Mills surges on depth chart
The reason for Mills’ sudden start and jump on the depth chart was simple.
“Brian Mills has been playing a lot better,” coach Paul Rhoads said. “[He’s] making plays on the field more so than Luke has been on the practice field. He’s faster, he’s more athletic and he’s finally gotten to the point where his knowledge has increased.”
Rhoads said the split between Mills and Knott was 60-40, favoring Mills, who had four tackles in the 34-31 loss to Texas Tech.
The Cyclones started the season with Jevohn Miller at weakside linebacker, but the senior was shifted to the middle after one week with Knott jumping into the starting lineup at the weakside spot. Knott held that starting role until Saturday.
Iowa State’s updated depth chart Monday had Mills ahead of Knott. Rhoads said the redshirt freshman graded out Saturday how one might expect.
“[He] graded out like a first-time starter and a redshirt freshman, meaning there was some good and some bad,” Rhoads said. “There was some deer in the headlights from him in his play when he came off onto the sideline. He has been playing very fast and focused and fitting things very well on the practice field. Better than he did on Saturday, but that was no surprise.
“All in all [it was] good to have him out on the field, and look for a good split between those two in the next two games.”
Cyclones continue to battle injuries
The injuries for defensive lineman Brandon Jensen have been on-and-off this season, and his current status is day-to-day with an ankle injury.
Rhoads said Monday, whether Jensen, a redshirt senior, contributes in the final two weeks will be up to him and how much pain he can handle. The high ankle sprain, confirmed by an MRI, has made it difficult for Jensen to put weight on his ankle and push off it.
“He’s tried to practice through and he’s been very admirable through that,” Rhoads said. “He treats it twice a day and he opens the door for the trainers when they come in. He’s doing everything he can to get himself back on the field, but if he can’t put weight and pressure to push off it, he can’t go.”
The Iowa State offense is dealing with injuries to both tight end E.J. Bibbs and receiver D’Vario Montgomery. Montgomery is expected to play after leaving Saturday early while Bibbs continues to deal with an undisclosed injury to his right leg after getting hit Saturday.