ISU football’s offense continues to adjust for Oklahoma State


ISU redshirt sophomore Sam Richardson readies his offensive line during the Cyclones 31-30 loss to the Texas Longhorns on Oct. 3 at Jack Trice Stadium.

Dean Berhow-Goll

On Saturday, Oct. 26, the ISU football team returns to Jack Trice Stadium after a two-week road trip that put the team through a one-score loss and a blowout loss to Texas Tech and Baylor, both of which are now ranked in the top 10.

The last time it played a home game, the team memorably lost in the waning moments to Texas.

So how does this ISU football team move forward? It continues to adjust, much like the offensive line has this entire season.

“I don’t think you people appreciate how much of a challenge that is for a young football team to be playing with the seventh different starting offensive line,” said ISU coach Paul Rhoads. “I looked out there on Sunday, and we had a sophomore, a sophomore, a junior, a sophomore and a freshman across the board tackle to tackle.

“Not a league [where] you want to be playing those kinds of young people at those positions, but that’s what we’ve got. I certainly don’t use it as an excuse, but it’s facts and you people need to appreciate it a little bit.”

Injuries to a string of offensive linemen — Ethan Tuftee, Tom Farniok, Kyle Lichtenberg and Jamison Lalk — have forced Iowa State into reshaping and reforming one of the most important groups on the team.

And the group won’t get any breaks lining up across from Cowboy defensive lineman Calvin Barnett, who last season was named first-team All-Big 12 by the conference’s coaches.

Oklahoma State also creates turnovers in bunches with 16 this season and leading the Big 12 in the turnover margin at 1.17.

“They’re aggressive; they’re confident; if you go through and look at their starters you’re going to see a bunch of guys that have had at least two years’ worth of starts,” said ISU offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham. “You look at their inside, No. 99, the thing that we keep saying is that he never takes a play off.”

Against Baylor, the ISU offense totaled only 174 yards and one score the entire game. The previous two weeks against Texas Tech and Texas, the team tallied 774 total yards of offense and 73 points.

Messingham said since the Tulsa game on Sept. 26, he felt his offensive unit was improving but fell in a hole at Baylor.

I felt like a couple weeks ago we were taking huge strides forward,” Messgingham said. “Then I feel like we got kind of idle. And if you’re staying the same, you’re going backwards. That’s life. You’ve got to continually improve because other people are watching what you’ve put on tape. The other people are evaluating how you play and how they’re going to stop you.

“So you’ve got to continually improve and get better at your craft and the last two weeks obviously we’ve not done that and we need to do that from here on.”