Notebook: Having fun, making progress on offense and scouting Austin Kendall


Head Coach Matt Campbell celebrates a Cyclone touchdown against the TCU Horned Frogs on Oct. 5, 2019. Iowa State won 49-24.

Noah Rohlfing

A convincing win over Texas Christian University (TCU) on Saturday has Iowa State right on track for its October resurgence. Facing a trip to West Virginia to play the 3-2 Mountaineers, Matt Campbell discussed everything from the team’s offensive improvements to calling himself a “ding dong” for initially preferring a grey-shirt for defensive end Zach Petersen. 

Cyclones having fun on offense

There was a different vibe around the offense before the TCU game, Campbell said, and it came down to one thing: fun. 

Campbell said the Cyclones’ offense was putting too much pressure on itself to succeed early on and it led to games like Baylor — where Iowa State’s offense was dormant for three quarters. Now, Campbell said, the Cyclones are enjoying themselves and taking the pressure off. 

Wide receiver Deshaunte Jones agreed with Campbell’s sentiment and he said the team put pressure on itself to replace David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler.

“It’s not really, like, being too hard on ourselves,” Jones said. “[It’s] just going out there and playing freely and when we do that, good things happen. We’re just trying to emphasize that throughout the rest of the season.”

Offensive Line growing in confidence

The offensive line has long been a source of criticism for the Cyclones under Campbell. It’s been inconsistent, penalty-prone and David Montgomery masked a lot of problems in his three years as a starter.

All of the offensive line discussions made the Cyclones’ strong performance in the TCU game even better for Campbell, who he admitted had played poorly against Baylor.

The line has been anchored by Collin Olson at center since the injury of Colin Newell against Northern Iowa (Campbell said Newell was available to play but he wasn’t fully ready). Olson said the adjustment wasn’t too difficult and added the improvement the group made against TCU was coming for a while.

Purdy agreed, saying the jump from Baylor to TCU was stark.

“I felt like they dominated against TCU,” Purdy said. “Both run game and pass protection.”

Defense feeling Vance’s impact

The leader in sacks this season for the Big 12 isn’t someone who’s an obvious choice. It’s not a Texas or TCU player. Hell, it’s not even a defensive lineman. 

It’s O’Rien Vance — Iowa State’s middle linebacker. 

Senior linebacker Marcel Spears said he was loving Vance’s contributions.

“Just being able to put pressure on quarterbacks that don’t wanna run,” Spears said of his impact. “That helps us out [to] get off the field faster.”

With 6.5 sacks through five games, the redshirt sophomore is bringing a different dynamic to the defense without breaking up the chemistry which made the linebackers a strength of the Iowa State defense last year. 

Scouting Austin Kendall

Former Oklahoma quarterback and current West Virginia starter Austin Kendall had a rough day at the office against No. 11 Texas on Saturday. Campbell didn’t buy the idea Kendall would be less of a threat because of his poor showing in against the Longhorns.

“You see a guy that is really performing at a high level for the amount of time and repetition that he’s gotten,” Campbell said.

Kendall has thrown for 1,238 yards, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions this season, his first after transferring in from Oklahoma in the offseason. Kendall came into college as a pro-style quarterback and has 49 yards on 27 carries.