The Cyclones positional group that could make or break the season

Iowa State’s senior starting left tackle Julian Good-Jones is asked questions Aug. 1 at Iowa State’s media day.

Zane Douglas

With age comes experience and with experience comes productivity.

That’s going to be the mantra this year for Iowa State’s offensive line this season as they look to improve from a shaky season last year, with four of the listed starters being seniors.

“We always feel like we have the ability to go out there and dominate every game,” said starting left tackle Julian Good-Jones. “This past offseason our group has been extra devoted to getting extra work in.”

Good-Jones has been one of the staples of the line throughout his career with the Cyclones. The redshirt senior has been named Honorable Mention All-Big 12 the last two seasons, but he’s shifted around the line multiple times in his previous three seasons.

Through 37 games started, Good-Jones has started 12 at the center position, while the other 25 saw him shift to the blindside tackle position.

Good-Jones was recruited as a tackle and then was shifted inside for his first season in 2017 after redshirting a year, but Campbell saw fit to move him back outside.

He has shown remarkable consistency for someone moving around so often, but he will now line up on the outside for a second year in a row with the possibility to shine.

“I think by having seniors up front, I think it just sets the tone,” said starting right tackle Bryce Meeker.

Meeker is also a redshirt senior with a lot of experience under his belt.

Unlike Good-Jones, Meeker has stayed at his position on the outside, but where he differs is how many starts he has gotten.

Meeker started every game last season, but in 2017 he only played in 10 and only started seven. In 2016, he didn’t start at all and played primarily special teams.

He did earn an Honorable Mention All-Big 12 last season, which is nothing to hang your hat on.

It’s hard to tell whether Good-Jones and Meeker have evolved into good pass blockers, or if they are being bailed out by who’s under center.

“The relationships I’ve created with them off the field is huge,” said sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy. “I’m excited to roll with these guys this coming fall.”

Purdy was thrust into the fire last season when he was asked to take over for the struggling and injury-riddled quarterback position for the Cyclones and he was able to thrive.

Something that Purdy does that is lauded over by the coaching staff and Cyclone fans is his ability to use his legs to escape and create positives out of certain negatives.

Purdy bailed out the offensive line last season a few times, but it’s not fair to put all of that on the offensive line either.

While quarterback mobility is certainly a plus for an offensive line, it can also create problems.

When a play is run, offensive linemen have certain assignments. They don’t just necessarily block the same incoming rusher each time. So, when the quarterback is running outside the pocket, stepping up or tucking and running, then the offensive line has to adjust to that.

Purdy helps out his offensive line when he evades sacks and creates positive yardage under pressure, but he can also contribute to confusion during a given play.

“To earn their trust and respect and everything is awesome,” Purdy said.

The three starting interior linemen for the Cyclones have vastly different stories.

Senior right guard Josh Knipfel was just named a team captain and like Good-Jones and Meeker, he was an Honorable Mention All-Big 12 contributor.

Knipfel was a junior college transfer before the 2017 season and he became an immediate contributor for the Cyclone offense.

The lone starting offensive lineman that isn’t on his last year of eligibility is redshirt sophomore, Colin Newell.

Newell became the starting center after Good-Jones moved outside and he did alright for his first year on the job.

The remaining starter was tentatively named Monday when the Cyclones released their depth chart.

Redshirt senior Collin Olson won the starting job over redshirt freshman Trevor Downing.

Downing impressed in camp and the position battle seemed to be a toss-up, but as of now, the job belongs to Olson.

Olson moved from defensive line to offensive line before the season started in 2018 and ended up starting the majority of the games at left guard for Iowa State.

Downing was rated as a top 20 high school offensive guard recruit in the nation according to 247Sports before his time at Iowa State.

While there is seniority, plus a promising young freshman coming up, the offensive line still has a bunch of question marks, including lack of depth and no clear star.

“There’s a big priority around offensive line,” Good-Jones said. “It’s kind of just been a buying-in from everybody.”

For the Cyclones, they better hope he’s right.