Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State football needs offensive line to improve

Cyclones rush for just 47 yards in loss at Iowa

Iowa Hawkeyes defensive end A.J. Epenesa (94) celebrates after forcing a fumble during the fourth quarter of their CyHawk series college football game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sep. 8, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes defensive end A.J. Epenesa (94) celebrates after forcing a fumble during the fourth quarter of their CyHawk series college football game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sep. 8, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — College football games are still won and lost in the trenches.

In a day and age where quarterbacks, receivers and running backs get all the attention, it’s the men on the line of scrimmage that determine the outcome. Offensively, they open holes and protect the quarterback. Defensively, they disrupt and wreak havoc.

Saturday at Kinnick Stadium, Iowa’s defensive line manhandled Iowa State’s offensive line in a 13-3 Hawkeyes win.

“Obviously I’d love to sit here and make great excuses, but I’ll tip my hat to our opponent,” Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell said. “Their defensive line dominated and we didn’t have the ability to respond. It’s hard when, offensively, we couldn’t sustain any consistency, especially up front. It exposed us in some of the most critical times.”

Iowa State running backs only rushed for 47 yards and Iowa State only passed for 169 yards, while surrendering four sacks.

Campbell switched things up from his depth chart, moving Julian Good-Jones from left tackle to center, where he played last season, and inserting Sean Foster, who played last season, at left tackle.

In a hostile environment like Kinnick, Campbell thought keeping the offensive line consistent to last season was the right way to go.

“I just felt like experience was the right thing,” Campbell said. “Is that the right thing going forward? We’ll watch the film and make the right decision for this football team going forward. Colin Newell is a guy that didn’t play much today, but certainly is a guy we have great belief in and is very capable of going in and helping this football team.

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“I think there is still a lot of competition. It’s going to take a couple of weeks until that line shakes out to what it really is and what we want it to be going forward.”

What does the line need to do to improve as the season moves on? Iowa State does have a date with No. 5 Oklahoma next week at home.

“It’s the first game and we went against a very senior-led, excellent defensive front,” Campbell said. “They need to get out and get that experience and play. A lot of guys playing different positions and guys who were being counted on for the first time. That group needs to go and get reps, I wish you could just rub your hands together, but they need experience and go play.”

The Cyclones defensive line, on the other hand, was Iowa State’s strength.

They held the Hawkeyes to 103 yards rushing and provided enough pressure to make quarterback Nate Stanely make decisions faster than he wanted to.

Unfortunately for Iowa State, the defense was on the field so much because of the offense’s inability to move the ball and they wore down.

Iowa running back Mekhi Sargent scored the lone touchdown of the game with 4:47 left in the fourth quarter.

“That’s where you see the veteraness of this football team,” Campbell said. “We’re going to need to lean on them until the other side of the football can catch up. I thought they were outstanding. I thought coach (Jon) Heacock did an incredible job. Give credit to coach and obviously those kids because they were outstanding. They kept us in the game and gave us every chance to win.”

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