Could Iowa State have some inside information on Kansas State when the team square off Saturday in Manhattan?
Former K-State quarterback Jake Waters is a graduate assistant coach for the Cyclones, but head coach Matt Campbell doesn’t expect much in the way of Wildcat secrets to be passed along.
“The reality of Kansas State is they are who they are,” Campbell said. “They are so well coached and I don’t know if Jake can give you anything other than he was a heck of a football player there, to be honest with you. You have such a respect for Kansas State and the program and the young men that play in that program and I think Jake has brought some of those values to our team.”
Waters, an Iowa native, joined Campbell’s staff after a stint playing in the Canadian Football League and a volunteer coach at Iowa Western Community College where he played before coming to K-State for the 2013-14 seasons. He is working with the ISU wide receivers.
“Jake is a young man I had met a little bit through the recruiting process,” said Campbell, who has the Cyclones bowl eligible in his second season. “When I was at the University of Toledo, we had recruited Jake for a little bit until he had gotten some bigger offers. When we first got here Jake came up and sat in on a couple of our offensive meetings last spring and I was really impressed with him. At that time Jake was still playing in Canada and we had talked and he said he might want to get into coaching someday. Once we had a position open we called Jake and asked him if he would be interested, and he was.
“He’s certainly been a great addition to our program. Jake is a guy who is obviously a proven winner in the Big 12, a guy that won a lot of games as a Big 12 quarterback and been part of a successful football program. I thought that was really important bringing somebody like that into this program that hasn’t had that kind of success. One of the things I really enjoy about my job is to get to hire the young guys that come into a program because I think those guys have such an impact on young players, and I think players instantly gravitate to guys that just got done playing.”
K-State coach Bill Snyder said Waters’ leadership skills easily translate from being a player to a coach.
“As an athlete, he was a tremendously talented player for us in all facets of the game,” Snyder said. “He brought a great deal of leadership to our program. It’s very easy to see why coaching was of interest to him. He has a tremendous knowledge schematically from an offensive standpoint and from a defensive standpoint, as well. He’s a young guy who is pleasant to be around. He interacts well with players. His future in athletics can be as prominent as he would like.”
IOWA STATE OFFENSE: Like K-State, the Cyclones have gone through some quarterbacks this season. Jacob Park made four starts before taking a leave of absence from the team, then senior Kyle Kempt started six games but was injured and freshman Zeb Noland made his first start last week in a victory over Baylor.
Kempt could return against K-State, but regardless of the quarterback the two Cyclones to watch are wide receiver Allen Lazard, who had 55 receptions for 704 yards and nine touchdowns, and running back David Montgomery, who has rushed for 1,080 yards and 11 TDs.
Lazard has at least one reception in 46 straight games and is ISU’s career leader in receptions (225), receiving yards (3,123) and 100-yard games (11).
“He’s 6-5 or a little taller than that and is a good athlete that can jump,” Snyder said. “There’s not many people that play on the defensive side of the ball in the secondary that can have that kind of ability to reach heights.”
IOWA STATE DEFENSE: Former starting quarterback Joel Lanning still sees some time on offense but his shift to linebacker this season has been quite a story.
Lanning is one of four finalists for the Paul Hornung Award has played a total of 881 snaps this season: 721 on defense, 42 offense, 118 special teams. He ranks No. 18 in the nation with 9.4 tackles per game.
“It’s quite obvious he is a strong, strong leader not only of the defense but of the program itself,” Snyder said. “For a guy to go from quarterback to middle linebacker, that’s a different position change than most people would project. It tells you a little about how tough a young person he really is. Sometimes people don’t see quarterbacks as being tough and it’s always my belief that the mental toughness is probably, if they are good at what they do, is as good as anybody at any other position.”
Defensive end JaQuan Bailey has five sacks and free safety Kamari Cotton-Moya has four interceptions.
“They are a team that plays hard,” Snyder said. “Everybody says that about every team but this is a team that plays as hard as anybody from snap to whistle. They are sound in what they do and play responsibility … everybody is where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there. They don’t have an inordinate amount of defensive schemes, they just execute what they do extremely well.
“The second thing is their coverage schemes and how they get to them is a little different than we have seen so that part of it takes a great deal of recognition, and some of that recognition has to come after the snap in order to define exactly what their schematic approach is, so it is well thought out.”