NOTEBOOK: Matt Campbell on TCU win, linebackers, key injuries, growth

Fans storm the field following Iowa State’s 14-7 win over No. 4 TCU. 

Brian Mozey

This past weekend, Iowa State won its second game against an AP top-five ranked opponent as the Cyclones defeated the TCU Horned Frogs with a 14-7 final.

The win improved Iowa State’s record to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the Big 12, making the Cyclones tied for first place in the conference going into the last month of the regular season.

On Monday, coach Matt Campbell had his weekly press conference and addressed some of the key points from last weekend and preparing for the upcoming weekend at West Virginia.

Iowa State ranked No. 14 in AP Top 25

Iowa State was ranked No. 25 in the AP Top 25 poll on Oct. 22 for the first time since 2005. After pulling off the upset, the Cyclones knew they would keep a spot in the top 25, but where was the question.

Yesterday, the Associated Press released the latest poll and had Iowa State ranked No. 14. This is the highest ranking since 2002.

Iowa State will play a non-ranked West Virginia team this weekend before taking on Oklahoma State, the biggest game left on its schedule next weekend.

Marcel Spears wins second straight Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week

Coach Matt Campbell remembers having a question brought up during Media Day in Dallas this past summer about the linebacker corps.

“Someone asked me this, ‘what is the biggest surprise on our team?’” Campbell said. “I said our linebacker corps. I really, really thought that group had a chance to be really special. And not because they’re great players, but because of who they are.”

Spears is part of the linebacker corps and received his second straight Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week from his performance against TCU. He had four solo tackles and nine total tackles against the Horned Frogs, while also having one tackle for a loss.

The redshirt sophomore has 70 total tackles, which is second best on the team behind Joel Lanning. He also has two interceptions and four tackles for loss.

Injuries add up this week

Iowa State is facing some injuries that could adjust the starting lineup for the West Virginia game.

First, redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Bryce Meeker will be out for this week’s game against the Mountaineers because of a knee injury. Meeker was helped off the field against TCU and was holding his knee.

“Bryce Meeker is going to be out,” Campbell said. “The extended amount of time, I don’t know. The positive is that it’s not an ACL injury, which we were all nervous about.”

Campbell said Meeker has been a large component of the offensive line’s success over the season. He’s hoping to get Meeker back sooner than later, but will depend on redshirt freshman Sean Foster to take over Meeker’s spot while he’s gone.

Freshman running back Johnnie Lang is back on the practice field. The main challenge is using Lang is the right ways to make sure he’s utilized correctly.

Finally, junior defensive end Matt Leo will be shut down this season, according to Campbell. Leo has been dealing with injuries throughout the season and Campbell didn’t confirm, but a medical redshirt could be coming for Leo.

This would allow him to have two more years at Iowa State instead of throwing one season away this year because of injury.

Leo is from Australia and worked his way to the United State to play football. He was a rugby player in his hometown, but wanted to try something new.

Matt Campbell still learning as a coach

Campbell is in his second season as head coach at Iowa State, but this isn’t his first spot in coaching. Before becoming a Cyclone, Campbell coached four seasons at Toledo in Ohio and built the program from the ground up.

The 37-year-old coach became a head coach at 32 and being that young in college football, Campbell understands he needs to continue growing from his teams and from other coaches.

After the TCU game, Campbell said he’s still learning to be a head coach. He knows he doesn’t know everything regarding being a head coach at a “Power 5” conference school.

“I think you’re constantly growing in this profession,” Campbell said. “I think there’s a process to this position and taking that job at such a young age, I think I just continue to learn and grow.”