116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / Sports / Iowa State Cyclones / Iowa State Football
Jaylin Noel could be an X-factor for Iowa State football against No. 22 Texas
Receiver searching for first career TD as Cyclones search for offense and first Big 12 win of the season
AMES — Jaylin Noel’s already set a single-game career-high in receiving yards with 130. He’s squarely slotted as Iowa State’s second-leading receiver, totaling 284 yards on 29 receptions.
But there’s one thing the talented sophomore has never done: Score a touchdown.
Changing that — for Noel and the Cyclones’ flagging offense — will be vital if ISU (3-3, 0-3 Big 12) hopes to challenge No. 22 Texas (4-2, 2-1) Saturday at 11 a.m. at Darrell K Royal Stadium in Austin.
“We know we can drive the ball,” Noel said. “It’s just all about finishing. Kind of trying to get past that little issue right there shouldn’t be that hard as long as we lock into what we need to do and we’ll get rolling.”
Fair enough, but the Cyclones have run 110 offensive plays since scoring their most recent touchdown, a 9-yard connection between quarterback Hunter Dekkers and tight end Easton Dean in the second quarter of a 14-11 loss at No. 19 Kansas two weeks ago.
And every manner of miscues has been sandwiched within that frustrating span of futility, whether it be pre-snap penalties, turnovers, missed throws, dropped passes or six sometimes-successful field goal attempts. In short, nothing’s going right on that side of the ball for ISU — and finding ways to connect more with players such as Noel may be the key to finding the way back.
“He does everything well,” Cyclones offensive coordinator Tom Manning said. “He practices well, he prepares well and he plays really well. I think that’s just a testament to who he is. He’s a fine young man who has tremendous character.
“He’s a really hard worker and he’s also really talented. He’s gotten better and better. You feel like each year, but week to week you feel a little bit more, a little bit more and I think his work is paying off for him in the right way.”
Not in terms of touchdowns. And not in terms of wins, lately.
But Noel’s ability to turn quick slants and other short passes into first-down plays makes him the perfect complement to the league’s leading receiver, Xavier Hutchinson. Blend in Colorado transfer Dimitri Stanley’s ability to stretch the field and Dekkers should be able to occasionally find an open receiver as long as ISU’s offensive line can fend off the Longhorns’ aggressive pass rush.
“I’ve always liked being the underdog,” said Cyclone offensive tackle Jake Remsburg, who is finally fully healthy after suffering a lower leg injury late in fall camp. “That’s where the best stories come (from), being the underdog. So it’s always fun to me. Love going into a tough environment like that. Just going to work.”
Texas was a Las Vegas-consensus 16-point favorite as of Thursday afternoon and is coming off its first shutout win against a Big 12 foe in 11 years — a 49-0 shellacking of archrival Oklahoma. ISU owns an unprecedented three-game win streak in the series, so the Longhorns can attach extra motivation to that Red River Shootout-based momentum as they seek to prove they’re finally “back.”
“(They’ve) certainly done a really good job of putting the nucleus of this football team together,” said Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell, whose team beat Texas, 30-7, last season in Ames. “They’ve done a really good job of aligning to certainly what they want to be and where they want to go.”
That’s obviously up, both in terms of the conference standings and the Longhorns’ reinvigorated national profile. ISU needs to find some offense — maybe even a touchdown for Noel — in order to prevent that rise while simultaneously attempting to climb back from its first 0-3 start in league play since 2016.
“It’s tough going 0-3, but there’s a positive mindset,” Noel said. “We feel like we have a team that can go on a run and do good things, so there’s never any negative energy in the locker room. Just a mindset to keep growing, keep building and get better each day.”