Takeaways from Iowa State’s spring game

Redshirt freshman Chase Allen runs upfield after he made a catch during the spring football game at Jack Trice Stadium on April 8. 

Austin Anderson

The Iowa State football team held its annual spring game on Saturday. The offense won 50-44.

Here are three takeaways from the action. 

Mike Warren looked to be back to form

Warren’s drop-off from his spectacular first year to his second year in the Iowa State offense is undeniable. He had fewer than half of his freshman amount of yards in his sophomore season. But a common theme among coaches is Warren’s work ethic to bounce back from his struggling season.

“As a coach, my job is to get every one of our kids to play to their full potential,” coach Matt Campbell said. “The reality of it is you have to do a great job of doing what makes each guy tick and be honest. I think, to a fault sometimes maybe, I’m honest with everybody. Mike’s just a guy who has responded so well.”

His response on Saturday was exactly what his coach was looking for. Warren found the end zone twice on just four carries for 28 yards.

His first touchdown was on a 20-yard run. He shifted directions on a play designed to go to the left side. Warren cut back to the right side and found himself in the end zone on a carry that would have tied his longest run of last season.

“He had a really good day today,” Campbell said. “It gives him self-confidence going into the summer and obviously into next fall. We’re going to need Mike Warren to be playing at an elite level for us. He’s a guy that’s got that kind of ability.”

The offense showed some of its potential explosiveness

On one series, quarterback Jacob Park connected with wide receiver Trever Ryen for 27 yards. The next snap, redshirt freshman tight end Chase Allen got the Cyclones to the 20-yard line after a 15-yard catch from Park. Then Warren had his second touchdown of the game on the 20-yard run.

Sixty-two yards in three plays, in one minute of real time.

“It’s going to make everything so much easier having [Chase Allen], Hakeem [Butler], Allen [Lazard], Matt Eaton,” Park said. “Y’all ain’t seen Matt Eaton yet, but he’s a freak too. We just got receivers and athletes that are going to make my job a lot easier this year.”

It was Allen’s first time in a real game-type setting after sitting out last year due to getting hit by a car and being hospitalized with different illnesses.

“I’ve been yearning for this,” Allen said. “All fall I had to sit out and then finally getting a chance to get on the field and compete, it was just like, ‘Man.’ Things finally started clicking, all that work we put in, everything I learned last year just from watching really paid off.”

Sheldon Croney Jr. is making his case to be the No. 3 running back

After speedy running back and returner Kene Nwangwu went down before spring practices started with an Achilles injury, the No. 3 spot on the running back depth chart opened up, behind Warren and David Montgomery.

The competition has been between Croney, a redshirt sophomore, and Ethan Staskewicz, a redshirt freshman.

“Sheldon has been one of the great surprises in camp,” Campbell said. “As much as I’ve challenged any player on our team, I challenged Sheldon Croney when he came back this offseason. What are you? What’s your role? How do you help us have success here? Sheldon has answered the bell.”

On Saturday, Croney was the Cyclones’ leading rusher with 10 carries for 39 yards.

“I think he’s done a really good job,” Campbell said. “He’s got great talent and now he can see if he can continue this positivity that he had through the last couple weeks of spring and if he can springboard once fall camp rolls around.”

Fans saw with their own eyes, finally, Joel Lanning can play linebacker

Lanning, who was the Cyclones’ leading tackler on defense, intercepted a ball thrown by Park and returned it for a touchdown.

Read more about Lanning’s day here.