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AMES — College football writer Phil Steele had Iowa State’s offensive line graded as the fourth best unit in the country in his preseason magazine.
On Saturday — in Iowa State’s 41-38 loss to Texas Tech — Breece Hall rushed for just 51 yards on 18 carries.
It’d be easy to pin his lack of success on the offensive line because Hall has established himself as one of the nation’s best running backs, but that’s not completely fair to the line.
“That’s two weeks in a row now where we got every defensive person in the box that could be in the box,” Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell said. “I chuckle a little bit when people come after the offensive line that don’t know football and don’t realize that there are nine guys standing in the box trying to suffocate the running game.”
That being said, Campbell does recognize the line wasn’t perfect, either.
“That doesn’t take away that we need to be better and we can be better because there were times that we were not at the standard that we wanted on Saturday,” Campbell said. “You do have to be able to block nine guys in the box at times, too. We’ve done that here and we’ve been able to do it well, but we weren’t as good as we needed to be at times on Saturday.”
But when the line’s not able to hold its own against eight or nine players in the box, Iowa State still needs to find a way to get the ball in Hall’s hands.
Hall had three catches for 25 yards and a touchdown on Saturday. This season, Hall is Iowa State’s fourth leading receiver with 246 yards and two touchdowns on 31 receptions.
“We can still feed Breece,” Campbell said. “What makes Breece special is he doesn’t just have to get the ball handed off to him. Breece can get the ball through the air, he can get the ball in some different situations. Our ability to adjust in that game was maybe one of the more positive things I came away with.”
Freshman Jaylin Noel stepping up
Campbell has been singing true freshman receiver Jaylin Noel’s praises since Noel stepped on campus.
In Noel’s first five games, he had five receptions for 27 yards. In his last five, he has 19 catches for 155 yards.
He had his best game against Texas Tech, catching five balls for 65 yards.
“You look at Jaylin Noel and the growth that, that freshman has made from Week 1 to who that guy is now, he’s stepping on the field and making big plays in big moments for us, it’s incredible,” Campbell said.
After the Texas Tech game, Noel is Iowa State’s sixth leading receiver behind the likes of Xavier Hutchinson, Charlie Kolar, Tarique Milton, Hall and Chase Allen.
Iowa State injury report
Defensive end Will McDonald missed time in Saturday's game due to injury. He returned and finished the game, but he’s not at 100 percent.
“(McDonald) was dealing with a strain early in the game,” Campbell said. “To his credit, he was able to come back in, in the second half and he did a great job. I do think he’ll be fine, he was on the practice field yesterday.”