All eyes on Dekkers for season opener against SEMO


Collin Maguire

Iowa State quarterback Hunter Dekkers scores a touchdown against Kansas on Oct. 2.

Iowa State football has arrived once again as the Cyclones will kick off the 2022 season against Southeast Missouri State (SEMO) at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday.

One of the biggest things that will be on display for the Cyclones is the new-look backfield. It has been the talk around the team for months now, and while many fans may be sick of hearing about it, the anticipation may be fair.

Hunter Dekkers will be taking on the lead role at quarterback, while Jirehl Brock will be sliding in, in place of NFL draftee Breece Hall.

The Iowa State coaching staff has a lot of confidence in Dekkers coming into the season, and in the handful of appearances that Dekkers has made, he has played fairly well overall.

Head coach Matt Campbell mentioned that Dekkers is the type of quarterback who just goes out there and makes those around him better.

Offensive coordinator Tom Manning said that the SEMO defense changes up its coverage schemes frequently, and the defense plays with a lot of energy.

The Cyclones have come out of the gate slow offensively over the last few years, with games such as a 16-point performance against the University of Northern Iowa in 2021 and a 14-point performance against Louisiana in 2020.

Among the top reasons to watch this game will be to see whether the Cyclones will come out with a simplistic playbook to help ease Dekkers in or allow him to build confidence by airing it out early.
SEMO finished the 2021 season with a 4-7 record, and in the one game against a power five opponent, the Redhawks lost to Missouri by a score of 59-28.

Geno Hess has been a dominant player for the Redhawks in his career, especially in 2021, where he ran for 1,116 yards and 14 touchdowns.

“He’s a hard tackle,” defensive coordinator Jon Heacock said. “You’re gonna have to get one, or two, or three or four guys to tackle him. Runs the football, has broken 60-yarders.”

SEMO runs an option system, with the team averaging less than 20 pass attempts per game in 2021.

Heacock said the style of play from SEMO fits its personnel very well, as the team capitalizes on its athleticism, and takes shots downfield to keep the defense off-balance.

Heacock said that the excitement levels are going to be high for his defense, but that the game is meant to be played with high levels of excitement.

“I think you love the emotion, that’s what the game is,” Heacock said. “We have newcomers, a lot of them, the majority of our team, specifically defense, and so we’ll have to handle that.”

The game is set to kick off at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Ames, Iowa, and will be streamed on ESPN+.