J.J. Bass: He’s the man. . . for now

Pat Brown

Jason Scales was announced as the starter for last Thursday’s game, but didn’t play a snap. Alexander Robinson played in the first series, but saw no time after that.

The reasoning behind that can be summed up with six letters – J.J. Bass.

Bass lived up to much of his preseason hype in Iowa State’s loss to Kent State, rushing for 133 yards on 22 carries, including a stellar 106-yard first half. He became the first Cyclone since 1989 to run for more than 100 yards in his inaugural game as a Cyclone, but even that wasn’t enough for coach Gene Chizik to give pass the absolute nod as the starter for the rest of the season.

“I would have liked to run the ball better than we did tonight,” Chizik said after last week’s 23-14 loss to Kent State. “I don’t think we’re anywhere near where we need to be. I thought J.J. did show some flashes of some good things.”

Bass was touted as one of the top junior college prospects in the nation, and he didn’t disappoint in his first appearance. It took him just 14 carries to eclipse the 100-yard mark in the game, including, as he displayed, sound agility, speed and strength.

His performance was good enough to earn him the starting spot for Saturday’s game against Northern Iowa, however, and has his work cut out for him. The Panthers, a football championship subdivision team (formerly Division I-AA), are 1-0 with a defense that allowed just 14 points and 37 rushing yards against Minnesota State-Mankato last week.

Although it’s a lesser division with 22 fewer scholarship than Division I-A programs, the FCS has already proven to be competitive against more storied programs, as just last week Appalachian State knocked off one of the most prominent programs in I-A history, the University of Michigan.

The Panthers are ranked No. 7 in the FCS coaches’ poll, and were the runner-up to Appalachian State two seasons ago, so it won’t be easy to keep the job. That’s been his mindset, though, from day one.

“I definitely want to be the guy,” Bass said.

“I feel I can help this team, but that’s in the coaching staff’s hands, and whatever they do, I’m happy with that.”