Notebook: Offensive line changes, Warren closes in on 1,000 yards ahead of Oklahoma game

Iowa State right guard Daniel Burton (70) prepares for the snap during the game against Kansas Sat. afternoon. The Cyclones would go on to beat the Jayhawks 38-13.

Max Dible

Iowa State utterly dominated Texas on Saturday night, routing the Longhorns 24-0 in Jack Trice Stadium. But despite the score, the Cyclones didn’t escape unblemished.

Offensive guard Daniel Burton has been ruled out for this week’s game against the Sooners in Norman, Okla., along with defensive end Pierre Aka. Both were hurt against the Longhorns on Saturday night.

ISU coach Paul Rhoads said he hopes resting Burton this week will allow him to play in the final three games of the season. Stepping in for Burton will be a familiar face, Wendell Taiese, who is part of the regular three-man rotation at the two guard positions on the ISU offensive line.

“Wendell’s been rotating in off the bench,” said offensive tackle Jake Campos. “He’s gotten a lot of confidence these last couple games. He played very well last week, so I think he’ll step up.”

Defensive end Trent Taylor and defensive tackle Bobby Leath will return to uniform against Oklahoma, but it’s also likely fans will see a lot of J.D. Waggoner, who was moved up to a starting position at defensive end on the depth chart Monday.

Rhoads commended Waggoner’s hustle against Texas, saying the redshirt sophomore is beginning to show return on the team’s investment.

“That tenacity that he plays with — it’s paying off for him,” Rhoads said. “And it’s paying off for us.”

Warren running wild

Redshirt freshman running back Mike Warren is on the cusp of 1,000 rushing yards, a mark he’ll hit with only 46 yards on the ground against Oklahoma this Saturday.

Not only will Warren be the first ISU back to eclipse 1,000 yards since Alexander Robinson in 2009, he’ll do so as the nation’s leading freshman runner.

The real icing is that if he reaches the four-digit mark against the Sooners, which he should easily assuming he stays healthy throughout the game, it will happen in his home state of Oklahoma.

Warren admitted it would mean a lot to earn the accomplishment in front of friends and family, roughly 20 of whom have requested tickets already, but said he’s trying to take a workman-like approach in the interest of continued achievement.

“It’s just another game to me,” Warren said. “I have the guys around me to calm me down, too.”

Perhaps the most impressive stat of Warren’s season is that through the first two games, he’d amassed only 28 yards on nine carries. Since then, the young back has exploded. Rhoads credited it to better field vision, in part from simply keeping his eyes up.

Campos agreed.

“I think the biggest thing Mike does is he makes a decision and he sticks to it,” Campos said. “He’s got some of the best vision I think I’ve seen out here in the past couple years.”

Capable of bursts of uncommon speed, Warren also has the ability to run away from defenders. A long touchdown of his was called back against Texas, but Rhoads said Warren — already with double-digit carries under his belt and the recipient of a number of big hits — clocked in at 22 miles per hour in the open field on the reversed play.

“[There is] a lot of upside left in his game,” Rhoads said of Warren. “Helping him remember that he’s got a fifth gear and that he can go sometimes instead of making some cuts in the open field, that’ll be the next step [in his progression as a runner].”

 Lights, camera, PLAY ACTION!

Baker Mayfield and yet another high-powered Big 12 offense in Oklahoma do one thing particularly well — set up the play action pass with a stellar run game.

And the problems they present already have Rhoads stressing out.

“You’ve got to control the run, stop it if you’re able, to win football games [against Oklahoma],” Rhoads said. “If you’re going to do that, [the Sooners] are going to have opportunities with the play action passing game.”

But running the football effectively will be just as important to the ISU offense, which looked solid in quarterback Joel Lanning’s first start, but overcame a lack of accuracy and a barrage of short-armed passes from the new signal caller.

Lanning completed just 19 of 37 attempts against Texas and blamed many of his issues on throwing off of his back foot.

“If we can’t run the ball, and we get forced into a passing game against this defense, we’ll be in trouble,” Rhoads said.

Wulff taking leave

Paul Wulff, who worked with new ISU offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy both at Washington State and at Eastern Washington before that, has left Ames only a week after being brought on by Sturdy and Rhoads.

It isn’t cause for any concern though. It isn’t a permanent leave of absence.

“Paul’s gone,” Rhoads said Monday. “He’s on his way to London with his family. He had a pre-arranged trip, a birthday celebration. I knew that going into it, so he left today, and he’ll be back next week.”

Rhoads said the staff squeezed 48 hours of intense preparation out of Wulff before he left with family across the pond.