Even after a 45 point shutout, Iowa State still wants to reach its full potential

Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy prepares to throw the ball against the Kansas State defense during the Cyclones and the Wildcats game Nov. 21 at Jack Trice Stadium.

Matt Belinson

Looking at the boxscore after No. 17 Iowa State’s 45-0 win over Kansas State on Saturday, the numbers don’t lie.

Iowa State did put up 539 total yards of offense, the most it had all season, compared to Kansas State’s 149 yards. Brock Purdy had a major bounce-back from his first half struggles against Baylor two weeks ago. Breece Hall rushed for over 100 yards for the eighth straight game on just 15 carries. And outside of individual performances, it was Iowa State’s second largest margin of victory over the Wildcats since it won 48-0 in 1943.

But even after a 45-0 shutout of Kansas State, Iowa State doesn’t want to buy into what the stats say and how many points it scored, instead, it still believes it hasn’t reached its full potential, not yet.

Head Coach Matt Campbell said that for any team that wants to get better, having tough challenges in the month of November and beyond are the best opportunities you’ll get to find out who your team really is.

Especially in a year dominated by COVID-19 cancellations and postponements, Campbell said the easiest way to tell if a team is good or not is simple: are they getting better week-to-week?

Campbell said Iowa State is on that track, but wasn’t ready to say Saturday’s dominating win was the best Iowa State has to show.

It was clear that Campbell’s belief that his team still has a lot of growth left in it, even after being asked if Saturday’s performance was as close to perfect as this team can get.

His answer?

“Well we took a positive step,” Campbell said.

And with two games left to control its own destiny toward the Big 12 Championship, Campbell said Iowa State has to demand even more of itself with only two games left that the Cyclones are guaranteed to have. 

“There’s 14 days left in the college football season that are guaranteed to us and we’re going to find out a lot about those challenges,” Campbell said.

Junior college transfer Xavier Hutchinson, who had himself a career high 111 receiving yards on Saturday, said it’s Campbell’s consistent message that makes the team truly feel it always has another level to reach.

It starts with coaching, but in the end Hutchinson said the seniors on the team have continued to preach the same message week after week. There’s always room to get better, no matter if it’s a 40 point win or a last-second loss.

When asked if the win over the Wildcats was the best Iowa State has played yet, Hutchinson admitted he felt it was, but once again showed how quickly the team has the mindset of moving on to the next challenge.

“Yes sir I think it was,” Hutchinson said. “I think that was probably the best we’ve played and the great part is we can still play a lot better so we still have a lot more room for growth and I’m just really excited to see us really reach that full-full potential.”

One of those impactful seniors has been offensive lineman Sean Foster. As a redshirt senior, Foster has seen the highs and lows that Iowa State has been through, but said this year’s team has finally bought in more than ever before.

And even though Iowa State is closer to reaching the Big 12 Championship than recent memory, Foster said the attitude of wanting more has been within the program since he first arrived.

Only now is the buy-in starting to be accepted by everyone.

“That mindset has been with us ever since I’ve been here and it’s like we have to work harder than everyone no matter well we’re doing, no matter how bad we’re doing because we know at the end of the day we’re working hard that just gives us an opportunity,” Foster said.

“Having an opportunity tonight to have a 45-0 win, yes, that’s huge win for us, we’re gonna celebrate how it is but tomorrow we know we got a big opponent in Texas next week.”