Joel Lanning, Mike Warren lead offense in emotional victory against Longhorns

ISU quarterback Joel Lanning falls after a run against Texas on Saturday night. The Cyclones defeated the Longhorns in a 24-0 shutout.

Luke Manderfeld

The ISU offense dominated almost every statistic that could be found Saturday night in Iowa State’s 24-0 victory against Texas.

It doubled Texas in yards, had over 15 minutes more than Texas in time of possession and had as many run plays as the Longhorns ran total plays.

The dominating performance was certainly helped by the defense shutting out Texas, which overshadowed the offense’s 24 points to assist in the Cyclones’ second win against Texas in school history — both of which occurred under coach Paul Rhoads. 

And all of this is coming on the heels of a new offensive coordinator, a new starting quarterback and three straight losses. 

“It’s been a stressful week for myself and [offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy] and pretty much the whole offense,” said quarterback Joel Lanning. “We just kept together as a brotherhood and just kept fighting. It’s great to get a ‘W,'”

Rhoads announced last Monday that Lanning would be taking over as the starting quarterback, replacing fifth-year senior Sam Richardson. Rhoads’ first take of his new starting quarterback: Not exceeding expectations, but not disappointing as well. 

“I would say that it was very accurate to what I expected to some degree,” Rhoads said. “What happened to Joel in his first start, when he had the whole team this week and all the preparation to go through, against a team that brings a lot of pressure? It was about what we expected.”

Lanning impressed with his feet, rushing for 64 yards on 13 carries and had more than a few 3rd down scrambles that kept multiple ISU drives alive.

What Lanning did the best on the night, though, was show his ability to handle pressure in the backfield. On multiple plays, he could be seen dancing and jumping away from defenders and throwing the ball while being away from the pocket.

“I think he handled the pressure extremely well,” said wide receiver Allen Lazard. “He was able to escape and make big plays with his feet and with his arm. I was very impressed with him. I’m not saying I’m shocked or anything. I’ve been watching him do that since high school.”

Lanning, an Ankeny, Iowa, native, took a lot of hits while attempting to evade pressure. But every time he would jump right off the slippery gridiron and right back into the huddle.

Rhoads called it “Ankeny tough.”

“He is a competitive, competitive kid,” Rhoads said. “He stayed in there, under pressure, and made some throws. He’s tough. He ran for productive yardage, whether that was by design or scrambles. He took some hits on some scrambles and got up. The team knew who the leader was and who’s in charge.”

It wasn’t all good for Lanning, who barely reached a 50-percent completion rate on the night. He threw the ball short of receivers on multiple occasions, some of them being open with room to run.

Lanning attributed his throwing woes to throwing off of his back foot, something he will address in practice this week.

He had one stellar throw, though — an over-the-top pass to receiver Dondre Daley in the end zone. It was Lanning’s best throw of the night and his only touchdown pass on his way to 188 passing yards.

Almost lost in all of Iowa State’s personnel changes this week, redshirt freshman running back Mike Warren put up another impressive performance and didn’t disappoint the more than 54,000 fans in attendance at Jack Trice Stadium.

Warren rushed for 157 yards on 32 carries — his fifth game of 100 or more rushing yards in his last six games.

Warren is now 46 yards away from 1,000 total rushing yards this season, a mark that hasn’t been reached by an ISU player since 2009, when Alexander Robinson ran for 1,195 yards.

The mark is still etched in Warren’s mind. Earlier in the week, Warren said he would take the linemen out to dinner when he crossed the 1,000-yard threshold.

“It means a lot to the O-line,” Warren said. “I’ll probably be going broke in the next week, but, you know, it’s all worth it.”

But in a game of so much success for Iowa State, there were concerns for the offensive line. Guard Daniel Burton went down with an injury during the first half and didn’t return to the game.

Rhoads said after the game it didn’t look good.

“Not good,” Rhoads said. “Probably not season-ending, but not good heading into Oklahoma.”

The line also lost Jaypee Philbert Jr. late in the game. His status is still uncertain.

There won’t be any moping around practice this week, though, as Rhoads and the rest of the team made a statement against one of the perennial powerhouses in college football.

Now having the third win of the season under its belt, the rest of the team can hang its hat on a victory against Texas, a bright spot that critics haven’t been able to point to in the past couple of seasons.

“People are always going to have an opinion,” Rhoads said. “And I appreciate that. Sometimes I wish it was a realistic opinion. But they’re going to be critical, and they’ll be happy tonight. Those people will be silent tonight.”