AMES — Iowa State sophomore quarterback Zeb Noland stepped into Kyle Kempt’s starting spot against No. 5 Oklahoma on Saturday and slung the ball around the field, completing 50-yard strikes as well as check-downs to the flat.
Noland completed 25 of his 36 pass attempts for 360 yards and two touchdowns in a 37-27 loss. The 360 yards were a career high. He completed two touchdown passes to the 6-foot-6 Hakeem Butler that went for more than 50 yards — Butler averaged 35 yards per reception with Noland throwing him the ball.
“It’s a great feeling,” Noland said when he sees Butler lined up one-on-one against a defensive back. “Every quarterback has their guy. Your eyes light up and you just have to stay calm in those situations so you can make the right throw because you don’t want to overthrow them or underthrow them. You just have to give him a chance to catch the ball.”
Butler was obviously happy with the way Noland played. Butler caught five passes for 174 yards.
“Zeb played great,” Butler said. “He came in locked in and he knew what to do.”
Noland completed passes to eight receivers. Junior Deshaunte Jones led the team in receptions with nine catches for 66 yards.
“I couldn’t ask for a better receiving corps,” Noland said. “They all did a great job today. Up front, I couldn’t be more thankful for the protection I got — one sack and maybe three hurries. I couldn’t have asked for a better job out of those guys after last week and the disappointment. They gave me a chance to give our playmakers opportunities.”
Coach Matt Campbell was more than pleased with the way Noland stepped in. Noland did throw one interception, but it was at the end of the game and Noland was being pressured.
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“He had a great game,” Campbell said. “He played really well, I thought made great decisions — even at the end, that’s not his fault. He was pressured and he tried to make a play. I’m really proud of him and he’s done what we’ve seen Zeb do, quite honestly. Every opportunity he’s gotten, he’s taken advantage of it, so that’s great for Zeb.”
Last season when Noland got playing time, he could be accused of trying to go too big. But an offseason learning from the calm and steady Kempt had Noland making the right read and right pass more consistently.
“Zeb didn’t surprise me by the way he played,” running back David Montgomery said. “Zeb’s very poised. He did his job, which is being the general. He didn’t try to do too much, he didn’t try to do too little. Getting that out of him was definitely a success for our offense.
“Kyle’s like Zeb’s big brother. They learn from each other and both of those minds together are crazy. Zeb was ready for the challenge and he’ll keep being ready for the challenge each week.”
Campbell already announced that Noland will get the start this week against Akron with Kempt still out with the knee injury he suffered against Iowa. Campbell said it’s not out of the question that Kempt could miss the week after that as well, so Noland will have ample opportunities to showcase his abilities.
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