Iowa State Cyclones

David Montgomery's status uncertain after injury in TCU game

Iowa State has a number of options at running back

Iowa State Cyclones running back David Montgomery scores a touchdown against TCU on Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. (Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports)
Iowa State Cyclones running back David Montgomery scores a touchdown against TCU on Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. (Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports)

FORT WORTH, Texas — Will it be 2015 forgotten freshman phenom Mike Warren? Kickoff-return threat Kene Nwangwu? Sheldon Croney, No. 2 in carries this season? Or Johnnie Lang, second in rushing yardage?

Those are the questions Iowa State fans are asking, in case junior starting running back David Montgomery is not able to play this week at No. 21 Oklahoma State.

Montgomery became the 15th player in ISU history with 2,000-plus career rushing yards (2,043) while gaining 101 yards in 21 carries Saturday night at TCU. However, he left in the fourth quarter with an apparent arm injury.

There was no update on Montgomery’s condition Sunday. A call to the Iowa State sports information office was not returned.

“We’re just going to have to play it day by day,” ISU Coach Matt Campbell said. “If he can play, he’ll play. If he can’t, we have some other guys there that we’re confident in.

“There’s a lot of guys that are waiting on their opportunity.”

Warren — the Cyclones’ 14th 2,000-yard rusher (2,003) — gained 1,339 of those as a freshman but hasn’t touched the ball yet this season. Sophomore Nwangwu currently holds the ISU career record at 35.5 yards per kickoff return. Junior Croney has just 21 yards in 10 carries this season, and redshirt freshman Lang has 24 yards on eight carries and caught a pass for 10 yards at TCU.

Is there a clear-cut No. 2 running back?

“We’ve been trying to find that a little bit since the early part of the season. If we don’t, it’ll certainly be a competition through the week of practice,” Campbell said. “But it’s a good thing. I don’t think it’s a negative.”

Wide receiver Hakeem Butler didn’t seem concerned.

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“From Johnny to Sheldon to Nate or Mike Warren, everybody’s proven themselves to me. I know what they can do,” Butler said. “And David, I’m not really worried. He’s a dog. He can come back.”

Campbell said he hoped the young offensive line — three juniors, a sophomore and a freshman — can help the running attack.

“The productivity of that line is really growing,” he said. “That has to be the final product of this football program, is the line continuing to grow. I’m excited about it.”

This is a critical juncture for the already offensively-challenged Cyclones.

Their 17-14 loss at TCU Saturday night marked the 10th time in 12 games that an opponent scored 20 or fewer points. ISU is just 6-6 in those games, mostly because the offense has failed to reach 20 points in five of them.

“It’s tough to lose like that,” quarterback Zeb Noland said. “I obviously could have been better. We’ve got a long way to go.

“We’ve got to go to work for Okie State. We’ve just got to bounce back and let it go.”

Campbell noted a silver lining. The Cyclones converted just 34 percent of their third-down opportunities in the first three games but improved to 42 percent (5 for 12) Saturday.

“It was a hard first half to find a flow offensively. We didn’t have the ball very much,” he said.

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Even with a lengthy fourth-quarter touchdown drive, Iowa State had the ball for a season-low 24 minutes, 22 seconds. The Cyclones have trailed in time of possession in all three losses.

“I don’t sit here disheartened,” Campbell said. “We’ll be defined by the end of the season, not four games in.”

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