Peterson: Iowa State's problems much bigger than Joel Lanning
IOWA CITY, Ia. — And now, Iowa State football fans, we have a full-fledged Quarterback Quandary — a Quarterback Competition — or whatever you want to call it.
Does Jacob Park replace Joel Lanning during Saturday’s Big 12 Conference opener at TCU?
Will it make a difference?
It can’t hurt, because Lanning continued to be an inconsistent thrower during Saturday’s 42-3 Cy-Hawk loss at Kinnick Stadium.
But, again, does it really matter?
Iowa State’s offense is only as good as its offensive line — and that’s not good, as you know if you’ve seen either of this season’s two losses.
It’s not all on Lanning, but when stuff’s not going well, it’s usually a quarterback that’s tossed to the sidelines.
"It’s’ so early for me to tell," coach Matt Campbell said when asked about the quarterback situation. "Two weeks of the football season, and we’re still learning our football team, what we have and what we don’t have — and the reality of it, what gives us the best chance to win football games.
"We’ll figure that situation out."
Campbell has to change something in his first season as the Cyclones’ coach, and it might as well be Lanning.
He can’t change offensive lines — which is the proper thing to do at this point — but this isn’t a college football fantasy league.
You can’t substitute young and inexperienced for even younger and more inexperienced.
So switch quarterbacks and see if that changes anything, which is what Campbell did late in the third quarter, his team stuck at 42-3.
Park completed a neat sideline pass for 36 yards to Allen Lazard, and then he completed another pass to Lazard, although that one was negated because of a lineman was too far down the field.
And speaking of penalties — what Iowa State has accomplished in this department the past two games also is horrendous.
Two ineligible receiver downfield penalties within a span of about 3 minutes while trailing by 39 points? Uncalled for. So was a third with about 2 minutes to play.
Campbell gave Lanning every chance to move the offense before he’d seen enough.
Does that mean Joel has lost the starting job? Good question. Practice next week likely will determine that, but the way things are going — it won’t matter.
Therefore, Cyclones fans, continue preparing for the worst. Right now, this team isn’t as good as last season’s team. Right now, there’s not a lot of hope that anything will drastically improve.
Saturday’s loss against the 10th-ranked Hawkeyes was a second consecutive example of bad offense, this time with equal doses of faulty defense.
Fans called for Lanning’s job after the UNI loss, and finally, they got it — at least temporarily. If Jacob Park is the guy to lead the Cyclones to whatever their Promise Land is, then certainly switch for good — and switch now.
Change things up. No use being patient and waiting for the offensive line to suddenly play well. Control what you can control.
Change starting quarterbacks for Saturday’s 11 a.m. game at TCU. At this point, it can’t hurt.
But remember: Zero-and-two isn’t all Lanning’s fault.
Lanning, after all, was Iowa State’s offense during a first half the Hawkeyes led 28-3. He completed 6 of his first 11 passes for 75 yards. He was the Cyclones’ top rusher — with 18 yards.
That’s how bad this offense was and is.
It wasn’t Lanning’s doing that Iowa State had five first-half penalties for 48 yards, but he’s the leader, so it’s understandable he’s on the hot seat.
“Frustrating,” Campbell told the Cyclones radio network at intermission. “Self-inflicted wounds. Stupid penalties.”
During the second half — before Lanning’s benching — Iowa State used its offensive line, essentially, as a decoy.
Quick passes. Lanning rushes toward one side or the other.
That’s how the Cyclones attacked this Iowa team that looks to be every bit as good as the 2015 team — maybe better — that lost to Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
Lanning wasn’t great, by any means. He threw mostly on the run. He overthrew receivers. He under-threw receivers.
He deserved to be pulled. But, again, it isn’t his fault the Cyclones could be 0-3 for the first time since Dan McCarney’s 1997 team opened with six losses in a row.
It’s just easier to change starting quarterbacks than it is to change the entire starting offensive line.
And as Park said after the game:
"Either duck your head and become a loser, or step up and become a winner."
Randy Peterson, senior sports reporter, has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at RandyPete.