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AMES —Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell evaluates his offense’s performance in a variety of ways, but looks closely at what he calls the 12 percent rule.
His hope is offensive penalties, turnovers and other negative-yardage plays all make up less than 12 percent of the total number of offensive plays. In its season-opening loss to Northern Iowa, Iowa State checked in at 32 percent.
“It’s really hard to have success,” Campbell said at his news conference Monday. “We have to continue to find ways to get ourselves under that 12 percent rule and give ourselves a chance to function offensively.
“You see our guys playing hard, trying to do the best things, and then the there are (penalties) that shouldn’t happen. There’s probably three or four that are just knucklehead penalties, whether that’s laziness in technique, whether that’s not getting aligned correctly. You can explain it in a million different ways.”
Breaking a culture of bad habits can’t be fixed in a game — or likely a few games — but Campbell wants to see the next step in what he has dubbed “the process.” How much growth and attention to detail will he see from week one to week two?
Top-25 ranked in-state foe Iowa will provide a pretty good barometer.
“I think everyone kind of has that attitude and the want-to to improve that I would like to see, that all of us want to see,” said center Brian Bobek, a sixth-year center who transferred from Minnesota. “I’ve been a part of teams that are turning programs around before and it’s definitely something that I’ve seen in the past and it reminds me a lot of that. I like that a lot.”
Iowa State’s offensive line was already reeling from the loss of junior offensive tackle Jake Campos, who broke his leg in fall camp, and dealt with the absence of redshirt freshman Julian Good-Jones.
Good-Jones was suspended for a violation of team rules that occurred in the spring and will return in Saturday’s game against the Hawkeyes, but there isn’t any easy fix to the line. It’s about time and experience.
“Once you get used to doing things a certain way it will come,” Bobek said. “I think that’s just something that, at this point, maybe not everybody is used to but it will come quickly once we get in the habit of it.”
Quaterback Joel Lanning delivered all three ISU touchdowns through the air, but also was the culprit for three of the four turnovers. His fumble gave the Panthers an easy touchdown opportunity in the red zone and his two late interceptions ended chances to preserve a win.
Lanning started the last five games a year ago and showed accuracy with his 256 yards and his 64 percent completion rate Saturday, but he knows there’s a lot more he has to do.
“You’ve just got to stay the course,” Lanning said. “You can’t let one game define your season. It’s a tough way to lose like that, especially in your home stadium. It’s just not a good way to go or start your season, but it’s time to move on and we’ve done that.”
Campbell said defensive backs D’Andre Payne and Thadd Daniels, who didn’t play against Northern Iowa, were held out for injuries but practiced Sunday and are expected to be available against Iowa. Defensive back Evrett Edwards, who was banged up in the game, also practiced Sunday while linebacker Willie Harvey’s status hasn’t been determined.
“We kind of gained some guys back that will be really nice,” Campbell said. “There will be a question mark, but I think Willie will be ready to go by Tuesday’s practice so we’ll kind of see as the week progresses where Willie’s at as we go into it.”
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