116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — An easy win doesn’t always produce an easygoing Matt Campbell.
Quite the contrary, actually.
Iowa State’s football coach watched his team dismantle Ohio, 43-10, last Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium, but a blocked extra point, red-zone fumble and an array of missed assignments gave him plenty of teaching material in advance of Saturday’s 11 a.m. Big 12 home season opener against 17th-ranked Baylor (2-1).
“Some young mistakes (against Ohio),” Campbell said. “We’ve got to be humble enough to grow from those things and if we can — and we match the attitude, effort and energy that this group brings at least so far in three football games — then maybe we have a chance to be a team that’s got a chance to be really special down the stretch.”
That starts against the Bears. And here are five green and gold-clad players to watch as the Cyclones (3-0) seek to start the season 4-0 for the first time since 2000.
RB Richard Reese
The true freshman from Bellville, Texas, has emerged as the most productive running back in a loaded, but banged-up backfield.
Reese averages 7 yards per carry and a team-leading 79 rushing yards per game. He’s scored five touchdowns — including a 52-yard jaunt in last week’s 42-7 win over Texas State. Three of his five rushing touchdowns came against the Bobcats.
Reese gained 156 yards on 29 carries in the runaway win and he’s one of four Baylor backs to have rushed for a least one touchdown this season.
QB Blake Shapen
The athletic 6-foot, 200-pound redshirt sophomore took the starting quarterback job away from Gerry Bohannon (who’s now starting at South Florida) late last season and earned Most Outstanding Player honors while helping the Bears win last season’s Big 12 title game.
Shapen completed 17 consecutive passes during that win over Oklahoma State and also threw a career-best three touchdown passes.
He’s picked up right where he left off this season, compiling a 4-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and completing 68 percent of his passes. Shapen has been mostly a game manager this season for Baylor, which relies on its talented stable of backs and dominant offensive line play to produce big plays while grinding down opposing defenses. Shapen also has rushed for 59 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
LB Matt Jones
A preseason All-Big 12 first team selection by Phil Steele, Jones emerged as a solid disrupter in both the running and passing games last season, striking for 6.5 sacks and 52 total tackles.
He — like Shapen — shined brightest in last season’s conference title game, collecting his first career interception, a forced fumble and a quarterback hurry in the championship-clinching triumph.
Jones has also grown since that noteworthy performance and leads the Bears with 18 tackles through three games. The 6-3, 223-pounder also has a team-best 1.5 sacks and 2.0 tackles for loss while recording one quarterback hurry.
RB Craig Williams
The often-injured, but lightning-fast fifth-year junior is nicknamed “Sqwirl” and it’s an apt moniker. He’s not tall (5-9) nor heavy (168 pounds), but his ability to squirt through holes and accelerate to top speed quickly makes him a big-play threat anytime he touches the ball.
He’s averaging a relatively modest 4.9 yards per carry this season, but sprinted for a 30-yard touchdown in last week’s win over Texas State and also caught his first two passes of the season.
LB Dillon Doyle
The hard-hitting fifth-year linebacker started his career at Iowa, but transferred to Baylor shortly after the Hawkeyes’ program parted ways with his father and longtime strength coach, Chris Doyle, two summers ago. He immediately found success with the Bears, earning his first of two honorable mention all-Big 12 plaudits.
Doyle’s ranked second on the team in total tackles the past two seasons and boasts a pass breakup and quarterback hurry this season.