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  • Peterson's First Thoughts: Zeb Noland's future is now. It's his Iowa State team for the three-game grinder

Peterson's First Thoughts: Zeb Noland's future is now. It's his Iowa State team for the three-game grinder


It’s too soon to evaluate Iowa State’s play in the red zone, coach Matt Campbell says. Red zone TDs will come.
Randy Peterson, rpeterson@dmreg.com

AMES, Ia. — This will continue to be Zeb Noland’s team — even when Kyle Kempt returns from the MCL injury he suffered against Iowa.

Kempt already has missed games against Oklahoma and Akron. Cyclones coach Matt Campbell said during his Tuesday press conference that it’ll be at least two weeks — perhaps even three — at the soonest before he’s healthy enough to play in a game.

“He’s not practicing yet,” Campbell said. “Sunday was the first time he was back on the field. That was good to see.

“That was a huge sign of positive going forward.”

But it’s Zeb on Saturday at TCU . . . and the following Saturday at Oklahoma State, and probably even the Saturday after that back home against West Virginia.

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Looking for a way to beat TCU on Saturday? Force turnovers.

The Horned Frogs have thrown six interceptions. They’ve lost three fumbles.

That’s nine over the 2-2 season, including seven in the past two games.

Just saying …

We’ve glorified walk-on place-kicker Connor Assalley — and rightly so — for being Iowa State’s only consistent offense. He’s 7-for-7 in the field goal department during this 1-2 Iowa State season. He’s the Cyclones’ top scorer — eight points ahead of highlight-reel receiver Hakeem Butler.

While the Cyclones have scored 100 percent of the time inside the red zone, they’re scoring touchdowns at just a 22.2 percent clip.

“We’ve played three games. That’s the biggest thing,” Campbell said. “The thing that’s been positive is inside the 10-yard line — where we’re better than we were a year ago. We have been efficient down there.

“I see we are further ahead in a lot of ways from a year ago — doing some things that will help in critical situations as the season goes on.

“Inside that 10-yard line is where I see you’re really talking red-zone football. I see some areas of improvement.”

At least they’re 100 percent in the field goal department.

“It’s just been three games,” Campbell said. “We’re doing some good things inside the 10-yard line.”

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What happened to fade passes in the end zone to the team’s top receiver? Those plays worked last season, Name-Your-Quarterback jump balls throws to Allen Lazard in an end zone corner.

Add that, also, to the reason Iowa State has just two red zone touchdowns, however as Campbell insinuated Tuesday …

“Stay tuned. It’s just been three games.”

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Who’s the next backup quarterback to play in a game?  Noland was the guy against Iowa after Kempt got hurt. Brock Purdy played two plays last Saturday against Akron.

“Brock is a young man we all have great expectations for,” Campbell said. “He has multiple skills. He can run, he can throw, he has a great understanding of what we’re doing offensively.

“It’s kind of why I wanted him in a situation (Saturday) of where (the game) is still on the line.

“He’s one play away from being our starting quarterback right now.”

Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at rpeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.

Source: Des Moines Register