AMES — For the next 2 1/2 weeks, Iowa State football players have no distractions. There is only football.
No summer school, no jobs, no internships. Only football, just the way head coach Matt Campbell likes it.
“(Fall camp) is guys getting to know different guys and that bond and that culture of a football team going from (loose-knit) to (tight-knit) by the time this thing starts,” Campbell said. “Fortunately for us, we have really good leadership right now. We have a team that’s already (tight-knit), and I give those guys a lot of credit.”
Campbell needs some of those key guys in leadership roles to take the next step on the field for Iowa State to get where Campbell wants it to go.
Campbell still hasn’t named an official offensive coordinator. He hopes at some point, sixth-year senior quarterback Kyle Kempt will take on some of the play-calling duties.
“What’s great about (Kempt) is he’s taken even more of the reins of the offense,” Campbell said. “Everybody is worried about who is calling plays, eventually you’d like to get it where the quarterback is calling the majority of the plays. A guy like Kyle certainly gives you the ability to do that and gives you the ability to put yourself in the best situation possible. That’s one huge advantage of getting a guy like Kyle back.”
Kempt only threw two passes in his collegiate career prior to last season, but Campbell believes in Kempt’s ability to prepare and his attention to detail.
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“I think, even today, what you saw from Kyle is a confident football player,” Campbell said.
He credited the in-game experience Kyle had and the learning experiences that go along with those for Kempt’s confidence.
“What he did is he took those game reps and poured them into this summer and said, ‘How do I correct this? How do I continue to move myself forward?’ Even today, it was really fun to watch,” Campbell said. “You saw a really confident guy. A guy that’s confident in his decisions, a guy that’s confident in his strengths and knowledge as a football player.”
Another guy Campbell wants to see take a step forward is wide receiver Hakeem Butler. The 6-foot-6 Butler showed flashes of brilliance last season when he played mostly in the slot, catching 41 passes for 697 yards and seven touchdowns. But Campbell wants him to be a more consistent on the outside.
“I think good players can play anywhere,” Campbell said. “He’s big, he can really run and what my great challenge for Hakeem is just consistency. That’s our receiver position as a whole. We did some really positive things last season, but being consistent in the most critical moments — that’s the difference between being a good receiver group and an elite receiver group.
“To me, we have guys that have the ability to live in that elite wide receiver group. So taking it one day at a time and being consistent is a key.”
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