Iowa State Football Trying To Improve Running Game

Posted: Sep 30 2014, 2:09am CDT | by , in News | Latest Sports News

Iowa State Football Trying to Improve Running Game
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The Iowa State Cyclones are trying to get more production from their struggling running game.

The Iowa State Cyclones are trying to get more production from their struggling running game.

On Sept. 29, Ames Tribune sports editor Bobby La Gesse spoke with Cyclones head football coach Paul Rhoads, who is well aware of the issue at hand:

"The time for talk is over, at least when it comes to the Iowa State rushing attack.

"Coach Paul Rhoads didn't want do address the struggles during his Monday press conference. He'd rather spend his time finding solutions before facing No. 21 Oklahoma State on Saturday.

"'I am not going to beat a dead horse,' Rhoads said. 'We all know we are not running the ball well enough as a football team, and there is a lot of things that contribute to that and we are working to improve.'

"The ground game hasn't come together this season, despite returning running back Aaron Wimberly and the entire offensive line. The Cyclones are 110th nationally in rushing, averaging 102.2 yards per game.

"Rhoads is quick to admit he's frustrated. He wants ISU to be an imposing rushing offense that controls the line of scrimmage.

"'We've got to fix it,' Rhoads said. 'It's certainly being addressed, and it's not something that we are going to put our heads in the sand about, but you've got to scheme things up sometimes...whether that's smoke and mirrors or leverage and angles, we need to do a better job of blocking.

"'That is not just the interior five. That is everybody, receivers are a part of the blocking group, and tight ends, and our running backs need to do a better job of running the football.'

"Quarterback Sam Richardson leads the Cyclones with 218 rushing yards. He has more yards than running backs DeVondrick Nealy and Wimberly combined. They have rushed for 185 combined yards.

"The running backs gained only 28 yards against No. 7 Baylor (Bears) on Saturday.

"'I am not going to place the blame on anybody,' offensive guard Daniel Burton said. 'I would definitely say the offensive line can play better, that's for sure. It's obvious, and I think we know it.'

"And it's upsetting Burton as much as Rhoads.

"'It's disappointing as an offensive lineman,' Burton said. 'We put a lot of work into that. It just didn't work out like it's supposed to sometimes.'

"Baylor stuffed the ISU running game with a stout defensive line and all-out blitzes. The Cyclones knew they were coming, but couldn't open up big enough holes when the linebackers and defensive backs attacked the line of scrimmage.

"'I am sure we'll continue to get a lot of it,' Burton said.

"ISU tried to address the running game last week.

"It was a focus in practice and the Cyclones pulled the redshirt off of true freshman running back Martinez Syria, planning on using him as a short-yardage back. Syria rushed eight times for 15 yards.

"There is not choice but to address it again.

"'That will be something we'll put a lot of emphasis on,' Burton said. 'We will really try to come out prepared and re-energized.'

"It starts with better technique up front.

"'Talking about getting more vertical push and handling movement better,' Burton said. 'Those are things we have to continue to work on in practice and get our fundamentals squared away.'

"When it happens, expect Rhoads to be more talkative on the subject.

"'You've got to run the ball, and you have to defend the run if you are going to be successful,' Rhoads said. 'We are not even scratching the surface at doing that.'"

The Ames Tribune's Travis Hines also reported on the Cyclones' dismal running game in his Sept. 28 article:

"Iowa State's running backs have done precious little running this season. Aaron Wimberly and DeVondrik Nealy have yet to make a significant impact on the ground this season, a trend that continued Saturday in the Cyclones' 49-28 loss to No. 6 Baylor on Saturday.

"ISU has received hardly any production out of their backfield, with Wimberly and Nealy combining for 192 yards this season with a paltry yards-per-carry mark of 2.95.

"'It's a big concern because there is no running attack,' ISU coach Phil Rhoads said.

"It was as bad as it's been all season against the Bears. The Cyclones' running game never threatened to break a long run with the backs.

"The situation has deteriorated so badly that Paul Rhoads and company decided to do away with a redshirt season for Martinez Syria, inserting the true freshman into the game late in the first half despite the fact the Cyclones hadn't given a single carry all season to a third-string running back. It was announced that Rob Standard, who had been third on the depth chart, left the team this week.

"...The Cyclones' backs' struggles have also increased the burden on quarterback Sam Richardson, who leads ISU in rushing for the season. He became the first Cyclone to top the run 100-yard mark in a game since Wimberly did it against (the) Texas (Longhorns) on Oct. 3, 2013."

The Cyclones currently sports a 1-3 win-loss record heading into their Oct. 4 game against the the No. 21 Oklahoma State Cowboys.

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The Author

Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.




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