AMES — The question I’ve gotten most from people on Twitter and elsewhere since the end of Iowa State’s 49-19 loss to West Virginia has been simple.
Where was Joel Lanning?
The redshirt junior quarterback from Ankeny played only a few snaps in the Cyclones’ season-ending loss, including a short touchdown run that was called back by a chop block penalty. Lanning ran for five touchdowns in Iowa State’s win over Texas Tech last week, which made his absence even more odd.
Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell had this to say after the game.
“They were loading the box immensely and really playing man coverage and they did it for the first three quarters of the football game,” Iowa State head coach Campbell said. “So I thought, and kind of what I said earlier in the week, I knew they were going to force us to throw the football. And we were able to, we just didn’t efficiently do some things we needed to and, again, you take away those fumbles and I don’t know if it’s even, if we’re talking about that, or if Joel’s effectiveness is able to come in when we’re playing catch-up. It’s kind of more of a situation that it had anything to do with Joel.”
It makes sense, the Mountaineers would make a concerted effort to stop Lanning after his big performance last week. I could also see how the Cyclones falling behind 14-3 early in the game could’ve taken a few snaps away from the team co-captain.
That said, this quote from Campbell on Iowa State’s lack of success in the red zone, where Lanning’s had a great deal of his success, raised my eyebrows.
“I just think the reality of those guys were dropping eight at times and kind of covering us up and our inefficiency to really get the running game going inside the 10-yard line,” Campbell said. “I think they did a couple different things that prohibited us early. We just didn’t execute very well down there and that’s an area we’ve done a really good job for 11 games.”
It is easy for me, or fans, to sit and play armchair head coach, but I think a lot of people see using Lanning as something that could’ve gotten the rushing attack running more efficiently near the end zone.
At the end of the day, Campbell, and the rest of Iowa State’s coaching staff, are the only ones that truly know why Lanning didn’t see more snaps against West Virginia.