For new Iowa State quarterbacks coach Jim Hofher, the act of rebuilding the Iowa State quarterbacks position started at the base. More specifically, it started with Joel Lanning’s base.
Last season, Lanning threw 1,247 yards, 10 touchdowns and completed 55.7 percent of his passes in 11 games as a redshirt sophomore, but it was clear there was room for improvement.
The Ankeny-native with a big-arm had all of the physical tools to be a stud signal-caller in the Big 12, but now he needed to refine his skills and put them all together. That’s why Hofher started with the base — his footwork.
“When you can be at your best, you’d like to have a foundation,” Hofher said after Iowa State’s practice on Thursday. “You don’t see these windmills out here for wind power on these little tiny bases. They’ve got a pretty big base. They have to to do their job. Well, a quarterback’s got to do the same thing. He’s got to be able to have a base and it’s hard to have a base if you’re really popping or hopping up and down. Got to have a good solid base.”
The process lasted all throughout the summer months. Lanning would meet up with his receivers several times a week to throw, work on his footwork and refine their route running. Everyday before practice, Hofher runs the quarterbacks through a series of drills that test their feet.
The drills and extra throwing have worked, and now Lanning says he is throwing the ball as well as ever.
“Watching film after practices, I’m just getting the ball out quicker,” Lanning said. “My feet are getting right. I’m becoming more accurate so I think it’s showing up a lot.”
Lanning said in the past he’d tend to fall off his throws, similar to a right-handed pitcher falling off the left side of the mound after his delivery in baseball. It would especially start to come out when he was trying to avoid pressure.
Now, he’s starting to set his feet and keep them solid all the way through a throw.
“I can see the play faster because if I’m slow with my feet it’s going to take a lot longer for me to see the routes and stuff like that,” Lanning said. “When I get my feet quickly set up and, you know, I’m right, then I feel fine and I feel accurate right now.”
Lanning isn’t the only one in the group that’s starting to see the offense more clearly. According to Hofher, all of the quarterbacks have started to elevate their game during the last three or four practices.
Backup Jacob Park has started to fully grasp the offense after missing the first three days of fall camp with an illness. Newly anointed third-string guy Kyle Kempt has proven that he is capable of making plays.
“We’ve got a heck of a coach, Coach Hof,” Park said. “He kind of simplifies it for us, makes it easy. The way they put things in, they put the play in and we’ll go through it and we’ll actually run the play that day. We have walk throughs so the way we do things around here really helps the quarterbacks.”
Hofher started at the base, but now he’s starting work on the rest of the turbine — I guess you could say. He’s continuing to push the group to get “two percent better” every day and everybody has the same goal in mind.
“Play and win games,” Park said. “If that’s not your goal and you’re alright with being a backup, you probably shouldn’t be playing the game.”