Iowa State offense led by a familiar face

Photo by Parker Robb | The Collegian Senior linebacker Blake Slaughter lunges for running back DeVondrick Nealy during the fourth quarter of the Wildcats' win over the Iowa State Cyclones Saturday afternoon in Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The Wildcats defeated the Cyclones 41-7 in their rivalry known as "Farmageddon."

In 2007, former Lawrence-based apparel company Joe College cashed in on a yet another new Mark Mangino t-shirt. There, printed around the face of Kansas’ wide-eyed, grinning football coach, were the words: “The Fighting Mangino’s.”

Seven years later, the man who helped lead the Jayhawks to their first and only BCS Bowl victory is still fighting as a football coach, though his current home is some 270 miles from Rock Chalk land at another Big 12 program.

Mangino, 58, joined head coach Paul Rhoads at Iowa State as the offensive coordinator this past offseason after spending a year at his alma mater, Youngstown State, in 2013.

As the Wildcats travel to Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa on Saturday, Mangino will once again coach against the man who provided him with a job at K-State for seven years from 1991-98.

That man is K-State football head coach Bill Snyder and, surprising or not, he is the one who is concerned.

“Well, it is always a concern because of certain things that he has an awareness of as it relates to your program,” Snyder said Tuesday. “Certainly, Mark (Mangino) has been a part of our offense for his tenure here. You would have some concerns about what he would be able to convey to his defensive coaches in regards to our offense”

Remnants of Mangino’s time at Kansas and K-State are present at Iowa State, according to Snyder, as well as some influence from Oklahoma where he coached under another former K-State assistant, Bob Stoops.

“There is a mixture of Iowa State previously and the University of Kansas and the things that we did here at Kansas State,” Snyder said. “It is all there and it is pretty broad based, so it is not a lot of things that we have not seen and we have an awareness of, but some of it is added on as well. You do not see all of the plays when you go back and look at the University of Kansas tape or that you did not see here or his stop at Oklahoma.”

Somewhere in that mix is one specific play that has consistently benefitted Mangino-coached teams: the running-back shovel pass. Mangino used it last Saturday in Iowa State’s 34-14 season-opening loss to North Dakota State with success on third-and-long situations where the defense elects to drop back in anticipation of a pass.

Kansas native and K-State senior linebacker Jonathan Truman knowingly grinned when asked about his knowledge of the play, and offered some insight on how the Wildcats will go about stopping it.

“We just have to play it like a screen,” Truman said. “We have to be alert for the pass, but we have to get our eyes back and see what is really going on up front. If we see those lineman release or anything, we have to get up there and stop it.”

Truman, too, took the time to praise Mangino’s play calling abilities.

“He is a great offensive mind,” Truman said. “He brings a lot. He brings a lot confidence to their offense. I just feel that he is a good (offensive) mind and that he is going to help their team out.”

The still-fighting Mangino may be less than a year into his time at Iowa State, but this K-State team recognizes the offensive brilliance he possesses and its impact in Ames.

“He is a great offensive coach and has a great offensive mind,” senior quarterback Jake Waters said. “They have a bunch of athletes. They just lost a receiver, which definitely hurts them, but they got a great receiver recruit that came in. They are going to have playmakers and they are going to move the ball on anyone. It is going to be a great challenge for our defense, but I know they are up for it and I know they are excited for it.”