, the same will likely be said for at least one of the redshirt freshmen offensive linemen on Iowa State’s roster currently.
Julian Good-Jones seems to be the front-runner to move from center to tackle and take over Campos’ spot on the right side. That move could also put reserve center Bryce Meeker into a position where he will have to play significant snaps as a redshirt freshman.
“I like Good-Jones. I think he’s a tough kid. I think he’s got the ability to grind it out with guys,” Bruns said about the 6-foot-5-inch, 295-pound, Cedar Rapids-native. “Maybe if he gets a little out of position, he’s athletic enough to recover. He is not as developed as he needs to be in order to play a guy at the defensive end spot who is really explosive and fast. So, he’ll struggle with the best defensive ends in the league, where, obviously, a guy like Campos doesn’t.”
Junior Shawn Curtis is also likely to get his first chance at major playing time in his Iowa State career as he was Campos’ backup on the most recently released depth chart. The 6-foot-5-inch, 295-pound, Orlando, Fla., native, has seen time on special teams, but very little with the offense.
“Kind of that gritty guy that’s a junior that, maybe, gets a shot,” Bruns said about Curtis. “Really what you want is you want seven or eight guys that you know that you can believe in. By my count right now, Iowa State has seven, maybe, eight guys, that you can put out there. The issue is can they win the battle more often that they don’t? I think that’s going to be a challenge.”
Bruns, who played for Dan McCarney at ISU from 1996-2000, went on to say he has been impressed with the job Manning has done so far at Iowa State.
The first time offensive coordinator and 2014 Football Scoop offensive line coach of the year, is definitely in for a challenge as he constructs a scheme that can fit his offensive line, but the fact that he will know the group’s strengths and weaknesses as well as, or likely better, than anyone else could make the process a little more simple.
“When the offensive line coach is the OC, you start with what can we protect, what can we run that’s going to be successful and then build everything off of that,” Bruns said. “It’s great to have something that will pick the defense apart down the field, but if you can’t protect it, it doesn’t work, so get rid of it. Offensive line coaches as offensive coordinators and head coaches understand that. So I think they’ll have an opportunity to simplify protections. Now, it may limit Iowa State’s offensive capabilities in certain sets, but I think they’re also going to expect these guys to go perform. They’re going to expect them to go be tough and will they expect them to make some mistakes? Yes. Will they expect them to get just beat sometimes? Yes, but they’re not going to tolerate that. No excuses, there will zero excuses from these guys. They’re out to win ball games. Simple as that.”