June 19, 2024

Cyclones struggling to salvage season after fifth-straight loss

Iowa State Cyclones Football

Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell greets defensive lineman Isaiah Lee on the sidelines after a play in the second quarter against Oklahoma Saturday October 29, 2022 at Jack Trice Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

AMES, Ia. — Iowa State’s 2022 campaign was dealt another blow after a double-digit home loss to Oklahoma Saturday afternoon.

The Cyclones tried to rally back, but it wasn’t enough as they exited Jack Trice Stadium with a 27-13 loss. A crowd of 58,716 left disappointed because it was Iowa State fifth-straight loss of the season. Now the Sooners have won three-straight games in the series and 22 of the last 24. Not to mention Iowa State is 0-5 in Big 12 play for the second time under Matt Campbell.

It’s mind-boggling that the Cyclones lost though, considering they had more yards, plays and first downs than the Sooners. Iowa State even averaged the same amount of yards as Oklahoma, and both teams were about even in time of possession. However, three costly turnovers proved to be the difference.

There’s no denying Campbell’s squad has a glaring weakness. The offense has been a liability this fall, especially with the rushing attack. Oklahoma’s defense held Iowa State’s offense to 66 yards on the ground, which was its’ second-lowest total this season.

In return, a lot of responsibility was placed on the shoulders of quarterback Hunter Dekkers. Although the sophomore made some nice plays with his mobility, Dekkers looked like a deer in headlights when he stayed in the pocket. The Sooners picked Dekkers off three times too. He has now thrown seven interceptions over the last five games.

Campbell knows he needs more production from the backfield to help out his young signal-caller. And until the Cyclones can fix that issue, it’s going to continue to be a problem.

“I think we are good enough to be able to run the ball with more consistency from our tailbacks, and I still think it starts there,” Campbell said. “I do think Hunter did a great job when we as about those decision-making plays and they obviously wanted the tailback to carry the football at times.”

Take away the Cyclones’ three turnovers and the Sooners’ fake field goal that resulted in a touchdown, the game would’ve been much closer. It’s unfortunate because Jon Heacock’s defense performed well enough to win the game. The Cyclones’ defense held the Sooners’ offense to 332 yards, which was their second-lowest output of the year. Campbell is proud of his defenders, especially cornerback T.J. Tampa, who led the team with seven solo tackles.

“That was probably the best game I have ever seen T.J. Tampa play,” he said. “Play after play after play, he was able to make and show, that was the final path for him to become what we think is an elite football player.”

Even after Saturday’s outing, Iowa State is still first in the Big 12 and 12th in the FBS in total defense. The unit can only do so much though. Defenders who stay on the field for too many plays, become fatigued by the fourth quarter. And it seems like the rest of the Big 12 has caught onto this.

So it’s no surprise the key to Iowa State’s weakness is to wear down its’ defense. Still, Campbell is confident his defense has what it takes to carry the team to the finish line the rest of the way.

“The entirety of that secondary did a great job,” the 42-year old coach said. “Hats off, our defense gave us every chance to stay in the football game, and win that football game.”

Iowa State (3-5) will have to win three of its’ next four games in order to keep its’ bowl streak alive. There’s still a lot of football left to be played, and two of the next three contests are at home. As of now it’s back to the drawing board for Campbell, his staff and his players.