NOTEBOOK: Despite loss, ISU shows improvement in all areas


Blake Lanser/Iowa State Daily

ISU wide receiver Jarvis West rolls into the end zone during the Sept. 6 matchup with Kansas State at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones fell to the Wildcats with a final score of 32-28.

Alex Gookin

The ISU defense gave up 471 yards and 32 points to Kansas State, but the improvements from the first to second week of the season were more than the numbers indicated.

Iowa State’s defense started the game as flat as it finished the game against North Dakota State. Kansas State did whatever it wanted as it trotted down the field in five plays for the first touchdown.

Then, a switch flipped. The Cyclones started holding the Wildcats to field goals. Then they started forcing punts and three-and-outs. Then, there was a fourth-and-1 stop and, suddenly, the defense looked like they were in control of the game.

“We were having a lot more fun on the field,” said linebacker Jevohn Miller. “It’s one thing we talked about in our player meeting and we just played with a lot more energy.”

The energy was apparent, and with players and coaches — most notably a fist-pumping Paul Rhoads — celebrating a crucial fourth down stop, there was no question the team was having fun.

“We stressed we should fly around and have fun,” said defensive end Cory Morrissey. “Just celebrate plays and go make plays, and that’s what we did.”

Morrissey himself had a few celebratory moments, none bigger or more satisfying than sacking his former community college teammate, Jake Waters. 

“I had some words for him when I sacked him,” Morrissey said with a smile. “I was just saying hello.”

Jarvis West can do anything

There was no doubting Jarvis West’s play-making ability heading into the season, but no one expected the stat line he produced against Kansas State. 

A career-high eight receptions, a receiving touchdown, a punt return for a touchdown and a passing touchdown wrapped up one of the most diverse stat lines in recent ISU history.

His first touchdown catch gave the Cyclones life after going down 13-0 in the first quarter, but his 82-yard punt return revived an ISU crowd that hasn’t had much to cheer for in Jack Trice Stadium in the past two seasons.

However, he saved his biggest play for last. West, who played as quarterback sometimes in high school, took a reverse from DeVondrick Nealy and faked a run before throwing a sailing tight spiral to an open Allen Lazard at the back of the end zone.

“We practiced it all week and I was ready when we called it,” West said. “I saw Lazard and I just threw it.”

The play opened up a 28-13 lead for the Cyclones and sent the sellout crowd of 54,800 into a frenzy. The small 5-foot-7-inch receiver and return specialist contributed in a big way for the Cyclones, but he said to expect big things out of other players as they try to fill the void of injured leader Quenton Bundrage.

“It can be me, but we also have other people,” West said. “We have Lazard, we have Dondre Daley, we have a lot of people that can fill that missing piece that Q [Bundrage] left.”