Iowa State football readies for explosive Baylor offense
After first win, Cyclones know competition gets much tougher
AMES — The Iowa State and Baylor football teams have been in periods of transition throughout the summer and first few weeks of this season.
Circumstances surrounding those changes are two entirely different matters.
Iowa State hired Coach Matt Campbell last November to take over for a program that had won five games in its last three seasons. Baylor ousted its most successful coach in program history, Art Briles, after a number of his players became subjects of sexual assault investigations.
The No. 13 Bears (4-0, 1-0) visit the Cyclones (1-3, 0-1) at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday at 11 a.m. with interim coach Jim Grobe at the helm. Baylor is atop the Big 12 standings, is the third-highest scoring team in the league and hasn’t appeared to drop off through its coaching move.
“You look at Baylor, they’ve got really good football players. That hasn’t changed,” Campbell said at his Monday news conference. “They know how to win. That hasn’t changed. They expect to win. That hasn’t changed.
“I think even though there’s been some shake-up, the foundation of who they are and how they play the game of football still fits and still looks the same.”
Iowa State is coming off its best performance of the season in a 44-10 win against San Jose State. The Cyclones racked up more than 500 yards of offense and created four turnovers. But nobody in the Cyclones locker room is mistaking the Spartans offense for Baylor’s.
BU quarterback Seth Russell is back after suffering a season-ending neck injury last year against the Cyclones and has helped the Bears outscore their first four opponents, 168-54. He’s averaging 287 passing yards per game, has 13 touchdowns and a 60-percent completion rate with four interceptions.
Running backs Terence Williams, Shock Linwood and wide receiver K.D. Cannon give the Bears plenty of options offensively, but Iowa State’s defense knows it has to start with Russell.
“I feel like we’ll have a big impact if we disrupt him as far as his throwing ability and running because they also use him in the running game,” said cornerback Jomal Wiltz. “I know that’ll take away a big part of their game if we do that.”
Among Big 12 schools, Baylor is first in rushing offense (245.5 ypg), third in total offense (548.8 ypg), fourth in scoring offense (42 ppg) and fifth in passing offense (303.2 ypg).
When staring at those kinds of numbers, Campbell is making it a point to his team to be sound in situational football like third downs and in the red zone. Iowa State opponents have converted on 36.2 percent of their attempts and scored on 15 of 17 trips to the red zone.
“You’re never going to stop the yardage on a team like this,” Campbell said. “They’re a team that’s always going to gain yards; that’s the matter of fact. They do a great job spreading vertically and horizontally.
“You have to do a great job understanding and winning situational football, and it’s not just against Baylor. It’s the game today.”
— Iowa State indefinitely suspended offensive tackle Jaypee Philbert before its game at TCU, and Campbell said that status remains unchanged. Campbell added Philbert is not currently with the football team.
Since his arrival last November, Campbell has made expectations of player conduct known to the team.
“I think he’s kept his same demeanor ever since he got here,” said wide receiver Allen Lazard. “He laid down the laws and if you weren’t able to abide by them then he’s had his enforcements.”
— Sophomore defensive back De’Monte Ruth, who was suspended against San Jose State for violating team policies, practiced Sunday and will be available against Baylor.
— Iowa State’s matchup against Oklahoma State has been slated as a 2:30 p.m. kickoff in Stillwater, Okla., on Oct. 8. It will be televised on ABC, ESPN2 or ESPNU.
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