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Cyclones back to work after upset of Iowa


Posted: September 17, 2007


AMES, Iowa (AP) -- Even Iowa State's most die-hard supporters are still wondering how the same Cyclones team that lost to Northern Iowa could turn around and stun Iowa a week later.
It's not much of a mystery to Cyclones coach Gene Chizik. Iowa State took care of the football and, for the first time this season, played physical enough to win.
The Cyclones (1-2) will try to build off the strides it made against the Hawkeyes when they face Toledo Saturday in their first road game.
"I thought we got better as a total team on Saturday because we did not turn the ball over and we tried to play more physical," Chizik said. "I think those are the two things that can really carry you a long way."
Iowa State did turn the ball over once, on a fumble by Bret Meyer, and it led to Iowa's only touchdown. Still, it was a far cry from the Cyclones' first two games, when they turned it over seven times and were outscored 17-0 in points off takeaways.
The mistakes that contributed to Iowa State's 0-2 start led to a renewed emphasis on protecting the ball in practice last week.
"We have to treat the ball like it's our family. We have 100-some people in that ball and we have to keep it to ourselves. We can't let anybody else get it," wide receiver R.J. Sumrall said.
Iowa State's offense didn't find the end zone, but the Cyclones were able to move the ball well enough to post their first win without a touchdown in 59 years. Iowa State gave the Hawkeyes a variety of looks on offense -- including some five-receiver sets the Cyclones had barely used up to that point -- and its makeshift offensive line kept Iowa's talented defensive front away from Meyer.
The Hawkeyes didn't sack Meyer once. In fact, Meyer has been brought down in the pocket just twice in three games, after taking a staggering 77 sacks in 2005 and 2006.
"We just took it personal," redshirt freshman tackle Ben Lamaak said. "Iowa thought they were going to come in and maybe beat us up, but we understood that we had to play physical up front and I thought we did that, and we came out with the win."
Iowa State also looks like it's found a keeper in true freshman Phillip Bates, whose 38-yard catch late in the fourth quarter set up Bret Culbertson's game-winning field goal.
The Omaha, Neb. product had never played wide receiver until he arrived at Iowa State, and he's still listed as the Cyclones third-string quarterback. But Bates' athleticism has forced Iowa State's coaching staff to find ways to get him on the field.
Chizik said Monday that, besides his work at quarterback and wideout, Bates might help the Cyclones in the return game down the line.
"He's a playmaker," Chizik said. "We think he's got a great future."
Iowa State has a long way to go in its rebuilding efforts following last season's dismal campaign, but the Cyclones cleared its first major hurdle by beating Iowa.
Sumrall believes the win should help reinforce the belief that what Iowa State's coaches are telling the players can lead to success. "We found more confidence in ourselves and the scheme," Sumrall said. "The win just told us that it can be done."