NOTEBOOK: ISU football looks to move past opening loss; punter Colin Downing impresses coaches


Kelby Wingert/Iowa State Daily

Freshman punter Colin Downing punts the ball during the game against North Dakota State on Aug. 30 at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones fell to the Bison 14-34. Downing punted for 274 yards during the game.

Alex Gookin

In the world of Big 12 football, a loss to a Football Championship Subdivision team is like Goliath losing to David. For Iowa State, FCS teams have started looking less like David and more like Goliath.

After falling to Northern Iowa in last year’s season opener, Iowa State was determined to not look past three-time defending FCS champions North Dakota State. Coaches, players and fans were all prepared for an NDSU team that is notorious for upsetting Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

But the Bison did it again and the Cyclones lost 34-14. 

Listen to the latest podcast from the sports desk here as it takes a closer look into Aug. 30’s loss.

The 20-point loss was no fluke as North Dakota State came out and played its signature style of football and knocked Iowa State down. Now sitting at 0-1 with their first Big 12 matchup less than a week away, the Cyclones have to erase what happened against the Bison from their minds and start over.

“There’s going to be a lot of improvement that you guys are going to see over the next week going into the next game,” said linebacker Jevohn Miller. “We just can’t get our heads down.”

That sentiment was repeated by teammates Cory Morrissey, DeVondrick Nealy, Aaron Wimberly and more. It was what kept the Cyclones from being more successful last season, as players admitted losing to Northern Iowa set the tone for the year.

With 11 more games on the schedule and a ranked Kansas State squad on deck, the Cyclones will have their opportunities to right the ship.

Downing impresses

Freshman punter Colin Downing made his ISU debut against North Dakota State and impressed head coach Paul Rhoads.

“We’ve got a good punter,” Rhoads said. “Proud to see him step up as young as he is and have that kind of first outing here at Jack Trice Stadium.”

The true freshman, a former hockey player out of Minnesota, was asked to fill the shoes of four-year starter Kirby Van Der Kamp. With averages of 45.7 yards per punt and boots of 50-, 51- and 56-yards, the young punter has started his career on the right foot.

Although it is not ideal for the punter to be the team’s player of the game, Downing provided a cushion for the defense while the offense struggled to get anything going in the second half. Despite what position he is put in, Downing showed that he is capable of being a weapon for the Cyclones when needed.

Bundrage out for season

ISU fans’ worst nightmare came true when Paul Rhoads announced Sept. 1 that top wide receiver Quenton Bundrage suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and will miss the rest of the season.

Bundrage went down only four plays into the game while blocking on an Aaron Wimberly run. Bundrage was able to walk off the field on his own power, but Rhoads said he was in a lot of pain after the game.

However, Rhoads also reiterated that the receiving corps is the deepest position on the team and freshman Allen Lazard will start in Bundrage’s place, followed by transfer D’Vario Montgomery.

“We will gain back Tad Ecby and D’Vario Montgomery, [who were suspended for the NDSU game,] for this game,” Rhoads said. “Their added depth helps that crew, but we have guys there. It is time for them to step up and perform with the loss of [Bundrage].”

In some positive news, center Tom Farniok is expected to be ready to play against Kansas State after spraining his medial collateral ligament in the first half against North Dakota State. Rhoads said he doesn’t expect it to be a nagging injury and expects him to be fully recovered after rehab.