Iowa Stage running back starters could be decided by the end of the week
Randy Peterson, email@example.com
AMES, Ia. — All right. It’s now really official.
Iowa State football has the most preseason respect, love, anticipation and excitement in the school’s history.
For the first time, the Cyclones are a consensus Top 25 — No. 21 on the Associated Press media poll released Monday, and 24th on the USA Today Coaches’ poll that came out a couple weeks ago.
Raise the roof, Iowa State fans. Your team is getting national respect.
Now the next step is for Matt Campbell’s team to live up to it. It’s time they #ProveIt.
- Don’t lose games you’re expected to win — like the Aug. 31 opener against Northern Iowa at Jack Trice Stadium, and Sept. 21 at home against Louisiana-Monroe.
- Protect the home grass — against Iowa on Sept. 14, TCU on Oct. 5, Oklahoma State on Oct. 26, Texas on Nov. 16 and Kansas a Saturday later.
- Be smart — like not doing dumb stuff off-the-field that could result in missing a significant game or games.
- Stay as injury-free as possible — there’s a big drop-off at some positions, and especially at quarterback.
- Pull off an upset — as in beat Texas at home.
Doing all that will be impossible, but you get my point.
I’ll refresh this Campbell comment from Big 12 Media Days last month — both because it’s pertinent and also because I like it:
“I don’t mean this to be negative in any stretch of the imagination, but if we worried about what the expectations of our football program were outside of our walls — the first three years, I think we would have crumbled really fast. So what we’ve been able to do is handle our own expectations and making our own expectations way loftier than anything that could be said outside of our walls.”
That mantra has carried over to players, to fans and finally to the college football nation, however …
I still wonder how a program can achieve its best-ever preseason success, after losing the two best players from very good 2017 and 2018 teams?
Running back David Montgomery is in the NFL. Receiver Hakeem Butler is in the NFL. Both left college a year early — and the jury is still out who replaces them.
Which of the five candidates replace Montgomery — Sheldon Croney, Kene Nwangwu, Johnnie Lang Breece Hall or Jirehl Brock?
“I’d think we’d like to have a pretty good idea of it probably at the end of the week or the beginning of next week,” said Tom Manning, the offensive coordinator who also oversees running backs. “They’re very interchangeable. I don’t know if it really comes down to who gets the first handoff.”
Whoever wins the job will face a good schedule, bolstered heavily by the usual Big 12 round-robin. It’s not a season-breaker, though, considering Iowa, Oklahoma and Texas are the only consensus AP and USA Today preseason rateds.
The takeaway is that it’s major recognition for Campbell’s program, and for his standout assistant coaches who successfully recruited Big 12-caliber players.
They’re building a program for the long haul. The fact that it’s where it is entering Year Four — well, that actually seems about right.
Iowa State has been among either AP or Coaches Top-25 in each of the last two seasons, including five times last season.
The goal now is getting accustomed to being rated. It’s now about getting used to being a consistent Top 25, because that’s where this program appears to be headed.
Randy Peterson is the Iowa State columnist for the Register. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 515-284-8132, and on Twitter at @RandyPete.
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Source: Des Moines Register