The Cyclones’ backs are against the wall as they prepare to take the road for the first time this season.
After the humbling home loss to Louisiana, Iowa State has been left with more questions than answers. Not to mention the Cyclones were the only ranked Power Five team to drop out of the AP Poll after the first week of play. Now a ticked off TCU team that lost by 25 points in Ames last season, will be looking for revenge this Saturday.
Which is why Matt Campbell’s team needed the week off to regroup. Picking up the pieces means swallowing the pill of a three-game losing streak and all by double-digits for Iowa State. Campbell’s teams have a tendency of starting slow out of the gates, but perform at a high level by October.
However, the 40-year old coach has a great track record of adjusting from one game to the next. It became obvious to Cyclone fans on what the problems were after the first game. Brock Purdy’s passing accuracy, receivers dropped balls, and the defense forced no turnovers. The player even lacked enthusiasm, which isn’t the characteristics of a Campbell-coached team.
Not having All-American tight end Charlie Kolar really limited Purdy’s passing options. Kolar still isn’t back 100 percent, but Campbell will continue to monitor him day by day and evaluate if he’s gametime ready on Saturday. True sophomore running back Breece Hall continued where he left off from last season and recorded his fifth 100-yard game. Which will force opposing defenses to give Hall more attention and in return that’ll set up the play-action pass.
Purdy must get back into that groove again when he led the Big 12 in passing yards, attempts and completions. The junior quarterback hasn’t been himself over the past three games and the Cyclones’ offense has been held scoreless in the fourth quarter. Purdy has only completed 50 percent of his passes, for 552 yards, one touchdown and an interception during that span. Iowa State’s offense will miss that deep threat capability Deshaunte Jones provided.
Unfortunately until those changes are made, Big 12 defenses are going to load the box to stop Hall and force Purdy to beat them with his arm. There’s a reason why Iowa State has been held scoreless in the fourth quarter over the last three games.
Iowa State’s defense will also need to get from under the black cloud. The unit has allowed 51 second half points over the three-game losing streak. Instead of the defenders attacking, they look like they’re thinking too much and need faster reaction.
Now that the spotlight isn’t on Campbell’s team, it’ll likely work out in their favor. Leaders must emerge for Campbell during times of adversity. Regardless, the Cyclones have always thrived under the radar and they have returned to that position heading into the matchup with the Horned Frogs.
Despite losing the opener, Iowa State still has everything on the table to play for, including a Big 12 Title. Everything starts on Saturday and the Cyclones are trying to put their shortcomings in the rearview mirror.