TRENCH TEST: Campos-Ott matchup key in Cy-Hawk clash

 AMESJake Campos grabbed the remote, kicked back, and watched.

 Several hours before his Iowa State Cyclones kicked off the season Saturday with a 31-7 win over Northern Iowa, the left tackle decided to attack some homework.

 The subject: Iowa defensive end Drew Ott.

 The takeaway: He’s fast and powerful — and in Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. game between ISU and the Hawkeyes he’ll serve as Campos’s latest formidable measuring stick before 61,500 fans at Jack Trice Stadium.

 “You’ve just got to stay low and you’ve got to counter his speed with your speed and then you’ve got to sink low and get his power moves down, because he’ll really bring it,” Campos said.

 The Campos-Ott matchup will be one of several to observe as the Cyclones seek their fourth win in the past five meetings against Iowa.

 Ott, a first team academic all-conference selection like Campos, surged for a pair of sacks in the Hawkeyes’ season-opening 31-14 triumph over Illinois State.

 He posted 7.5 sacks last season, but none during ISU’s Cole Netten-fueled 20-17 victory at Kinnick Stadium. Campos, a 6-8 297-pound sophomore, played right tackle in that game, so this will be his first Ott encounter.

 “Playing against him will really make me a better player,” said Campos, whose first career start matched him up with former K-State standout Ryan Mueller. “He’s just a real big powerful guy and I’ m still working on putting on the mass. I’ve got a lot better hang of it this year, so it will be fun to see where I’m actually at.”

 The Cyclones rushed for a season-low 82 yards in last year’s win over Iowa, but quarterback Sam Richardson responded with one of his better games, completing 25 of 36 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns.

 ISU rushed for just 77 yards in Saturday’s win over the Panthers, but Coach Paul Rhoads said any shortcomings along the offensive front and the backfield are correctable.

 “A lot of fixable things that we were able to view on film,” Rhoads said of miscues in the trenches on both sides of the ball. “We’ll be able to view them with the kids today and immediately begin fixing them on the practice field. Both mental and physical, but fixable things.”

 Campos, whom Rhoads described as a “perfectionist” during fall camp, acknowledged he can take himself to task too harshly at times.

 He’s still not as bulked up as he’d like to be, but he’s sharpened technique while cutting himself at least a little bit of slack.

 “I got into a little bit of a slump during camp,” Campos said of his self-criticism. “I had a couple days where I was felling little bit off and I was pretty hard on myself. But I got right out of it and I’m feeling a lot better.”

 Ott will test Campos’s more relaxed view of personal flaws. Any weakness will be amplified. Strengths will show up better, too.

“If he beats me off the ball it will be hard to recover,” Campos said. “It will be be dangerous.”

 But if Campos is up to par speed-wise, that concern will be greatly diminished. At any rate, all eyes will be on that battle — until one side sprints to the Cy-Hawk trophy and raises it triumphantly.

 “That is just absolutely exhilarating, going out there and having the whole team around there and everybody’s kind of tripping over one another,” Campos said of his hardware hoist last season. “It’s absolute madness.”


 *** Rhoads said he’s not concerned about place kicker Cole Netten’s 1-for-3 field goal effort in Saturday’s win. Netten emerged as the hero of last year’s 20-17 Cy-Hawk win, kicking a game-winning 48-yard field goal in the closing seconds. "I wasn’t pleased, but I’m not concerned," Rhoads said. "The first one was jitters. That’s what he gave me on the sideline — and I get that to a certain extent, especially with the opening game and the crowd and the stadium and all that. The second one was fundamentals and technique. That’s what we’ve got to make sure he fixes. He will."

 *** Rhoads said suspended defensive end Trent Taylor is back in good graces this week. So is receiver Jauan Wesley. Offensive guard Daniel Burton — who saw a 12-game starts streak snapped Saturday because of a knee issue — remains day-to-day, but Rhoads is hopeful he’ll contribute against Iowa. "He’s close," Rhoads noted. "Doing a lot of stuff on land, but now we’ll match him up against physical bodies and see if he’s there. We believe he’s got a good chance to be ready Saturday.”

 *** How many times did the punt Trever Ryen returned for an 81-yard touchdown against UNI bounce before he scooped it up? He wasn’t counting, though Rhoads said "he went against rules" by eventually fielding it. No one quibbled with the end result, however. "The first thing I thought about it when I crossed the (goal line) is, ‘I’ve got to celebrate with my friends,’" said Ryen, a walk-on running back. "I was ready to just celebrate with them in the end zone." It had been almost a year since a Cyclone had scored on a punt return (Jarvis West, 82 yards, Sept. 6, 2014 vs. K-State). Fellow punt returner Allen Lazard returned four punts for 100 yards — giving ISU it’s first 100-yard punt returner since Ryan Baum totaled 103 yards in a Sept. 30, 2006 win over UNI. "(The) blocking unit did a great job," Lazard said. 


Rob Gray


Rob, an Ames native, joined Cyclone Fanatic in August, 2014 after nearly a decade and a half of working at Iowa's two largest newspapers. He spent 10 years at the Des Moines Register and, after a brief stint in public relations, joined the Cedar Rapids Gazette as an Iowa State correspondent three years ago. Rob specializes in feature stories for CF.

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