Matt Campbell address job speculation amid Ohio State scandal
Randy Peterson, firstname.lastname@example.org
How worried should Iowa State fans be about Matt Campbell’s future?
It’s a question that will loom over Iowa State’s season all year, no matter what the Cyclones do.
Campbell’s future and how long he’ll be around has seemingly been a topic of discussion since he first landed in Ames. And for good reason. He’s young and had success first at Toledo and now at Iowa State. People are noticing.
Talk started heating up last season when Iowa State was having success and ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit tweeted that schools should start considering Campbell and that he was “gone.” Dan Patrick’s radio show reported that if Ohio State needed a new coach, Campbell would be at the top of the list.
And colleges may not be the only ones interested in Campbell. Former Iowa State star and NFL veteran Ellis Hobbs has said he believes Campbell could have success at the professional level.
But when it comes to Campbell’s future, Iowa State fans shouldn’t worry — at least not now. The right job has to open first. And the right job could be a place like Notre Dame, Michigan State, Ohio State or even leading an NFL team. None of those are options today.
Also a positive thing for Iowa State fans: Campbell is happy with what he’s building in Ames and the future appears bright for the Cyclones.
Will Kyle Kempt start every game this season?
The fact that’s even a question is amazing. At this point a year ago, most college football fans — even Iowa State fans — didn’t know who Kempt was. That quickly changed when Kempt, who began the season buried on the depth chart, got his first chance to start at No. 3 Oklahoma after Jacob Park left the team.
Kempt made the most of his shot and guided the Cyclones to an upset that day and through one of the greatest months in program history. The storybook season ended with Kempt leading the Cyclones to a victory in the Liberty Bowl.
This season is an entirely different matter for Kempt, who returns after the NCAA granted him a sixth year of eligibility. Not only is he now one of the biggest stars on Iowa State’s roster, he enters his first season as the clear starter.
But how long will it last? History tells us it won’t since Iowa State hasn’t had a quarterback start every game in a single season since Austen Arnaud in 2008.
Staying healthy will be one of the biggest keys. Kempt was roughed up and missed some time last season, which opened the door for Zeb Noland to come off the bench and nearly guide Iowa State to an upset of No. 15 Oklahoma State. Noland got his first win a week later at Baylor.
Noland returns for his redshirt sophomore season with experience under his belt and one of the strongest arms in the quarterback room, but he’s not the only play caller battling for playing time. True freshman Re-al Mitchell could work his way on the field, most likely in running situations. And true freshman Brock Purdy has turned heads early, but will likely redshirt this season.
If something happens to Kempt this season or Iowa State coaches feel the need to make a change, they certainly have options.
Is this David Montgomery’s last season?
It’s a topic that Montgomery doesn’t want to discuss but it’s something that’s going to come up soon.
Montgomery is not only one of the best running backs in the Big 12 Conference, but one of the best in the country. During the 2017 season he rushed for 1,146 yards and led the nation with 109 missed tackles — the most in a season by an FBS player since Pro Football Focus began tracking the stat in 2014.
If that’s not enough, Montgomery showed himself to be a capable receiveing threat by grabbing 36 receptions for 296 yards last season.
Like Kempt, the key for Montgomery will be staying healthy. Running behind an inexperienced line in 2017, Montgomery absorbed more than his fair share of hits. He’ll experience even more wear and tear this season with Iowa State’s offense likely tailored even more to Montgomery’s strengths.
But Montgomery’s hard work could be rewarded. He enters his junior season ranked by Pro Football Focus as the top running back in the 2019 class. CBS Sports ranks him the 12th-best player in the entire class, meaning a first-round NFL draft selection is in play.
That type of money is hard to pass up, and Montgomery may not be the only one. Wide receiver Hakeem Butler, who had a breakout season in 2017, could be in his final season if he has another strong campaign. But most eyes will be on Montgomery, who is the odds-on biggest star for the Cyclones in 2018.
Can Iowa State compete for a Big 12 title?
One of the most surprising storylines of Iowa State’s 2017 season was the fact that the Cyclones were in the — albeit distant — conversation to play in the Big 12 title game.
A lot of things would have had to break in the team’s favor at the end of that season for that to become reality, but that doesn’t change the fact that Iowa State was in a position it hadn’t been in for a very long time.
Iowa State ultimately finished in tie for fourth place in the league and capped the season with a bowl win. But with several key contributors returning, will Iowa State build on last season?
Competing for a Big 12 title will never be easy for the Cyclones, who always have to compete in a loaded conference wilth powerhouses like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and West Virginia. This season will be no different.
Oklahoma again enters the season as the Big 12 favorite. West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen brings back one of his best teams since the Mountaineers joined the conference. Texas Christian should be in the hunt. And then there’s Texas, which is gaining ground in coach Tom Herman’s second season, and Kansas State, which usually finds ways to win under Bill Snyder.
Even though a trip to the Big 12 title game may seem like a longshot, Iowa State could very well be in the conversation again. Only if it survives the first half of its daunting schedule, which includes a matchup with the Sooners and trips to Stillwater and Fort Worth.
A silver lining is that this should be Campbell’s best team since he arrived in Ames, and if last season showed anything, it’s that no one on Iowa State’s schedule is unbeatable.
Can the offensive line hold up?
The offensive line is one of the biggest question marks when it comes to the Cyclones in 2018. Can this group open holes for Montgomery and give Kempt time to find open receivers? Can they provide those two stars enough protection to avoid some hard hits and remain healthy?
Campbell has raved about the line’s potential, but it’s still a young and inexperienced group that has struggled in recent seasons while also making some strides. Jeff Myers helped mold the group behind the scenes as a graduate assistant before officially taking over as Iowa State’s offensive line coach this season.
This year’s offensive line will need to some players to grow quickly. Redshirt freshman Colin Newell is expected to be thrown in the deep end right away and take a starting spot at center. If he can handle the job, that should allow versatile redshirt Julian Good-Jones to slide in at left tackle. The overall success of the line may hinge on both moves.
An open competition has been taking place between redshirt sophomore Josh Mueller and redshirt seniors Will Windham and Oge Udeogu to start at left guard.
Source: Des Moines Register