Sep 10, 2016; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back Mike Warren (2) reaches for a pass in front of Iowa Hawkeyes linebacker Josey Jewell (43) during the first half at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
AMES — Frustration was brewing on Saturday night following Iowa State’s 42-3 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes.
It peaked during Matt Campbell’s postgame press conference when he was asked why star running back Mike Warren only received seven carries in a blowout loss to the rival Hawkeyes.
This response created a lot of chatter:
“Mike’s the guy that’s got to practice well and (has) got to be the guy that’s accountable on and off the field too in some ways,” Campbell said. “So Michael’s got talent. And we’ve really got some competition back there in my opinion right now as well at the tailback position. I think there’s a couple times for Mike to make some plays tonight and we just didn’t make those plays. Again it’s not fair because we haven’t really sustained anything in the running game for any of our running backs and we’re going to have to.”
What exactly was that?
Campbell, who later seemed almost surprised at the amount of response that the comments stirred, was asked about them again on Monday.
“Mike is no different than anybody else, Campbell said. “I think it is tough for Michael because Michael gets so much of with the season that he had a year ago and obviously this season, he has been thrusted into the spotlight. A lot of that comes with having success and from what he did a year ago. I understand that.”
Through the first two games of 2016, Warren has run the ball 19 times for only 58 yards. That’s after tallying 1,339 during his freshman campaign.
“My challenge to Michael is my challenge to all of our players,” Campbell said. “We have to continue to get better. We have to continue to work in practice and our process with the offseason into the season and into practice. We have to be the best that we possibly can be.”
Still, it sounds like Warren is at least a little bit in Campbell’s doghouse.
“My only point with Mike is that Mike knew and we knew what expectations would be put on Mike,” Campbell said. “To handle a new offensive line, a new offensive coordinator, a brand new offense, he has to make sure to be at his best constantly so he can handle all of that that comes at him. Mike has had a lot on his shoulders. That was the case in the offseason and will continue to be because mike is a great football player. That’s all I meant and I think that’s the case for all of us. It wasn’t taking a dig at Mike or anything like that. Mike has to get better, as do all of us. Mike is going to be a guy who brings everybody with him especially with what his talent allows him to be.”
Iowa State’s rush offense is currently ranked 114th nationally averaging only 88.5 yards per game.
So yeah, that could have been a subtle message from coach to player. For the sake of the Cyclones, let’s all hope that message was well received.