I’m not sure how much fans care about this stuff but at this point in time regarding the Iowa State football program, anything that has to do with building a winning culture is a big deal.
After a devastating loss – specifically Iowa State going down to UNI 25-20 in Saturday night’s season opener – how does the program handle it? How do the players react? What message does the new, young head coach send to the most loyal fan base in college football?
In his postgame press conference, I don’t believe that Matt Campbell could have been more impressive.
Two quotes stood out to me, this one specifically.
“We have to do a great job in understanding that this is a really special place to play college football. The environment and the fan base and the people that come out week in and week out, there has to be a point in time where we draw the line and quit disappointing them. That’s my mission. That’s my goal.”
That’s a guy who gets it.
Iowa State has won eight games in the last three years but did you see Jack Trice before that game? There was cardinal and gold everywhere and the optimism regarding the future of this program was at an all-time high.
After a gut-wrenching loss, Campbell’s sentiment toward the fans could not have been better timed either. (I had multiple fans reach out to me on Twitter explaining how much that simple comment meant to them.)
Before Saturday, the majority of smart fans knew that Campbell wouldn’t turn this ship around overnight. However, losing that game (the way that ISU lost it) was unacceptable in every way, shape and form.
The floor for this team is much lower than most people expected it to be.
Respectable Big 12 programs should not lose to FCS programs.
Campbell knows that and he responded as well as any first-year head coach could have.
The current predicament
The other Campbell quote that stood out to me on Saturday night was refreshing, true and downright scary when you look forward to the rest of the season.
“We can’t just sit there and chuck the football for 60 plays and be successful.”
That’s a bit hyperbolic (Iowa State didn’t’ even run 60 plays in the game) but rings true. Iowa State’s offense had no flow on Saturday night. Iowa State only ran 53 plays (compared to UNI’s 85), with 25 of them being runs for only 77 yards (2.0 yards per rush).
Campbell’s big pitch when he got this job (which was one of the main reasons why Jamie Pollard, who was advised by the likes of Ben Bruns, Jerry Kill, Bret Bielema and Sage Rosenfels) was to run the football and dictate clock. That is the team that Iowa State wants to be.
Iowa State wasn’t that team on Saturday night and while Campbell’s analysis of the offense could not have been more accurate, I’m not exactly sure what the fix is leading up to not only the Cy-Hawk game but the reason of the season as well.
It sucks, but there isn’t a quick fix here.
Big statement coming: That might be the worst offensive line in the modern day history of Iowa State football.
It’s rivaling the Marty Fine years, no?
So what do you do?
Hopefully the return of Julian Good-Jones (Can you really call it a return when the guy has never played a snap?), which will allow Nick Fett to return to the inside of the line, will help.
But I’m not banking on it making that big of a difference though.
The best way that Iowa State can improve off of game one is to eliminate dumb penalties and turnovers. Schematically, the Cyclones will be at a disadvantage up front all season long.
This is where coaches earn their money.