Just when it seemed like the Iowa State starting offensive line was set in stone — Tuesday happened.
The uncertainty about the top group started when redshirt freshman Bryce Meeker’s former high school coach, Mike Morrissey, tweeted that Meeker would be making his first career start when UNI visits Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday.
Congratulations to Bryce Meeker, who’s making his first college start this weekend at Iowa State! Extremely proud of you!
— Mike Morrissey (@CoachMorrissey7) August 30, 2016
Meeker was listed as the backup center on Iowa State’s depth chart released before Matt Campbell’s press conference on Monday, which led to the confusion surrounding the tweet. Iowa State offensive coordinator, and offensive line coach Tom Manning made the situation a little more clear on Tuesday night.
“We certainly haven’t solidified any of that stuff yet,” Manning said. “That’d be news to me. We kind of have always gone through, especially in week one, and we try to get through our Wednesday practice and really evaluate what is the best lineup for us. We’ve kind of always done that all the way through. He has taken a lot of reps with the ones throughout fall camp and he’s done a really good job and he’s certainly in contention with a couple other guys to do so.”
It isn’t any secret that Iowa State has been trying to put together a consistent top group since junior Jake Campos injured his leg during fall camp. That said, it did seem like the Cyclones had found a solid top group in JayPee Philbert, Patrick Scoggins, Brian Bobek, Nick Fett and Julian Good-Jones.
“I don’t know if you’d say there’s any spots totally up for grabs,” Manning said. “I think it’s we’re still trying to kind of fine tune a couple things and see is there certain packages we want different guys in. Kind of the rotation of how those things go. I think sometimes there’s a misconception that there’s five guys that have to play right next to in certain spots for the whole game and I guess, maybe, I don’t really believe in that. I think we’ve got to find how that whole flow of the football game is going to go and if somebody can help us, they’re going to play in the game.”
I think it is safe to say that we won’t really know Iowa State’s starting offensive line until they run onto the field for their first play on Saturday.
Other notes from availability
*** Manning said the staff doesn’t necessarily script out their plays, but they do pick out a handful that they feel will be successful going into the game.
“We try to find the flow of the football game, but we try to list about 10 plays,” Manning said. “You could think you know what’s going on, but you really don’t know what’s going on. From your end, you don’t know how to execute and from the defensive side you don’t really know what they’re going to do either. We will have, and we always have, had 10 or so plays that we believe are really good in the football game that we try to stick the best we can. At the same time, you know, if you script those plays and maybe that situation or scenario doesn’t match and you’re just calling plays off a script, that gets tough.”
*** Manning said Joel Lanning won’t have free reign when it comes to making checks at the line of scrimmage, but there will be a few checks he can make into different reads.
“We try to put that in our hands as much as we can,” Manning said. “He’s more than capable of doing so, but we feel that there’s a few formations here and there that Joel has the ability to, maybe if he doesn’t like something, check to something different. But I think Joel’s job is to play and our job is to make sure that we’re putting him in the best situations to do so. We don’t want to overload anybody.”
*** Matt Campbell will meet with the media on Wednesday.