AMES — Right place, right time.
In Iowa State’s fast-tempo, adjust-on-the-fly spread offense, adaptability proves to be a crucial trait.
Take wide receiver Chris Young, who scored a single-game career-high two touchdowns in Saturday’s 37-3 whitewashing of Western Illinois at Jack Trice Stadium.
Young, a fifth-year senior and junior college transfer, wasn’t necessarily the top target on any of four straight catches he made in a critical touchdown drive before halftime that righted the offense and resulted in a 21-0 edge.
“I really wasn’t,” said Young, who caught seven passes for 86 yards — also a personal single-game benchmark. “It was just that they’d show one coverage presnap, and then when we snapped the ball, they’d show something else, so I just happened to get open on a couple of them.”
Make that four — all four positive plays on a 55-yard scoring drive that culminated in his five-yard touchdown grab in the back of the end zone.
“Playing like a fifth-year senior,” ISU Coach Paul Rhoads said. “When teams have good years, there are a lot of fifth-year seniors, or seniors, period, that step up. I think we’re seeing that right now with our football team on both sides of the ball.”
Stepping up has led the Cyclones to a 3-0 start for the second season in a row, and fifth time in 14 years.
Four of the previous teams to win their first three games ended up reaching bowl games.
And if ISU’s offense is to be potent enough to thrive in a high-octane Big 12 Conference, players such as Young must continue to shine when the situation serves.
“I thought he had a great game,” said Cyclone quarterback Steele Jantz, who is 6-0 in September the past two seasons. “He’s a great athlete; he’s a great receiver and I think he’s gotten to a point where he really understands why we’re doing things as an offense. That has kind of brought him a long way.”
VAN DER CLAMP:
Punter Kirby Van Der Kamp continues to drive foes deep into their own territory.
The junior from West Des Moines drilled a 59-yarder in Saturday’s win and dropped four of five boots inside the Leathernecks’ 20-yard line. He has punted 19 times this season, placing 14 inside the 20.
“You’ve got to focus on the task at hand,” Van Der Kamp said of his even-keel approach. “You can’t get too high or too low.”
Texas Tech (3-0) faces ISU Saturday, Sept. 29, in Ames. It’s the Big 12 season opener for both teams — who both are off this week. The Cyclones have averaged 46.5 points in two straight wins over the Red Raiders.
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