Becoming the starting quarterback and all that comes with it hasn’t been as easy as it’s looked for Iowa State senior walk-on Kyle Kempt, but he’s always been prepared and wouldn’t trade the opportunity for anything.
“With school and becoming the starter, it has been difficult,” said Kempt, 2-0 since becoming the starter and leading the Cyclones to a shocking 38-31 upset of then-No.3 Oklahoma in Norman to claim the program’s first win over a top-five team on the road. That was followed by a 45-0 blowout of Kansas last week.
“I’m a computer science major,” Kempt said. “It’s a really difficult degree but the one thing I’m grateful for is that I have really good habits and I attribute that to being a student-athlete. [Iowa State] coach [Matt] Campbell talks to us every day about trusting the process. If I didn’t have good habits, I would be a complete mess.”
The 4-2 Cyclones are in a five-way tie for second place in the Big 12 at 2-1. Saturday they play Texas Tech (4-2, 1-2) in Lubbock, a difficult place for opponents to say the least. And leading his team to a win there will be a challenge, but again, Kempt has a handle on challenges and he proved it the week of the OU game when he learned he would be the next guy up after starter Jacob Park abruptly took a leave of absence, reportedly for personal health reasons.
“That week I had a midterm,” Kempt said. “I had a project due on Friday. I was battling a mini-cold at the same time. It was an insane week … but I embrace that student-athlete role to the T. I think my GPA … I’m at 3.09 or 3.11, something like that. That’s the toughest thing. It’s a lot of work for both.”
Kempt spent two years at Oregon State on scholarship and didn’t play and another at Hutchinson (Kan.) Junior College where he didn’t get on the field. He smashed all kinds of records to become the all-time leading passer at Washington High in Massillon, Ohio. He committed to Butch Jones at Cincinnati, but Jones left for Tennessee. Kempt left the Beavers’ program when Mike Riley left for Nebraska.
“I just thought if I was going to walk on, it might as well be for the guy who recruited me at Toledo and has known me since my sophomore year of high school,” Kempt said.
Kempt, primarily a controlled, safe thrower, pitched only two balls last season and completed them both for 12 yards. This year he’s 31 of 44 for 465 yards and four touchdowns and two victories, one of the biggest in school history being one of them.
“I’ll be able to look back on it after the season, but right now, I’m really focused on Tech,” Kempt said. “But in the back of my mind at the end of the season when I get a chance to reflect on it, it will be special. But our whole team played such a great game, offense, defense, special teams, and just stuck to it and we want to stick to it for the rest of the season. It’s given our team a lot of confidence and really a schematic to build off of for the rest of the season.”
Tech’s next. Kempt won’t sneak up on them like he did the Sooners.
“We’re just preparing for a good Texas Tech team; they’re 4-2, it’s on the road and I know people have said it’s a tough place, but we’ve got to control what we can control. Offensively we have to execute our game plan, defensively and special teams. I’m not looking at what others say or how they view me. It’s not really a big deal to me. I just need to focus on my part, what I can do to help put our team in the best position to win based on what the coaches are asking to do on a weekly basis.”
There’s nothing like honesty. And boy, did New Haven Chargers coach Chris Pincince drop some this week.
His team is 5-1, 4-1 in the Northeast-10, with a golden opportunity playing at first-place and undefeated Assumption (6-0, 5-0) in Worcester Saturday afternoon .
“We still keep making too many mistakes in all three phases,” Pincince said of a roster that includes 48 new players. “We’re still going through things for the first time.”
The Chargers are a missed field goal in the -final seconds away from being undefeated, losing to last year’s NE-10 champ, LIU Post, 35-34 in Week 2 at home.
“We came in very young, very inexperienced, so each one of these players has played a little more as time goes on and some of those guys have stepped up,” the fourth-year coach said. “Defensively we’ve played a lot of different people due to injury, and some of those who made plays for us in the beginning are no longer with us and some of those guys have had to step up. It’s an experience thing. I hope we have enough to go into a game like this and make one more play than them. Each week has been different. I’m not sure what to expect.”
New Haven has shown one important constant: toughness, on offense, defense and special teams. That’s what’s leading the Chargers to wins more than anything else, Pincince said.
“Practice-wise, they come out and work and game-wise, I would challenge anybody to say our guys don’t play as hard or harder than anybody in the country at our level of football,” Pincince said.
Did you know Central Connecticut, winners of four in a row, is in a four-way tie for first place in the Northeast Conference? At 4-3, 2-0 in the league, the Blue Devils are sitting in the best position they’ve been in at this point in the season in seven years, when they last shared a piece of the conference title.
How they do against Bryant (2-4, 0-1) could be telling because Central had not won four in a row previously since 2010. The Bulldogs have owned the Blue Devils, winning four of their last five meetings, including 45-25 last year.
The Blue Devils are getting it done with a high-octane offense which has outscored opponents 130-65 in three home games, not to mention a thirsty defense that has returned seven interceptions for touchdowns in the last 17 games and at least one in each of the last four. … Wesleyan plays at Amherst Saturday. Both teams are 4-1. Winning the conference title will be difficult with two losses.