Nov 18, 2017; Waco, TX, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back David Montgomery (32) is tackled by Baylor Bears cornerback Verkedric Vaughns (27) at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports
AMES — Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell needed just a handful of swiftly-delivered words to describe star tailback David Montgomery’s health status this week.
“He’ll be ready to roll,” Campbell said.
Simple as that. No further discussion. Thank God.
“I feel great, actually,” said Montgomery, who rushed for a season-high 144 yards in Saturday’s 23-13 win at Baylor before suffering a late ankle injury that appeared to be far worse than it was. “I feel real good. Just got to make sure I get treatment well this week and make sure to be real cautious in practice and I’ll be ready to go on Saturday.”
Montgomery — who eclipsed the 1,000 rushing yards mark Saturday — endured sharp pain when a pair of Bears tacklers pinned his ankles, then bent his upper body back toward the turf with less than five minutes left.
A cart was summoned to carry him off for further examination, but X-rays came back negative in terms of any possible breaks or tears.
“My initial reaction was probably just, first and foremost, calm down,” said Montgomery, who hopes to have a big impact in Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. Big 12 regular season finale at Kansas State. “It happened so fast. I’ve never felt that pain before, but my initial reaction was just to calm down and when I got to that point I knew everything was all right. Just had to get up from there.”
The sterling sophomore back will be needed to test a Wildcats defense that ranks third in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (122.4).
Montgomery’s already shattered the record for forced missed tackles with 101 this season. Pro Football Focus has tracked the stat since the 2014 season. Montgomery totaled 13 on Saturday alone — pushing him 12 past the previous record-holder, Dalvin Cook of Florida State.
That’s big time, right, David? Especially surpassing the 1,000-yard barrier? You know his response to that question already.
“(It means) nothin,’” Montgomery said. “It’s just another number with an extra digit, I guess. It really doesn’t do anything for the team, I guess. I mean, individual accolades (are) cool, but when you’re doing good as a team, that’s way more better.”
The Cyclones (7-4, 5-3) have a chance to snap a nine-game skid against K-State, as well as set a program record for conference wins while enhancing their bowl prospects.
“We obviously want to go the best bowl we can and then the aspect of you don’t want to lose the last (regular season) game of the season,” said linebacker Joel Lanning, who ranks 18 nationally in tackles per game at 9.4 “It’s going to be a tough game down there.”
Tough — just like Montgomery, who said heat therapy is a vital component to the treatment process that will be key this week..
“It’s a lot of hot, make sure I’m keeping my ligaments warm, so I’m very mobile and make sure they don’t get tight on me so when I actually am ready to go, that they don’t tense up on me,” Montgomery said. “It’s just really a lot of that. I have all my trust in the hands of the trainer’s staff.”
He has a lot of trust in his backups — Sheldon Croney and Mike Warren — as well.
Obviously “ready to roll” and fully healthy are two entirely different things and Croney’s done well spelling Montgomery occasionally in recent weeks as Warren’s tried to recover from an undisclosed injury.
“All the running backs in that room, they help me so much just as a person, mentally and physically,” Montgomery said. “Without those guys I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing.”