Manning talks Kolar’s absence, upcoming challenges of Iowa’s defense

Iowa State offensive coordinator Tom Manning speaks with the media over Zoom on April 28.

James Powell

AMES- Iowa State was able to pick up a season-opening win against the Northern Iowa Panthers in Week 1, but not without some struggles on offense. One of the reasons for that was not having All-American Charlie Kolar lining up for the Cyclones.

Offensive Coordinator Tom Manning spoke with the media Wednesday and detailed how the offense missed Kolar and how his offense is preparing to face a tough early-season test in the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series game this coming Saturday.

The absence of Charlie Kolar 

Without a doubt, the senior tight end from Norman, Okla., has become a focal point for the Iowa State offensive attack and, in turn, a key for any opposing defense to lock in on as they prepare for their matchup against him.

Kolar has racked up 17 touchdowns in his Cyclone career, the most for any tight end in school history. His 1,425 career receiving yards is also the most in Cyclone history, and Manning certainly missed his abilities on the field against Northern Iowa.

“We’ve all been used to having Charlie be a big part of our offense… certainly looking forward to Charlie continuing to get healthy,” Manning said when asked about Kolar’s absence.

In his place, redshirt junior Jared Rus made his first career start at tight end and made just one catch for 19 yards. Chase Allen had zero catches but was targeted a few times. 

While Rus didn’t make as big an impact on the scoresheet, Manning admired what he brought to the table for his tight end group in Kolar’s absence.

“Jared played really well for us,” Manning said.

It is unclear as to whether or not Kolar will officially play in Saturday’s game against the Hawkeyes, but head coach Matt Campbell said Kolar did practice on Monday.

Hawkeye defense an early challenge for Iowa State

Iowa State only mustered 16 points against the Panther defense, with 9 of them coming on field goals. The only touchdown was a two-yard scamper by Breece Hall, and that was after a pass interference call in Iowa State’s favor that gave them first and goal at the Northern Iowa two-yard line.

Looking at the way Iowa’s defense played against a then-ranked 17th Indiana Hoosiers squad that saw record success last year, the Cyclones will have to work for every first down and every potential scoring drive. 

“It’s hard to get yardage and it’s hard to score against them,” Manning said about the Hawkeye defense.

Iowa was able to get two scores off of interceptions early in their game against Indiana that put the Hoosiers behind for good. In all, Indiana only gained 233 yards of offense and just six points.

Only 77 of the aforementioned 233 yards were on the ground, showing just how dominant the Hawkeyes were for the duration of the game. The Hoosiers averaged 2.5 yards per rush, which is not far off from Hall’s three yards per carry performance against Northern Iowa.

The Hawkeyes have talent across the board, but Manning knows it’s their experience and coaching staff that leads them to success on that side of the ball.

“Extremely well coached across the board at every position for a long time… they’re extremely disciplined,” Manning said.

Iowa State will have their hands full on the defensive end on Saturday, and they hope that the potential addition of Kolar will allow them to fully optimize their offensive weapons.