After two straight weeks of home games against in-state rivals, Iowa State is hitting the road to head coach Matt Campbell’s territory for a non-conference game before the Big 12 Conference starts: Akron, Ohio.
The Zips are about two hours east of Campbell’s previous coaching school, Toledo. Even though it’s a non-conference game, Campbell is making sure to prepare the same way as the Cyclones would for in-state or Big 12 games.
“We know Akron will be ready for a challenge [after winning last weekend],” Campbell said. “We just need to be ready for anything that’s thrown our way.”
Iowa State will look for a balanced attack with its offense and defense. The offense is coming off a 41-point production against a Big Ten defense in Iowa and their confidence is higher than ever before.
Redshirt junior quarterback Jacob Park threw for 347 yards and four passing touchdowns against the Hawkeyes. He will be facing an Akron team that has given up 322 passing yards to Penn State in week one and 127 yards to an FCS Arkansas-Pine Bluff team in week two.
Park has been happy with the progress he’s made with each wide receiver over the first few weeks of the season. He’s expecting the chemistry and trust to grow, so every player is ready for the beginning of the Big 12 season.
Not only is the offense expecting Park to play a big part in the Cyclones’ offense on Saturday, but sophomore running back David Montgomery will also be looked upon for some leadership in the backfield.
Montgomery has rushed for over 200 yards over the past two games to start the season along with three rushing touchdowns. This week is extra special going to Ohio though.
His family is from Cincinnati, Ohio, and will be making the three-and-a-half-hour trip to Akron to watch No. 32 in the backfield.
“I’m excited,” Montgomery said. “Right now, I’m counting 58 [friends and family members coming to the game].”
To Montgomery, it’s just another game and he’s going there to complete his goal, which is to get a win in the end and head back to Ames with a 2-1 record.
That second win came close last week, but Iowa edged out Montgomery and the Cyclones in overtime with a 44-41 win. The Cyclones defense disappeared in the second half after forcing a three-and-out on the first drive of the game.
Redshirt senior linebacker Joel Lanning said the team is over the loss against the Hawkeyes and are responding well in practice to become better, so no other offense scores 44 points on the Iowa State defense again.
“I think everyone’s done very well,” Lanning said about recovering from Iowa. “It’s a hard loss. Everyone wants to come out with the win in that situation.”
“That was his challenge to us this week,” Lanning said. “How are we going to respond this week?”
Lanning thinks the team has responded well to that question with harder practices and more players pushing themselves to their limits. The team understands they have a bye week next weekend, so their mindset is to use every ounce of energy and take next week to recover.
The Cyclones’ defense will need to keep their eyes on veteran running back Warren Ball, who transferred from Ohio State. He ran the ball for 146 rushing yards and three touchdowns against Arkansas-Pine Bluff last week.
Lanning said the defense understands Ball’s ability, but will look at the offense as a whole and not just the running back position.
Campbell will see how Iowa State responds on Saturday at 11 a.m. in Akron, Ohio.
Source: Iowa State Daily
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