Iowa State showcases its younger players on offense during Saturday’s blustery spring game

Iowa State Cyclones football fead coach Matt Campbell talks to the team after the spring football game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, April 20, 2024, in Ames, Iowa. © Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune / USA TODAY NETWORK

AMES — The wind howled and the temperature gauge struggled to lumber upwards of 40 degrees.

 Iowa State’s No. 1 quarterback, Rocco Becht, stood on the sideline, literally chilling while watching his backups take snaps during Saturday’s blustery spring game at Jack Trice Stadium.

 “I tried to convince (head) coach (Matt) Campbell to put me out there, but it wouldn’t happen,” said Becht, who participated in pre-spring game drills while otherwise resting — and shivering — along with several other skill position staters. “Last Saturday we had a really big spring practice, so that was probably my spring game.”

 Campbell said earlier this week that the Cyclones ran about 125 plays in Becht’s “spring game” — and he put up big numbers that day.

 But how big?

 “I couldn’t tell you,” said Becht, the Big 12’s reigning offensive freshman of the year. “I don’t remember. They were good.”

 So should fans have taken away anything from Saturday’s official spring game from an offensive standpoint?

 “No,” Campbell said before amending that one-word assessment. “Dylan Lee, talented, I think he had a really great spring. A lot of our offensive guys were out for various reasons and we wanted to see some of these young guys. Who could step up and perform and who could play? But, yeah, the offense will be in really good shape by the time we get to the fall.”

 Lee — a 6-1, 200-pound true freshman tailback — could be a key part of that equation alongside returning backs Abu Sama and Carson Hansen, as well as transfer Jaylon Jackson, who wore a walking boot on Saturday. Lee jetted 17 yards for the lone touchdown of the spring game and finished with 80 rushing yards on 17 carries.

 “In the early part of spring ball, he (ran) the ball like there’s nobody out there, so he had to get used to slowing his head down, slowing his mind down, hitting the holes, cutting,” Becht said. “He was able to do that today and I liked what I saw out of him and I know the whole offense liked what they saw out of him today, so we’re gonna need him in the fall.”

 ISU fans likely enjoyed redshirt freshman placekicker Kyle Konrardy’s performance, too. The former Dubuque Senior standout drilled four of his five field goal attempts into the wind, including three 40-plus yarders.

 But what’s his true range?

 “On a great day I’m saying 60,” Konrardy said. “At least 60. In these conditions, we’re still striving for success, so I’m doing 55 maybe. Have some rough ones here and there, but keep pushing through.”

 The defense totaled five sacks, with linebacker Rylan Barnes and D-linemen Zaimir Hawk, Trent Jones, Dom Orange and Kenard Snyder recording one apiece.

 “I thought Kenard Snyder’s a guy that showed up today that transferred in (from Lousiana-Monroe) that’s really had a great spring,” Campbell said. “(He) has flashed.”

 Backup quarterbacks J.J. Kohl, Connor Moberly, Major Cantrell and Tanner Hughes combined to go 15-for-20 through the air for 103 yards while the Cyclones’ top two returning receivers, Jaylin Noel and Jayden Higgins, sat out. As for Becht, he’d already done enough this spring to prove he’s ready to improve upon his impressive freshman season, which is why he joined Noel, Higgins, Sama and Hansen on the sidelines.

 “Rocco is one of those guys who has never settled for just being a good player,” Campbell said. “He wants to be great. And he’s really took great leadership. It’s interesting because he’s the leader of the ship and when that guy’s on, everything is smooth, and when that guy’s not, you kind of see some young guys still trying to gain that confidence. But Rocco has that and Rocco’s a guy that’s demand to get better from that last (Liberty Bowl) game at Memphis literally through every step of the way in the winter and spring, so we’re really excited about Rocco.”

 So are ISU’s fans, even though they only saw him throw passes in the pre-spring game practice session on Saturday.

 “I feel like this was the best spring I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Becht said.