IOWA CITY — Walk off the space between the wall that separates fans at Kinnick Stadium to the field and you might count 10 if you’re a 6-footer.
Now, put fully geared major-college football players, anywhere from 65 to 110 of them, between that wall and the field. Claustrophobic doesn’t begin to describe it. That space, such as it is, prompted a joke from Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads this week.
He was asked how he could prepare his team for the crunch of the Kinnick sideline.
“We bring strangers in off the street and let them stand there along sideline because that’s about what it’s like when you’re down there trying to make adjustments and changes,” Rhoads said.
Iowa and Oklahoma lead the nation in claustrophobic sideline. By the way, the players can hear you.
“The fans play into it,” linebacker A.J. Klein said. “Being at Kinnick, right in front of the student section for us, people get heckled and get caught up in the game that’s off the field in the stands. That’s the nature of the game and the nature of this rivalry and what’s at stake for the Cy-Hawk Trophy.”
ISU noseguard Jake McDonough can do without the closeness.
“Every time you’re out there, they’re yelling at you, screaming at you, calling your number out,” he said. “They always have something to say.”
Rhoads said ISU would practice with crowd noise piped in later in the week.
“We’ll do it for the offense, to make sure the exchange is taking place and trying to negate any false starts we might have,” he said. “And we’ve got new speakers, so hopefully we’ll be able to take advantage of that.”
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