AMES — No. 23 Iowa State (7-4, 6-3 Big 12) closes its regular season against non-scholarship FCS opponent Drake (7-3, 6-2 PFL) on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Jack Trice Stadium (Cyclones.TV).
Here are some random thoughts about Saturday’s matchup.
Drake will most likely be overmatched on Saturday, but the Bulldogs do boast a few players who could make an impact. Most of those are on the defensive side of the ball.
Defensive end Nathan Clayberg was named the Pioneer League defensive player of the year.
Clayberg was a force on the defensive line, recording 30 tackles, including 9.5 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks. He also broke up six passes and blocked two kicks.
Drake defensive back Will Warner also put up gaudy numbers. He has eight interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and four pass breakups.
This game seems like a free win for Iowa State, but the Cyclones do have some things to play for.
— Running back David Montgomery is 21 yards away from becoming Iowa State’s first back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher since Darren Davis in 1999.
— Receiver Hakeem Butler is 15 yards shy of setting Iowa State’s single-season receiving yards record. He’s also two touchdowns away from setting Iowa State’s single-season receiving touchdowns record. The interesting part is Butler isn’t even in the top 20 in single-season receptions, so he’s potentially setting records on fewer receptions.
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Butler averages 22.5 yards per reception, so the receiving yards record is all but broken if he gets one catch, but if he gets one touchdown Saturday, that puts him in good position to break the receiving touchdowns record in the bowl game if he doesn’t break it Saturday.
Besides individual records and achievements, Iowa State likely will get several freshmen and young players in the game for experience — even if Coach Matt Campbell doesn’t want to talk about it.
Campbell has said he loves the new redshirt rule that allows players to play in up four games without burning a redshirt.
Here are some players to look out for on Saturday and some players you might not see.
— Re-al Mitch, quarterback — Mitchell might be the most talked about player to never play. The quarterback enrolled early at Iowa State last January and since coming on campus has received nothing but rave reviews from the coaches. But Brock Purdy got the call instead of Mitchell and the staff never looked back. The week before Kansas, Campbell said you’ll see Mitchell sooner rather than later. Well, it’s the last game of the regular season. It can’t get much later.
Mitchell is a true dual-threat quarterback — dangerous with his legs as well as his arm. If Mitchell gets in on Saturday, it’ll be interesting to see what he can do.
— Trevor Downing, offensive line — Downing made his debut last week against Kansas State in a goal-line package. He led block for Montgomery in a play that resulted in a touchdown. Campbell has been in love with Downing since he stepped on campus.
“He’s going to be really talented,” Campbell said. “He’s a guy that’s got all the tools. He’s worked really hard and probably progressed as well as any of our young guys that maybe aren’t playing right now a ton. But I can’t say enough about Trevor and what his future looks like in our program. I think there’s some other guys really in that boat — the Re-al Mitchells and some of these guys that, you know, it’s just time.”
Since Downing has only played in one game, he’s a prime candidate to play Saturday.
— Chandler Pulvermacher, linebacker — Pulvermacher is an interesting case. He’s played in three games but hasn’t recorded a single stat. Campbell has the option to get him extended time against Drake to see what he can do or Campbell could save him for the bowl game if he believes Pulvermacher can impact that game.
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— Will McDonald, defensive end — Will McDonald played earlier in the season, forcing a key fumble against TCU. He’s recorded three tackles, one of which was a sack, in four games, which means he can’t play in another game unless Campbell burns his redshirt. Campbell said on Tuesday the staff has every intention of keeping McDonald’s redshirt on, so in all likelihood he won’t play against Drake or in the bowl game.
“There are guys that have really kind of saved us in some ways and been huge additions to our ability to manage our roster the right way, play our best players, and continue to develop and grow,” Campbell said. “So I certainly say a 12th game or a 12th opportunity, no matter what, how, or who — it gives you that opportunity to continue to find ways to best develop your roster.”
Iowa State 42, Drake 7
It all depends on how long Campbell leaves his starters on the field.
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