ISU football looks to take advantage of new beginning


Photo: Brian Achenbach/Iowa State Daily

Redshirt junior center Tom Farniok calls out blocking assignments to his line at the open practice at the Johnny Majors Practice Field on Aug. 5, 2013.

Beau Berkley

Tom Farniok is sick of hearing about it. Cory Morrisey is sick of hearing about it. Everyone on the ISU football team is sick of hearing about 2013. 

On Aug. 30, Iowa State will get its first crack at putting its less than spectacular 2013 campaign in the rear view mirror when three-time defending Football Championship Subdivision champion North Dakota State brings its four-win streak over Football Bowl Subdivision teams to Jack Trice Stadium. 

Heading into Aug. 30, Farniok said the mentality is different than last years team. This year, it is not so focused on finishing high in Big 12 rankings at the end of the year. Instead, the program is taking games one at a time and letting the rest fall into place. 

“I don’t think anyone’s focus is just a bowl game. I think that’s where everyone was wrong last year,” Farniok said. “We didn’t take it one game at a time, so that’s where we are now is everyone is taking it one game at a time.”

Morrisey, one of three senior captains along with Farniok and tight end E.J. Bibbs, can’t wait for the opportunity to get back on the field and get a fresh start. 

“We keep last year [as] last year,” Morrisey said. “This is a new year. We’re ready, we’re eager.”

And a win against North Dakota State is as good of a way as any to prove that the 2014 team is not the same one that was on the field in 2013.

The Bison averaged 257.3 rushing yards per game in 2013 and despite losing a handful of seniors and starters, they are not expected to miss a beat this season. Senior running back John Crocket returns to the Bison backfield and has his eyes set on capitalizing on his back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing efforts the past two seasons. Crockett has rushed for more than 100 yards in nine games in his career. 

“They play downhill, physical and we’ve got to match their physicality,” said defensive coordinator Wally Burnham of North Dakota State’s run first mentality. “They want to shorten the game for them and they’re most likely going to take the full 40 seconds to get the play off from the time it’s dead to the time it’s back in play.”

North Dakota State’s defense will serve as a formidable first task for the ISU offense as the Bison return 10 total starters from last season’s FCS-leading defense in scoring. 

“Well-coached and they have great effort guys,” said offensive coordinator Mark Mangino of North Dakota State’s defense. “They have talented guys, but all 11 guys on the field give great effort. As we say in football, they are gap sound, they play zone very well and they play man coverages very well.”