Sep 9, 2017; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones wide receiver Allen Lazard (5) carries the ball against Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back Miles Taylor (19) at Jack Trice Stadium. The Hawkeyes won 44-41 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA
AMES — Jacob Park spoke softly, but frankly.
Iowa State’s quarterback passed for 347 yards and a career-high four touchdowns in Saturday’s 44-41 Cy-Hawk loss in overtime to Iowa.
He spoke of missed opportunities. He spoke of what lies ahead. He spoke not of disappointment, which he clearly felt, but of how much the program has grown since a humiliating 42-3 loss in Iowa City a year ago.
“Because we’re not the same team,” said Park, who also threw a fourth-quarter interception. “It shouldn’t even be a topic of discussion.”
But close losses have become so familiar for Cyclone fans — eight of the past nine games decided by a touchdown or less has ended in defeat — hearing about fixing “little things” sends some over the edge and rightfully so.
Players even tire of explaining what can be done to stop one loss from “snowballing” into another.
Star receiver Allen Lazard was asked that. His terse response?
“Win,” Lazard said.
Coach Matt Campbell said it’s what happens tonight, tomorrow and throughout next week that will determine whether obvious growth can translate into more victories.
The Cyclones travel to Akron for an 11 a.m. kick next Saturday. Bitter disappointment from today can’t bleed past this 24-hour window.
“I think you’re going to find out a whole lot about who we are next week and how we’re able to respond to this, to be honest with you,” Campbell said. “I thought our kids played as hard as they could for as long as they could, but I think you’re going to find out a lot about who Iowa State is and the Cyclones are in how we respond to this situation.”
Linebacker Joel Lanning said he’s confident ISU will swiftly turn the page — despite letting a 10-point second half lead slip away against the Hawkeyes.
“I think guys are smart enough not to do anything dumb tonight,” said Lanning, who recorded a career-best 11 tackles in Saturday’s loss. “Rest your bodies, get off your feet and get ready to come back to work tomorrow. We’ve got practice tomorrow. We’ll fix some mistakes against this team and then we’ll start watching Akron, prepare for those guys. Those guys are a good team, too, so what was it? Two years ago we went up to a MAC school and they beat us? So nothing’s given to us here. We’ve got to go earn it.”
That MAC team, Toledo, was of course then coached by Campbell. So he’s familiar with the territory, both in terms of bouncing back from adversity and the geographical location.
“Really, next week is going to be so defining for who we are and what we’re about,” Campbell said. “Can we bounce back? What decisions do we make tonight? Can we come back tomorrow ready to play the game of football and get better. That’s college football and the college football season, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
Park adopts the same view. Lazard’s one-word answer was also the appropriate one. The only acceptable fix is to “win.” It’s all about next week now, with corrections of this week’s errors making a rebound possible.
“We had it drawn up nice,” Park said of this week’s game plan. “We were taking advantage of some of the spots we thought they left open. Took advantage of it sometimes and we let some slip away. A couple dropped balls. A few drops. But overall I thought we had a good game. It wasn’t good enough but it was good.”
Star safety Kamari Cotton-Moya went down in the second half with what Campbell described as a shoulder injury.
How bad is it?
“It’s certainly not a lengthy injury,” Campbell said. “I think we’ll reevaluate afterwards, see if we have the potential to get him back next week. If not, I think sooner rather than later.”
Cotton-Moya had eight tackles before sustaining the injury. His replacement, Lawrence White, recorded three.
“I thought Lawrence White went in and did some good things,” Campbell said.
“It’s just coming back to details. Making sure that we’re crossing our t’s, dotting our i’s. We were up, what, 10 or so? Just kind of let it slip away. All we needed were a couple first downs to kind of run out the clock, but it’s a whole team thing. It’s not offense, defense, special teams. It’s everyone, one through 120 whatever it is, of just being locked in and focused all week.” — Allen Lazard