AMES, Iowa — It was apparent after Iowa State’s opener that the Cyclones will struggle to run the ball this season. The Cyclones can’t seem to throw it much, either, an issue that has plunged the program into a quarterback controversy just two games into coach Matt Campbell’s first season.
Quarterback Joel Lanning’s starting job may be in jeopardy after he gave way to sophomore Jacob Park in last week’s 42-3 loss to No. 13 Iowa . Iowa State, which is 127th out of 128 FBS teams with just 11.5 points per game, visits TCU (1-1) on Saturday as a 23.5-point underdog hoping to avoid its first 0-3 start since 1997.
“I don’t know if I forecast any major changes right now. But I think that’s what practice is for,” Campbell said.
In the offseason there was never a question that Lanning, a junior who took over the starting job midway through last season, would be the guy going forward. But he looked so bad on Saturday that Campbell was forced to pull him.
Lanning, who threw three touchdowns passes for the third time in his career in Iowa State’s 25-20 loss to FCS school Northern Iowa on Sept. 3, looked shaky from the opening series against the Hawkeyes.
Lanning misfired on a number of easy early passes designed to help the Cyclones move the ball in the absence of a rushing threat. Iowa only made things worse, forcing Iowa State to abandon the run game altogether by building a 28-3 lead before halftime. Lanning completed just 8 of 20 passes for 86 yards and, for the third time in two games, an interception that could’ve easily been avoided.
Park, a transfer who started his career at Georgia, wasn’t much better. He finished 6 of 15 for 79 yards playing largely against Iowa reserves.
Lanning was listed as the starter on Monday’s depth chart, and the fact that his teammates named him a captain would make a change a tricky one.
But Campbell didn’t dismiss the idea of playing both against the Horned Frogs, who will likely be motivated to rebound from a 41-38 home loss to Arkansas last weekend.
“If you look at my past, I’ve never been a one-quarterback guy. I think I’ve always (been about) what gives us the best chance to be successful,” Campbell said. “We’re going to do whatever we need to do to give ourselves some consistency on (offense).”
Iowa State’s offensive line, battered by injuries and inexperience, appears to be a problem that won’t be fixed anytime soon. Running back Mike Warren, who had 1,337 yards as a freshman in 2015, had just seven carries for 28 yards last weekend as Iowa stuffed him in the backfield time and time again.
Campbell said Saturday that Warren has “got to be a guy that’s accountable on and off the field,” adding that he thought Warren failed to make some plays that he could have made. He didn’t completely change from that stance Monday.
“My challenge to Michael is my challenge for all of our players. We have to continue to get better,” said Campbell, who added that his comments weren’t meant to be a “dig” at Warren. “We knew what expectations would be put on Mike … he’s got to make sure he’s at his best constantly so he can handle all that comes with that.”
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