ORLANDO, Fla. — In Iowa State’s last game of the regular season, a loss to Kansas State, tight end Dylan Soehner went down with an injury.
Soehner will miss Saturday’s Camping World Bowl against No. 15 Notre Dame, an injury to the third tight end that normally wouldn’t be too big of a deal.
But late in the season, Iowa State was using a lot of power-spread formations with two and three tight ends. The Cyclones were having success running and passing out of those formations.
Now, down a tight end, Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen will have to pick up the slack.
“There are reps there that we have to take up that we didn’t before,” Kolar, an All-American, said. “That’s something we’ve prepared for and we feel ready to go. We miss Dylan because he’s a great player and also a great teammate. We’ll be ready, we just have to prepare for extra reps.”
Each of the tight ends had different roles. Kolar was the prolific pass catcher — he has 48 receptions for 675 yards and seven touchdowns. Allen, a two-time all-Big 12 selection, was the do-everything tight end — he has 17 catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns and he’s also and excellent blocker in pass protection and the run. Soehner was the massive tight end who had no problem being physical. He used his 6-foot-7, 270-pound frame to move opposing players with ease in the running game.
Now with Soehner out, Kolar and Allen have to adapt and adopt some of Soehner’s duties.
“We’re really missing Dylan and I wish that he was here for us,” Allen said. “It sucks seeing him in the boot and on the scooter all week. That three tight end personnel that we get in, we’ve been really successful with that, but now Charlie and I have had to figure out where we fit best with Dylan off the field and I think we’ve done a really good job of that over the past couple of weeks and I think it’ll work out well on Saturday.”
It’s critical Kolar, Allen and the coaching staff figure it out because the tight ends figure to be an important aspect in attacking Notre Dame’s defense.
The Fighting Irish have recorded an eye-popping 30 sacks this season and 85 tackles for loss.
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“They’re a solid defense at all three levels,” Kolar said. “Their defensive backs do a great job and they allow their defensive line to have a pass rush. It also helps that their d-line is a good d-line and they do a good job of mixing in blitzes. They have a good combination of scheme and players. They’re a really good defense and we’re excited to go compete against them.”
Tight ends have the ability to neutralize a pass rush by receiving or staying in and blocking.
“We have to win in man coverage and get open early to give (quarterback) Brock (Purdy) options out there to make quick decisions,” Allen said. “Then we have to be able to protect. Sometimes we won’t be running routes and we just have to stay in and help protect and let someone else make the play.”