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AMES — Iowa State football had a relatively normal bye week, which isn’t always the norm.
Last year, which wasn’t normal under any circumstances to begin with, Iowa State was just focused on getting and staying healthy during bye weeks.
In 2017, the Cyclones revamped their whole defense during an off week.
“This year, more so for us, it was how do we stay on track?” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “How do we continue to improve and practice really hard? If we were able to do that, we’ll be able to stay on the trajectory that we feel like we’re going.
“It wasn’t like we redid our schemes or anything like that. It was about getting better in terms of what we do and we do what we do. I felt like our kids had a great week of practice last week.”
Campbell said he even had time to watch his kids play soccer on Saturday.
He tried to keep the bye-week practice schedule as normal as possible to keep his players in their routines.
“I think we flipped Friday and Saturday,” Campbell said. “We didn’t practice on Saturday, we practiced on Friday. Other than that, everything was very similar. We had a really physical practice on Friday where we tried to get the players some of the same exposures they would get in a game day Saturday.”
Young players pushing for playing time
Iowa State’s young players have gotten several opportunities this season to prove what they can do.
True freshmen like safety Beau Freyler, running back Eli Sanders and receiver Jaylin Noel have carved out important roles. Campbell said even more young players are pushing for time.
“I’ve always believed that when you have competition daily and you have to walk onto the football field and compete for playing time and reps, then that heightens everybody’s sense of urgency,” he said. “That’s where sometimes having a little bit of a veteran team, you can maybe not have that. But man, when those young guys don’t care about how the veterans are and they’re coming in trying to compete and play, then I think what you have is it raises everybody’s level.
“That’s a huge positive for us right now and we’ve had it since fall camp.”
Against Kansas and UNLV, almost everyone on the team got to play. And some of those players, like true freshman running back Deon Silas, have shown they are ready to play at this level.
“What’s happening now is these young guys are proving in game situations that ... they can help our football team,” Campbell said. “It continues to challenge us as a coaching staff because those guys are proving they can play. Who are the guys that deserve to be on the field in these critical moments and critical times? If you’re doing it the right way as a coach, you’re in constant evaluation of who those guys are and you love to see young guys get on the field and we have a lot of guys doing that right now.”
Iowa State injury report
Defensive lineman J.R. Singleton has missed the last several games with a leg injury.
Enyi Uwazurike has moved over from his defensive end spot into the nose guard position and Zach Petersen has filled in at Uwazurike’s defensive end spot.
Nose guard Isaiah Lee also has seen more time when Uwazurike moves back to defensive end or when Petersen or Will McDonald need a breather.