AMES, Iowa -- New coach Matt Campbell has brought nothing but excitement to Iowa State in the eight months since he took over.The long-suffering supporters of Iowa State will begin to see this weekend if its worth all the fuss.The Cyclones (3-9 in 2015) will kick off a new era Saturday when Campbell, at 36 the youngest Power Five coach, leads them out against FCS rival Northern Iowa. Campbells latest new idea will be to replace Deep Purples Smoke on the Water, the Cyclones entrance song for years, with something more modern.None of it will matter if Iowa State loses -- and thats certainly a possibility.The Panthers have beaten the Cyclones five times, most recently in 2013. Theyre ranked No. 5 in the FCS, and Aaron Bailey is considered one of the best quarterbacks in the subdivision.UNI coach Mark Farley has a very talented football team coming back, led by a dynamic quarterback and then some really dynamic defensive players, Campbell said.Here are some keys to consider as Iowa State and Northern Iowa, separated by just 100 miles, prepare to open the season:WARREN TIMEIf the Cyclones inexperienced line can gel, sophomore running back Mike Warren could emerge as one of the nations breakout stars in 2016. Warren led all freshmen in rushing yards last season with 1,337 despite essentially playing just 10 games. But Iowa State is also prepared to go with a pair of true freshmen, David Montgomery and Kene Nwangwu, when Warren needs a rest. You tell every one of your kids, `Make me play you. And those two guys have made me play them, Campbell said.SCOUTING THE PANTHERSBailey led the Panthers with 1,334 yards rushing and 19 TDs. But he averaged less than 120 yards per game passing, and Iowa States secondary is perhaps its strength defensively. Northern Iowas defense should be strong after allowing less than 20 points a game in 2015, but the Cyclones have a pair of high-quality Big 12 skill position players in Warren and receiver Allen Lazard. I know what we are. I know what we can be. I just dont know what we are today, Farley said Monday.THAT LINE THOUGHIowa States offensive line is brand new -- and thats typically bad news for an offense. Graduations, defections and injuries decimated the Cyclones line, leaving the unit to a group of veteran backups thrust into starting jobs for the first time. Minnesota graduate transfer Brian Bobek, a center, started five games for the Gophers last year, making him the senior statesman for Iowa States most troubling position group. I have absolutely no worries. Well be fine, quarterback Joel Lanning said about his blockers.CYCLONES DEFENSEIowa State has 10 players with starting experience on defense, including Big 12 defensive newcomer of the year Demond Tucker, safety Kamari Cotton-Moya and cornerback Brian Peavy. But Peavy was the second freshman defensive back to lead the Cyclones in tackles in 2015, and thats not exactly a good sign. The job of fixing the unit has fallen to veteran defensive coordinator Jon Heacock, who helped Toledo lead the MAC in scoring defense last year.THOSE PESKY PANTHERSNorthern Iowa ruined former coach Gene Chiziks debut, pounding the Cyclones 24-13 in 2007. The Panthers terrified Iowa State in 2011, losing just 20-19, and three years ago they rolled to a 28-20 win. The Cyclones did dominate Northern Iowa last year, thumping their rivals 31-7. 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WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Drew Brees was patient and non-confrontational while fielding repeated questions about why he and the New Orleans Saints werent able to negotiate a contract extension before Thursdays opening training camp practice.If anything, the star quarterback became testier when the subject of rookie safetys interception came up.Standing nearby, one of Brees oldest teammates, right tackle Zach Strief, hardly seemed surprised.Look, hes a highly competitive and highly professional guy that is way more worried about the fact he threw an interception in seven-on-seven than he is about a contract right now, Strief said. Thats just how Drew is. ... Everything he does is like, unbelievably focused. Hes like a weirdo.And that, Strief said, is why the Saints shouldnt worry about Brees ability to compartmentalize the uncertainty that arises for any pro athlete in the last year of a contract.Around the NFL and in New Orleans in particular, many seem puzzled by the fact that the Saints havent been able to nail down a new, long-term deal with their franchise quarterback, who has passed for 48,555 yards and 348 touchdowns in 10 seasons with the club -- not to mention MVP honors in New Orleans only Super Bowl triumph.After all that, and the fact that the 37-year-old Brees has repeatedly said he wants to end his career in New Orleans, shouldnt an extension have been easier to hammer out?I would hope so, but I also know that sometimes these take time, Brees said, stressing that nothing is adversarial.Ive got a great relationship with (general manager) Mickey Loomis and have for my entire time here, Brees continued. Theres a process to this and its not an exact science.Brees has stated that once the regular season begins, he intends to cut off negotiations because he doesnt want his contract status to distract him from preparing for a game.He took the same approach in 2011, which was not without risk because an injury could have undermined his value going forward. Instead, Brees passed for what was then an NFL record 5,476 yards to go with 46 touchdowns, which ultimately earned him a five-year, $100 million contract that, in 2012, was the richest deal in the NFL.My mindset is the same whether Ive got a one-year deal or a five-year deal, Brees said. Each and every week, Ive got to go out and Ive got to prove it. Ive got to prove thatt I give us the best chance to win.dddddddddddd. Ive got to prove that Im a leader on the team thats going to get the best out of everybody around me and myself.Coach Sean Payton dismissed the notion that Brees contract status would overshadow the clubs preparations.That is something that cannot be the focus of what were doing, Payton said. Thats the one element that Im sure will take care of itself.Added Loomis, Lots of players play into the last year of their contract. It happened the last time with us. Its not our preference, but it happens. Nothing unusual here.Loomis added that Brees is paid like an elite QB and the Saints expect to do that.Strief said he cannot fathom Brees finishing his career elsewhere, but understands that when a contract is of the magnitude an elite player like Brees commands, the details can take longer to iron out.I could have signed my deal with Mickey in five minutes, Strief said. Its just not that type of situation with Brees.Brees has declined to get into specifics about sticking points in negotiations, saying he wants to keep that between his agent, Tom Condon, and Loomis, who also wont discuss details of negotiations.But Brees, who led the NFL in passing last season, seemed eager to discuss a possible divergence between what he called an old-school way of thinking about quarterback longevity and how he sees his own longevity in light of evolving science pertaining to training and nutrition.I dont see any reason why I cant play at the highest level for the next five years, minimum, Brees asserted.As the quarterback later wrapped up his interview session, discussion turned to second-round draft choice Vonn Bells interception of a deep pass Brees intended for Brandin Cooks during practice.Good for him, Brees said. That wont happen again.Game notes LT Terron Armstead and CB Keenan Lewis have opened training camp on the physically unable to perform list. The Saints may take them off the list at any time during preseason, at which point they would be permitted to return to practice. If they remain on the PUP list when preseason ends, they must sit out at least the first six weeks of the season.---AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/AP-NFL ' ' '