AMES — Iowa State’s offensive line will be new in 2020 after four of the five linemen from last season graduated.
But will it be improved?
The offensive line has been a relative weakness for the Cyclones since coach Matt Campbell arrived. Iowa State has produced quality linemen like Jake Campos and Josh Knipfel, for example, but it hasn’t been able to put together a full unit.
“From my end, it’s about recruiting to a plan over a long period of time,” said Campbell, who has been at the helm since 2016. “I’ve said this and I don’t think there’s a quick fix to what we came into and the development of the offensive line. I’ve never believed that and I still don’t.
“What I do believe is there is a plan to develop the mentality and the right guys from an offensive line perspective.”
In theory, Campbell has his guys.
He’s called this group, “The most talented line we’ve had.” But they lack the experience needed that usually accompanies a good offensive line. Campbell also hasn’t named who the starting five will be.
The position is led by junior Colin Newell and sophomore Trevor Downing, both interior linemen. It’s up to those two and quarterback Brock Purdy to help bring the others along — whoever the others are.
“From summer until now, they have all collectively grown,” Purdy said. “Obviously Trevor Downing and Colin Newell have done a great job of helping out everyone else, whether they’re running with the ones or running with the twos.
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“For me, being back there in pass protection and everything, I love what I see so far. The bottom line is, they’re all willing to do what it takes this year to be the best offensive line they can be. I know that and they know that. I’ll go to war with them any day of the week because they have the drive in them. I’m ready to roll with them come Saturday.”
DE JaQuan Bailey back
Iowa State defensive end JaQuan Bailey hasn’t played football in about 11 months after suffering a leg injury last season as a senior.
The only positive aspect about the injury for Bailey is it occurred within the requisite four game limit for a player to redshirt.
Thanks to that relatively new rule, Iowa State gets Bailey, who is tied for the career sack record at Iowa State, back for a fifth year.
Early in fall camp, Campbell said Bailey looked rusty, but he’s now shaken that off and is ready for his second senior season.
“His process was to No. 1 get himself physically prepared to play football, then No. 2 get mentally prepared to play football again and No. 3 get himself ready to play football at a really high level,” Campbell said. “You go through those stages when you’re working your way back from an injury and I think JaQuan has handled each of those stages well.
“We obviously need a great week of preparation from him to be able to play well on Saturday because I think he’ll be challenged by a really good offensive line. He’s done a great job in his preparation and he’s been able to handle all the challenges that have come his way over the last 11 months.”
Injury report COVID-19 update
As of 5:20 p.m. Tuesday, Iowa State football doesn’t have anyone with COVID-19.
The Big 12 has mandated that football teams must test three times a week during the season — Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. The Cyclones still have to make it through the Wednesday and Friday tests but things are looking good for Iowa State to play its season-opening game against Louisiana at 11 a.m. Saturday.
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