EDITORIAL: ‘Rollercoaster’ losses hurt program as much as blowouts

Editorial Board

It had the makings of another historic upset, but it should have had seatbelts for everyone who went along for the ride.

In front of a record crowd of 56,800 — the largest ever in school history — at Jack Trice Stadium, the ISU football team had a chance to knock off then-No. 6 Kansas State to end a four-year drought to its Big 12 foe.

The Cyclones played a competitive game, but laid a proverbial six-point egg during a rollercoaster of a game that showed at times when they could have seized control and put pressure on their opponent.

The interception immediately following a fumble recovery on the muffed fair catch, the overthrown ball to Shontrelle Johnson with daylight ahead of him, the missed tackles that allowed Kansas State’s Collin Klein to run over the defense — it was a frustrating performance to watch, considering Iowa State had every shot in the world to win but didn’t.

While close losses add drama and excitement to the game, always coming up short in these types of games will only hinder the team moving forward.

“Have you ever been late to the same class three days in a row for no reason?” said running back Jeff Woody. “It’s the same feeling: it’s frustration, and it’s annoying; because you know you could have beat it and you know you could have done it right, but you just can’t go back and redo it.”

This team has proven what it can do in the midst of adversity considering its upsets of four ranked teams in the past three seasons — most notably the double-overtime win against No. 2

Oklahoma State to become bowl eligible last season. However, it has not shown the consistency that it can compete in the Big 12 week-in and week-out.

Getting over the hump for ISU football would mean beating a highly ranked Kansas State team one week after upsetting TCU and ending the nation’s longest winning streak; it would mean winning out against ranked opponents after upsetting Oklahoma State to finish the season 8-4 with a mountain of momentum heading into a bowl game.

We’ve seen what this team can do to surprise people, but that’s not enough. If it can’t win consistently and get over the hump of a 6-6 season and an appearance in the Rent-a-Car Bowl, then a change needs to be made.

We’re not suggesting that Paul Rhoads is at all on the hot seat — because, frankly, he isn’t — but retooling the offense and bringing in a quarterback that can make good decisions and consistently lead the offense would be a step in the right direction toward getting over that hump.

Jared Barnett can lead the offense, but he simply isn’t athletic enough to ever be uttered in the same sentence as “elite Big 12 quarterback.” The fact that it’s almost considered a miracle if Barnett amasses 200 yards passing — which he has only done once in his eight starts — is telling of his inability to facilitate consistency within the ISU offense.

Sam Richardson is the logical candidate among active quarterbacks to create said consistency, but not much has been said about him. Whenever Rhoads has been asked about Richardson, he’s simply said: “He’s not ready.”

Without an adequate field general to give the offense confidence in those clutch situations in the fourth quarter, the Cyclone faithful will eventually grow tired of watching their beloved team lose heartbreaker after heartbreaker.

It’s not something that should concern Rhoads and Co. just yet considering they are still in arm’s length of bowl eligibility. But in the back of their minds, they know it to be true: Some people aren’t too fond of rollercoasters.