Sep 8, 2018; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones offensive lineman Josh Knipfel (66) blocks for Iowa State Cyclones running back David Montgomery (32) in their game with the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes beat the Cyclones 13 to 3. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
The performance of Iowa State’s offensive line was certainly one of the biggest disappointments coming out the Cyclones’ season-opening 13-3 loss to Iowa on Saturday, but Matt Campbell is not planning to make any major changes to the group leading up to the team’s game this week against Oklahoma (11 a.m. on ABC).
One major change was made last week when junior Julian Good-Jones replaced listed starter, and redshirt freshman, Colin Newell at center, the position Good-Jones played all last season, after spending the majority of fall camp at tackle. The move pushed Newell out of the starting group, and really the entire rotation while reinserting Sean Foster as the starter at left tackle.
“I think we’re a work in progress right now until we can settle in and get into a groove,” Campbell said. “At times, we felt like we were there during fall camp and then I think the early part of the season with missing out on that first game and then working through Saturday, I still think we’re still trying to pinpoint that. I think it’s unfair to say we’re set in stone and this is how we’re going moving forward, but I don’t know if I would see drastic changes yet. There’s got to be some time for growth and development right now.”
Now, whether or not that means Campbell plans to reinsert Newell in the starting lineup remains to be seen and that could be cleared up when the Cyclones’ week three depth chart is released later in the day on Monday.
Newell’s removal from the starting lineup was unanticipated after Campbell and his staff had spent the majority of the offseason raving about the Ames natives abilities, but he said after the game it was in large part due to a need for experience up-front entering a hostile Kinnick Stadium environment.
Regardless of who is in the starting five, the offensive line will remain the biggest cause for concern for Iowa State’s offense for the immediate future.
“I think the growth in that room and that group has been good but the growth has to come playing under the lights and getting experience,” Campbell said. “You talk about their first two tests being a very veteran, talented group last week and then going into a very talented group this week. They’re getting thrown in the fire really fast but I think it’s a group that will really pay dividends down the road having had to go against this competition early in the season.”
*** Starting quarterback Kyle Kempt remains day-to-day following a knee injury in the loss to Iowa. Campbell said his status for Saturday’s game against the Sooners is uncertain, but Kempt will be the guy if he is good to go.
“I just think (Kyle’s) got to be confident,” Campbell said when asked what he needs to see in order for Kempt to be available. “I think that’s the biggest thing. I trust him as much as anybody with knowing where he’s at based on the middle of the week. I think he’ll really have a great understanding. He was the one who knew he couldn’t go any longer on Saturday. I appreciate that about him. I was glad he said it when he did so he didn’t hurt himself any worse. The reality is we certainly dodged a big bullet.”
*** Oklahoma received bad news over the weekend when it was announced star running back Rodney Anderson had sustained a season-ending injury. Campbell said he has great respect for Anderson’s talent but does not see the loss really affecting the Sooners that heavily.
“I would say this about their recruiting and what they’ve done there and I think that’s kind of one the things about being at Oklahoma is there are backups,” Campbell said. “There are guys that certainly are capable of being the starter and being a big-time guy. I don’t know if at that position it totally changes who they’re schematically as much as something else or somewhere else. I think when you look at them as a whole offensively, they’re so systematic. Obviously, a great system that’s been ultra-productive. It all starts with the quarterback and his ability to get the ball to playmakers in space. I really don’t see that changing.”
*** Campbell said new Sooner signal-caller Kyler Murray has basically picked up where Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield left off last season.
“I think that’s really hard to do when you lose a talent and leadership like Baker Mayfield,” Campbell said. “A lot of credit to the young man that’s now running the show. He’s talented, he can run, but I think most impressively is his ability to throw the football. We’ve talked a lot about that over the last couple days is his ability, timing and ball placement within the system has been outstanding. The credit goes to him. I think the work he’s put in and certainly understanding their system, they look like they’re hitting on all cylinders right now.”