ISU football readies for season opener


Coaches Todd Sturdy and Mark Mangino talk with redshirt junior quarterback Sam Richardson at the first fall practice Aug. 4.

Beau Berkley

With the end of fall camp and the regular season now underway, the ISU football team has set its sights on its first non-conference game. 

And it won’t exactly be a “gimme.”

North Dakota State is the first team on Iowa State’s schedule and the Football Championship Subdivision powerhouse will look to continue its current winning streak against bigger programs. The Bison have defeated four straight Football Bowl Subdivision opponents since 2010, most notably defeating Kansas State in Manhattan to kick off the 2013 season.

However, the Bison have lost 24 seniors to graduation and coach Craig Bohl left for the head coaching gig at Wyoming, opening the door for Chris Klieman, who had served under Bohl as the defensive coordinator. 

“They cover the whole field, they play run support as well as anybody, they’re a good, well-coached unit,” said Mark Mangino, the Iowa State offensive coordinator. 

Mangino said that in the course of fall camp and now in preparation for North Dakota State, his offense has picked up on some of the nuances of his system that they didn’t grasp in the spring — even if it was just improving its general knowledge of the system and fundamentals. 

“I like the progress of our offense as a whole,” Mangino said. “There’s not a part of our team that isn’t lightyears ahead of where we were at the end of spring. We’ve made improvement in every area — there’s no question about that — but we understand we still have a lot of work to do.”

While Mangino will be polishing the offense this week before the season opener, Wally Burnham, Iowa State’s defensive coordinator, will be looking to shore up a few things in the defensive secondary.

Burnham said most of the mistakes made in the secondary during fall camp come from lack of experience and reps, like problems reading the offense and changing coverage prior to the snap as well as communicating down to the linebackers.

“Understanding and the knowledge and having enough reps to see back there and making the right checks in the coverage and letting the linebackers know that they’re changing coverage,” Burnham said of the mistakes.

And while nothing is final, Burnham said that Alton Meeks has the edge in the position battle at middle linebacker. Outside linebacker Jevohn Miller has the advantage against Luke Knott, but Burnham said that Knott had closed the gap a bit Aug. 22.

Burnham also said that Brandon Jensen and Devlyn Cousin would be occupying the tackle positions up front.

Iowa State plays North Dakota State at 11 a.m. Aug. 30 at Jack Trice Stadium.