Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State tackle Bryce Meeker 'has earned the right to be confident'

Former Cedar Rapids Prairie prep made big strides between Baylor and TCU games

Iowa State Cyclones offensive linemen Bryce Meeker (74) and Josh Knipfel (66) battle TCU defensive tackle Corey Bethley (94) at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. (Reese Strickland/USA TODAY Sports)
Iowa State Cyclones offensive linemen Bryce Meeker (74) and Josh Knipfel (66) battle TCU defensive tackle Corey Bethley (94) at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. (Reese Strickland/USA TODAY Sports)

AMES — Iowa State right tackle Bryce Meeker had a miserable game against Baylor.

He allowed seven quarterback pressures and was called for multiple holding penalties, even though only one was accepted.

When he got back to Ames, he immediately put on the tape.

“It humbled me more than anything,” Meeker said. “After that game I knew I had to get back to work and get better at a lot of things. Hands, feet — a little of everything. I had to focus down to the details of everything.”

When asked how many times he re-watched the game, the former Cedar Rapids Prairie prep chuckled and said “a couple.”

He watched the film for two straight days.

The reason he stopped watching the game was because Iowa State had to get ready for TCU.

“I moved on from it when we started the install for TCU,” Meeker said. “All of Sunday and Monday, I watched the Baylor game and then going into the next week I knew I had to put it away and focus on the new team.”

But his relentless studying of his mistakes — maybe even self-punishment — seems to have turned his season around.

Against West Virginia, Meeker was named to the Pro Football Focus Big 12 Team of the Week. He allowed just a single pressure against the Mountaineers.

“I think what you’ve seen is you’ve seen a young man that’s started to build and earn the right to be confident out on the football field,” Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell said of Meeker. “Playing offensive tackle and playing the cornerback position are two very humbling spots. When things don’t go well, everybody in the stadium knows it.

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“For Bryce, one of my greatest points of pride of him is it didn’t go great in the Baylor game and yet, instead of that setting off an entire season of turmoil, he had that ability to come back to practice, get himself better, understand what he did well and what he didn’t do well and has really started to play really good football for us over the last couple of weeks.”

Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy also has noticed the improvements Meeker has made.

Purdy has had cleaner pockets and more time to dissect defenses. Since the Baylor game, Purdy has completed 71 percent of his passes for 854 yards and six touchdowns.

“Right after the Baylor game, he came in here ready to roll for practice, for film — for everything.” Purdy said. “He dialed in on the film and getting better at his fundamentals and technique. He knew what he had to get better, and he did. He took it personally, I felt like.

“He understood that he was going to have to make a change or the next guy was going to be up. And he did. He’s stepped up so far and he’s done a great job.”

Iowa State’s rushing attack has improved, as well. Part of that is due to the emergence of true freshman Breece Hall, but the other part can be attributed to Meeker.

In Iowa State’s last game against Texas Tech, Meeker had key blocks in both of Hall’s long touchdown runs, allowing Hall to spring good gains into a 30-plus-yard gains for a touchdowns.

“(Meeker) is senior in our program,” Campbell said. “A guy that doesn’t have much time left and he’s got the opportunity to put a great cap to his career.

“I’m really proud of his work ethic and his continued grind to try to be the best version of him he can be for us.”

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