Oct 29, 2016; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Jacob Park (10) is pressured by Kansas State Wildcats defensive tackle Trey Dishon (99) at Jack Trice Stadium. The Wildcats beat the Cyclones 31-26. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
AMES, Iowa. — Finally, there might be some clarity.
One of the biggest question marks surrounding the Iowa State football team this season has been the logic behind the quarterback rotation. For several weeks, it didn’t really seem like there was any rhyme or reason to when Jacob Park would relieve Joel Lanning — or vice versa.
That changed after Iowa State’s 31-26 loss to Kansas State on Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.
“I think it was a little bit tough sledding for Joel early because it’s a situation where we end up getting down, we kind of keep Jacob in just because I think his efficiency in throwing the football is a little bit better,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said. “Then we started using those guys together and I thought that really gave us a little bit of momentum in the second half of the game.”
Park took the majority of the snaps against the Wildcats, throwing for 301 yards on 19-of-35 passes and two touchdowns. He bounced back from an early (and, frankly, bad) interception to nearly lead a comeback in the fourth quarter.
He was poised and efficient for much of the second half in which Iowa State outscored Kansas State 23-14. That said, people are mostly going to remember the throw he didn’t complete.
The Cyclones had the ball first and goal at the K-State one-yard line. A Lanning run was stuffed on first down. The same could be said for David Montgomery on second and Lanning, again, on third down.
Park returned behind center then rolled to his right after taking the snap. His pass sailed over the head of a wide open Montgomery in the end zone. A touchdown would’ve made it a one-score game, but instead K-State got the football backed up against their own goal line.
“It was just a bad pass by me,” Park said. “We had him wide open in the end zone. Made that throw 100 times this week and I just didn’t make it when it counted. It’s something we’ve got to work on.”
The Iowa State defense did its part by stopping the Wildcats in the end zone for a safety. Park and Lanning rotated as signal-caller during the next series, driving the offense deep inside of Wildcats territory.
It was starting to seem like the mid-drive rotation could be Iowa State’s best option moving forward this season. Alas, the drive stalled and Iowa State turned the ball over on downs.
Park came back to lead the offense down the field late to bring the Cyclones within five points with less than a minute to go. The offense had clearly found a rhythm with Park behind center, but Lanning was still close by in case his number was called in a short yardage situation.
There might finally be some clarity to this quarterback carousel.
“I think it says everything about the character of Joel Lanning,” Campbell said. “You know, you can go a lot of places and that guy could have been ticked off because he wasn’t in the game, but that guy stays right in the football game. I’ve said this numerous times: I love everything that Joel Lanning stands for. I don’t know if I can express that enough. He really did a great job staying focused, staying attentive to what we asking him to do and really made a huge impact in the football game. Really proud of him.”