Iowa State’s offensive line sees improvement under new coach Ryan Clanton


Tyler Coe

Jake Remsburg is hyped up after a Cyclone touchdown against Texas Tech on Nov. 19, 2022

Christian Royston, Sports Editor

As Iowa State football’s spring practice season rolls on, the team is starting to look much different than the team of the past.

The Cyclones saw consistent struggles in the 2022 season, resulting in a 4-8 record to end the year. Now with the coaching staff seeing fresh faces, the Cyclones are starting to trend in the right direction.

A big reason the Cyclones struggled last season was the lack of run game and pass protection. Both issues fell on the offensive line and more specifically, the offensive line coach.

After the 2022 season, the Cyclones parted ways with Jeff Myers and hired Ryan Clanton to take over as the offensive line coach. Clanton spent five years at UNI, where he built up an impressive offensive line group. Clanton has seen two of his players reach the NFL in the last two drafts, with Trevor Penning being picked up in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft and Spencer Brown being drafted in the third round in 2021.

Now Clanton is at Iowa State, and already the team has seen major changes

“I mean, you see big differences all up and down the board,” Jake Remsburg said. “You name anyone; we’re making big strides.”

Spring practices have been a grind, and the progress is starting to show. The biggest thing that Clanton wanted to do early on is get some quality work in for the offensive linemen.

“They’ve been very physical,” Clanton said about the practices.

With Clanton at the helm, many offensive line players are experiencing a new style of coaching with a coach who knows what it takes to get to the next level. There are things that Clanton sees that may be small but are huge game changers down the line.

“He’s really good at picking up [on] little things that you may not think are a big deal, but it can change your whole trajectory as a player,” Remsburg said.

Although Clanton may be keen to finding small intricacies in every player, it’s no extra effort for him. That’s just the way he coaches.

Clanton understands the fundamentals of the game and tries everything he can to get his players to do the same.

“I think it’s all about how you teach it,” Clanton said. “If you make it too complicated, then everyone’s gonna trip over each other, and it’s gonna be a complete failure.”

For Clanton, the first step in the teaching process is getting his players to truly understand the sport of football. As spring practices continue, he’s confident that the offensive line is understanding more every single day.

“They’re starting to truly understand football as a whole,” Clanton said.

Once the offensive line understands football, they can start to actually play. Knowing everything there is to know about the opposing defense and their offense will help them play faster and with more explosiveness. It has also built up everyone’s confidence.

One interesting thing that Clanton has done early in the spring, which may differ from many coaches, is he wiped the slate clean. He’s not just testing players out in a few positions, he’s trying players out all over the line.

Linemen are playing every spot and every position and even lining up on the defensive line to learn more about defense. Clanton wants to make sure the five players on the field at the start of the season are the best five players and the five players that work the best together.

“That communication and that understanding that you guys are both on the same wavelength, that goes a lot farther than what people think,” Clanton said.

With the players moving to every single spot on the line, there’s no telling where players will end up. Anyone could walk out in the first game and line up as center. 

When asked about the possibility of any player playing every position, Clanton was confident that he could build up any player to fit anywhere on the line.

“Yeah, anybody can,” Clanton said. “I’ll teach you how to play center.”

One player that caught Clanton’s eye in spring practices is Tyler Miller. There’s a good chance Miller starts in the 2023 season, as he started 10 games at left tackle in 2022.

The biggest growth that Miller saw over the offseason wasn’t his technique; it was his size. He put on 25 pounds of mass, making him more powerful and explosive than ever.

“He’s 25 pounds heavier, but he’s moving like a deer,” Clanton said. “You know, he’s gigantic. He’s long. He’s explosive. He’s a great athlete.”

The offensive line has seen many changes so far as a whole. As spring nears its end, Clanton’s work will be on display. Although it may be early for him to predict a starting lineup, a big leap is expected from last season.