Bruns helps pave way for ISU offensive success

Zac Reicks

To Washington Redskins faithfuls they were known as “The Hogs.”

Keith Jackson, longtime football announcer for ABC Sports, referred to them affectionately as “The Big Uglies.”

To any other sports fan, they are simply known as the offensive line.

For these five players, their center stage is down in the trenches, where all football games are won or lost.

If they control the line of scrimmage, victory is almost always assured. However, if they get dominated, you can almost always expect a loss.

While backs and receivers get all the glory for touchdowns and yardage, the linemen get the satisfaction of knowing their blocks helped to pave the way for everything that is accomplished during the game.

Senior Ben Bruns, the starting center for ISU’s football team, has been one of those people who have helped pave the way for the Big 12’s leading rusher in Ennis Haywood.

ISU’s offensive line, which was much maligned at the beginning of the season, has given a very good account for itself this season and has made a name for itself as one of the strong points of the 2000 campaign.

“Before the season started, everyone said that we would be the weakpoint of the team,” Bruns said.

“We took it personally, and I think we have done a good job up to this point of the year.”

Last weekend, the Cyclones were manhandled 56-10 by a Kansas State team that took control of the line of scrimmage. To both Cyclone players and coaches, it was an extremely difficult loss to take.

“One of our goals is to play hard every snap and let the results come as they may, and I don’t think we did that,” offensive line coach Steve Loney said. “Regardless of the outcome of the game that part was disappointing, and I think the kids were disappointed in our effort as well.”

Bruns and his teammates also took the loss very hard.

“The game was real tough for us. It just leaves a bad taste in your mouth, and overall, it was just a bad day,” Bruns said.

“When you get to this level, you can’t have a bad day. We just have to put it behind us and look forward to this week against Colorado,” he said.

The first step for the Cyclones to erase the memories of the Kansas State debacle was to get back on the field and prepare for an underrated Buffalo squad.

“We are a little frustrated in practice and have been taking it out on each other,” Bruns said followed with a smile. “We just have to get back to what we do best and that’s physical football.”

ISU’s reputation for being a physical team that runs the ball well can be credited to the Loney’s coaching.

“When we have been able to run the ball we have been able to do well,” Loney said. “To be able to run the ball, those kids up front have to play.”

“I think our scheme here is really good,” Bruns said. “Coach Loney teaches fundamentals very, very well. That’s something that really got drilled into me when I first came here.

“That, coupled with the fact that we have a commitment to running the football, leads us to playing our best type of football.”

“Firing off the line and knocking people off the ball, that’s Iowa State football,” he said.

Bruns, who was an accomplished high school wrestler, has given credit to his wrestling background for helping on the field.

“I think wrestling helped me more than it hurt me. At center you have to have good balance and wrestling provided that for me,” Bruns said.

“However, my first couple years I had to work on firing off the ball instead of just trying to handfight the guy, which is something you do more of in wrestling.”

With Colorado, Kansas and a potential bowl game left on the schedule, Bruns knows his playing time at Iowa State is coming to an end very soon.

For Iowa State to be successful in the future, the younger lineman who Bruns pushes around in practice will have to lead the way.

“The thing that I really want to impress on the young guys is how to work, how to do things right in practice and how to be a good person on and off the field. To me, it is important to have people respect you in all walks of life,” Bruns said.

“They just have to try and keep on with what we started. When it’s all over, we will look back on what we accomplished with a lot of pride and hopefully they can keep that feeling.”