ISU coach won’t make rash change
AMES – It’s business as usual for the Iowa State football team.
Maybe that’s not what Iowa State fans wanted to hear, but even after losses to in-state teams Northern Iowa and Iowa, head coach Matt Campbell doesn’t want to make drastic decisions or changes to the Cyclone starting lineup after just two games into the season.
Questions abound after ISU’s (0-2) 42-3 loss to then No. 16 Iowa (2-0) Saturday if the first-year head coach would make changes after starting the season off 0-2 with two defeats in two different frustrating fashions.
Campbell said Monday at his weekly media press conference Joel Lanning is still the Cyclone starting quarterback, though the evaluation of the quarterback position would continue this week in practice leading up to ISU’s Big 12 Conference opener at TCU (1-1) this Saturday.
After Lanning threw for just 86 yards and an interception on 8-of-20 passing against the Hawkeyes, he was replaced by Jacob Park late in the third quarter, albeit Iowa had its 39-point margin by the time Park entered the game. Park finished 6-of-15 for 79 yards.
“The quarterback position is really simple for us,” Campbell said. “No matter who the quarterback is, or who the quarterback is, it’s about (the) ability to provide great leadership. Knowing what we’re trying to get accomplished in the offensive scheme … It’s consistency of throwing the football, and I think it’s the ability to have great leadership out there and understanding.
“Obviously Joel’s situation the first two football games is he’d love to have some of that back. I know he would, but I know Joel Lanning. (He’s) a competitor. He’s really tough … Jacob is a guy who needs to continue to learn our system and know what the expectations are.”
Park initially spent the beginning of his college football career at Georgia before transferring to Iowa State via junior college. Campbell said early in the season he would like to get Park reps in games in case the Cyclones are ever put in a situation where he is the guy. Campbell stands by what he said at the beginning of fall camp, the best guy that will help the Cyclones be successful and win will play. Whether that be one, two or even three quarterbacks.
“I think if you look at my past, I’m never a one quarterback guy,” Campbell said. “I think I’m always what gives us the best chance to be successful. I wish I could sit here and look two years into it and have really a great feeling of what gives us the best opportunity to be successful. We’re two games in. I think we continue to learn and grow. What that has to force us to do as coaches is to evaluate and then do a great job of putting a product on the football field for us to be successful.”
Campbell also addressed Monday comments he made after the loss to Iowa Saturday regarding All-Big 12 running back Mike Warren, saying the sophomore had to be accountable when it came to practice and off the field, and Campbell added there is some competition in the backfield.
After rushing for 1,339 yards as a freshman in 2015, Warren turned out a disappointing performance for the second game in a row to start off 2016. After gaining just 30 yards on 12 rushes against UNI, Warren carried the ball just seven times against Iowa, but also only netted 28 yards. Campbell said Warren has been placed in a difficult situation where he’s expected to repeat what he did a year ago, but even with that, the expectations Campbell put on Warren was to handle the new, inexperienced offensive line, a new offensive coordinator and new offense.
“Mike’s no different than anybody else,” Campbell said. “I think it’s tough for Michael because Michael gets so much … thrusted into the spotlight. A lot of it comes with having success and what he did a year ago. I understand that. My challenge to Michael is my challenge to all of our players. We have to compete to get better.
“That’s all I meant, and I think that’s for all of us. It wasn’t a dig at Mike or anything like that. Mike just has to get better. As do all of us.”
After having been suspended the first two games of the season, Campbell said senior defensive back Nigel Tribune would be available to the Cyclones on Saturday against TCU, though Tribune didn’t appear on the depth chart released Monday by the football team.
“Nigel has done everything above and beyond what we’ve asked him to do,” Campbell said. “Some of the plateaus that we’ve put in place to get himself back to the status where he’s available to play.”
After suffering what looked like a nasty knee injury, wide receiver Hakeem Butler hasn’t returned to practice, but could be available against TCU.
“I think we dodged a huge bullet there,” Campbell said. “He did not practice (Sunday). We’ll see where he’s at mid-week to see if he’s potentially available for this game.”