Football

Clanton impressed by offensive line’s growth in spring ball

Ryan Clanton is about the details.

It doesn’t matter if he’s coaching Iowa State’s offensive line or answering questions about offensive line play with the media. He doesn’t shy away from the details or speak in vague terms.

He’s direct. He’s sharp. He’s impressive to listen to talking offensive line play.

It all goes back to those details.

“They’ve been very physical,” Clanton said about the Cyclones’ first 10 spring practices. “A lot of teaching, a lot of learning. Those guys have, every single day, made huge progress. A whole different way of playing offensive line. I believe in those guys really raging off the ball, getting after the defense and creating that competition level. Really raising the standard from the, from the room and like, really unlocking everybody’s full potential. That comes with simplification. You really got to lock into what are the three most important things that we need, in this run scheme and bringing in new run schemes. Some of the run schemes that we’ve been doing that are new to the program have been the most explosive plays that we’ve had. Those guys have really bought in and they’re fighting every day out there, like really getting after it. I’m really proud of those guys.”

Talent and experience are not the issue in the Iowa State offensive line room this season. The program returns multiple guys with significant experience at this level, including Jake Remsberg, Tyler Miller, Jarrod Hufford and Darrell Simmons.

Those four players alone account for 58 starts along Iowa State’s offensive front, but, under Clanton, everyone is facing the reality of a clean slate.

Previous positions don’t matter. Previous experience doesn’t matter.

All that matters is how you’re performing now, and how that will translate into helping the Cyclones put their five best out on the field when Northern Iowa rolls into town on Sept. 2.

“There’s some guys that are playing at a very high level that may have never played a down at football here before,” Clanton said. “Those guys are getting after it out there. The competition level is high. I’ve really tried to teach the offensive linemen, even in individual drills, how to play both sides of the football, multiple positions, to truly give Iowa State the opportunity to put the best five players on the field for the first game.”

“There’s so many little details. Are you right handed or left handed? Which way do you have a deficiency stepping first? There’s so many, and who do you work well next to? As an offensive line, you’ve got to work well with the people that are next to you. That communication and that understanding that you guys are both on that same wavelength, that goes a lot farther than what people think. We’ve moved a lot of guys. I’ve taught people how to play different positions, both sides. We don’t just do like individual drills that this is the position you’ve played for the last four years. It’s like, ‘Well, you gotta learn how to play another position or the other side, too, because we’re gonna put the best five players on the field for the first game.'”

More from Clanton

*** On Tyler Miller…

“He’s 25 pounds heavier, but he’s moving like a deer. He’s gigantic. He’s long. He’s explosive. He’s a great athlete. I’ve just gotten to work with him on some movement stuff, and individual drills. When you really watch him push, and get off the ball and pass set with his length, and some of the new techniques that I’ve been teaching those tackles, I think that he’s a force.”

*** On young guys who have stood out…

“I think Jim (Bonifas), he’s been amazing. Playing at a high level, he can bend, he can run. Deylin (Hasert) is extremely impressive. He’s been able to play multiple positions. As a young player, like truly get off the ball and be violent, and I’ve really enjoyed teaching him. (Oluwafunto Akinshilo) is an amazing athlete. He is gigantic. He can run and he’s quick for his size. It’s been really fun coaching him. James Neal is a dude. He’s athletic. Every day he picks up a new technique, and really starts to understand what he’s doing. He’s playing fast. I could name just about all of them. They’ve all been impressive, but those guys specifically I’ve been really impressed.”

*** On guys learning multiple positions…

“Since I’ve been a player, as a coach, and just kind of a school of thought I have, I believe that, truly, to benefit the team, you’re gonna have to mix and match people around and try to find the best fit for them long term. Sometimes, as an offensive lineman, if you get stuck on, one side of the of the line too long, you might have some bad habits that you can’t break. Just moving people around, and try to find the best fit for the team.”

“That creates competition. It also sparks interest and I know specifically for me as a player, when I was moved multiple positions, because I really had to play all five spots, it was like, every time I learned a new position, it was like I was restarting and I was learning. It really helped me understand football as a whole. I think that’s the most important part for offensive lineman, like if you can truly understand defense, and understand not just the play, why coach Scheelhaase is calling the play, why we’re asking you to block it this way, where the running backs aim point is, this past protection, where the quarterbacks can set up, the true purpose of play action pass, what play are you trying to action on the pass.”

“The little details that we kind of gloss over at times. I’ve tried to bring back the focus to that for those guys. I think playing multiple positions and different sides, like sparks a new interest in what they’re doing.”

Jared Stansbury

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Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.

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