AMES — No heads down.
That’s how ISU’s players — those the media had access to, anyway — carried themselves in the aftermath of Saturday’s 34-14 season-opening loss to North Dakota State.
They also vowed it won’t set a trend — and it better not, with Kansas State looming next Saturday.
“We’re all disappointed about it but there’s going to be a lot of improvement you guys are going to see this next week,” said senior linebacker Jevohn Miller, who had nine tackles and a pass breakup in the defeat.
Miller was speaking for the defense, which surrendered 503 total yards, including 299 on the ground.
The same optimistic sentiment’s permeating the offense, too, though.
“We’ve just got to stay strong,” said running back DeVondrick Nealy, who caught five passes for 26 yards. “Stay faithful knowing we can bounce back. We come back with a win (against) K-State, it’s back to a new season.”
That certainly sounds good to Cyclone fans — 54,800 of whom (with a lot of Bison supporters mixed in) formed another sellout crowd.
“The stands were packed and everybody was rocking,” defensive end Cory Morrissey said. “We appreciate that.”
Now, the task becomes restoring winning ways for a fan base that left Jack Trice Stadium shaking their heads, if not fists.
“We put what we did on the table,” Morrissey said when asked about such fans. “They have reason. You do what you do.”
STREET CLOTHES: Wide receivers D’Vario Montgomery and Tad Ecby wore sweat pants Saturday. “Violation of team policies,” Rhoads noted. “(Out) just this game.”
MOVING TARGET: Rhoads went to both knees to plead his case for freshman safety Kamari Cotton-Moya, who was called for targeting and ejected from the game on NDSU’s fourth play of its first drive. Officials reviewed, then upheld, the ruling.
“When a ball carrier, when a player is in a position to run the ball or catch the ball, or he’s in a crouched position, that area where they want you to hit is taken away from the defensive players,” Rhoads said about his points of contention with the call. “There’s no other way to contact a guy like that. That was my argument. it s a point of emphasis in college football and it should be a point of emphasis in college football — to take care of the welfare of the players, to avoid hits to the head, unnecessary hits to the head. This is one that was unavoidable in my opinion.”
“GOOD, NOT GREAT”: The first player Rhoads mentioned in the post game news conference was freshman punter Colin Downing. “We’ve got a good punter as a freshman,” Rhoads said. “I’m proud to see him step up as the young man he is and have that kind of first outing in Jack Trice Stadium.”
Downing punted six times, averaging 45.7 yards per boot.
Rhoads described his day as “good, not great,” because on a couple of shorter-than-desired ones.
TURNING POINT? Bison coach Chris Klieman said running back John Crockett’s 80-yard run that cut ISU’s lead from 14-0 to 14-7 served that purpose.
“He made a great cut and outran everybody,” Klieman said. “I think that gave the (NDSU) defense a little life and got them thinking, ‘If we can go out there and get a stop, we might be able to get this thing tied.’ If we wouldn’t have got that play, things could have been a lot different at half.”