Sep 21, 2019; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell celebrates during their game against the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones beat the Warhawks 72 to 20. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
The following is a transcript of Matt Campbell’s time on Monday morning’s Big 12 Teleconference. Some of the questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Q: Is the team where you envisioned them being at the end of non-conference play?
Campbell: I think we’re trending a lot closer to where we want to be after last weekend. After our first two games, I really felt like we were close in a lot of areas. I thought the ability to put it all together last week allowed us to be a lot closer to where we want to be. I think that’s what’s hard about football. You’re never exactly where you want to be, but I think you always want to be around it or close to it and continuing to strive to get there. I thought we made really good progress last week to where we want to be.
Q: Has the offensive line progressed the way you expected them to?
Campbell: Again, I think this group earned its confidence through spring, through fall, through the summer. They’ve worked really hard to continue to make the progress that they needed to. Even some of the progress that they made last year, I think they knew there was another step. I think they’re working towards becoming the best version of themselves. I think to be able to see that against good opponents has been positive for those guys and to understand what it takes week in and week out, even day in and day out, to be able to play with that consistent factor, that’s big. Obviously, another huge test this week.
Q: What allowed the offense to compile the yards it did against ULM?
Campbell: I think for us offensively that was such a young group coming into this season. The veteranness with that group was, obviously, with Brock’s play and his ability to play in over half the games last season and then a lot of starts and a lot of play on the offensive line. Other than that, the wide receivers are almost all brand-new, the running backs are all brand-new, the tight ends elevated opportunities within the offense. I think with that offense, you almost can see it from the first week to the second week to the third week, has really grown. I expect it to continue to grow through the season. I think that’s just part of playing and getting live game reps and being put in situations and working through it together. I think that’s been fun to watch that group continue to grow together because we think we do have some guys that can do some things with the football in their hand.
Q: Can you continue to get Re-al Mitchell involved through the season?
Campbell: Re-al’s a great example of that. He’s just kind of been waiting for his opportunity to get in. I think there is certainly a role for Re-al in our offense. It’s a little tricky because he is a guy that offensively can play quarterback. We believe that and know that and have seen that. It was great to get visual evidence of that this past Saturday. What else and how else can we use him? I think our job as coaches is some of our best players, we’ve got to find ways to get our best players on the field and put them in positions to be successful. I think that’s something that we’ll continue to try to unfold as the season goes on for sure.
Q: Injury updates on Johnnie Lang, Kene Nwagwu and Greg Eisworth?
Campbell: I would say right now with Johnnie is he’s a definite. He will play in the game, probably could have went back into the game last Saturday if we needed him to. Kene’s probably more questionable right now. Obviously, we’ll see where he’s at and the positive is there’s nothing nagging or nothing that is really bad. Just kind of some soreness in some areas that could be limiting to his play. Greg is the same thing. He could have gone back in last week if we needed him to as well. Both Johnnie and Greg I would expect to play and Kene is questionable going into this one.
Q: Thoughts on Brock Purdy’s performance after watching the tape?
Campbell: I thought he did a great job. Again, I think my most impressive piece with Brock was the first couple plays there were some missed assignments that ended up putting him in a tough situation and we turned the ball over twice early. For the common football player, at times, that’s stressful. I think it could be stressful for a lot of people. He’s got this unique ability that when tough things happen, he stays present and can overcome them really fast. You saw that in the bowl game. I thought did a great job of overcoming some bad things early and gave us a great chance to win that game. Then just his ability to elevate his play when some unfortunate situations happened early in that football game, to elevate it the way he did, I think that’s probably what’s maybe more impressive than anything. I think a lot of guys would struggle to do what he did in that game.
Q: Is the toughness of the last few games against Baylor a product of the way each program approaches things or just how it has played out?
Campbell: I think (there are) a lot of similarities that way. I think Coach (Matt) Rhule’s history with the success he’s had at Temple to where he’s done a great job now at Baylor. I think the attitude and effort investment is very similar in both programs. You can see it in the way their kids play. They’re off to a great start right now on both sides of the ball. I think that’s what jumps off the videotape is how hard their kids play. I think a lot of similarities at least in the foundations of how they’re built.
Q: How has Charlie Kolar improved up to this point?
Campbell: I just, for him, it’s so much experience. That’s where, you can even see him right now, he’s playing at such a high-level where the experience of going through situations and knowing where to get the football, year three in the offense, he’s gotten quality, meaningful reps. He’s a kid that’s playing with so much confidence. He can beat you with his arms, he can beat you with his legs. He’s a guy that I think provides a great challenge and is a guy who is so verteran in the system. Not only the intangibles he’s got physically but the mental piece of it too, it makes him really special.
Q: Should every team have two bye weeks during the season?
Campbell: That’s probably a great question and not something I’ve put much thought into. I think we’re all getting a really great example of that in this season in which there’s obviously 14 weeks to play a 12 game schedule. I think, at least from my standpoint, this is the first time I’ve gotten to experience that. I’ll have a really good understanding of that after the season. I’ll probably be better equipped for that question.
Q: Should officials be allowed to watch targetting calls in slow motion?
Campbell: Another really good question. I think those are tough. There’s just the nuances of the rule, that’s a really tough play to judge full speed. I think that’s why the officiating has done a great job of taking that rule and being able to slow it down and take a look at what happened because I think the offense to it of a player missing time even though he maybe didn’t offend the rule when at full speed it looks like he did. I think that would be the innaccuate way to go about it because that’s a bang-bang call. It’s a hard call to make and I think officials do a great job of protecting our players and have done a great job of protecting the integrity of the game and being confident in making that call but then going back and making sure that’s the right thing to call. I think our game has gotten a lot closer to where we want to be in doing it the right way with how we’re doing it right now.