Notebook: Campbell and Hall pick up the pieces after a tough loss

Iowa State defensive back Anthony Johnson Jr. defends Oklahoma State wide receiver Tylan Wallace in the end zone during the Cyclones and Cowboys game Oct. 24 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. 

Zane Douglas

It isn’t Iowa State Head Coach Matt Campbell’s style to hang his head after a loss, so after the 24-21 defeat to the hands of No. 6 Oklahoma State, the 3-2 Cyclones were looking toward future games already.

A matchup with Kansas is next, but with one of the more important matchups in recent memory for Iowa State in the rearview mirror, the next few weeks will be crucial to picking up the pieces of a season with a lot left to accomplish.

Hall’s excellence is overshadowed

Sophomore running back Breece Hall added to a good season Saturday with a career high in rushing yards.

Hall amassed 185 yards on 20 carries and added a touchdown on a 66-yard bounce-it-outside sprint.

Success has been around every corner for the sophomore, and he was recognized for it as he was named Big 12 Co-Offensive Player of the Week.

Hall’s accolades aren’t the only measure of his success as the second-year back is second to only Sincere McCormick in rushing yards with 716, first in rushing yards per game with 143.2 and third in rushing touchdowns with nine behind Alabama’s Najee Harris and North Carolina’s Javonte Williams.

“I just come out each and every week and try to play as hard as I can and do what I gotta do to put our offense in a good spot,” Hall said. “… I wouldn’t say it’s a surprise, but I’ve been happy with some of the results.”

It has been especially helpful to the Cyclones with junior quarterback Brock Purdy playing worse than he did in 2019 coupled with suspect pass protection from the offensive line.

Defense continues to shine

While the game against the Cowboys ended with a loss and 24 points given up, the Cyclones defense played well.

The score doesn’t tell the whole story for the game. Iowa State’s defense was given bad situations or short breaks due to a struggling Cyclone offense, and Oklahoma State took advantage when it could, but there were a few key stops and two big interceptions that kept the game close.

The first was a ball that was tipped by redshirt senior safety Greg Eisworth and fell into the hands of junior linebacker Mike Rose.

“For Mike, the kind of year that he’s having in general is really special, and I really do believe it goes back to his offseason,” Campbell said. “… He’s one of those guys that you knew was doing everything and more to prepare himself for the college football season.”

The second interception came right after a Purdy interception. Redshirt senior safety Lawrence White IV broke on a poor throw from Cowboy quarterback Spencer Sanders and picked him off to shift momentum back in Iowa State’s favor.

The Cyclone defense has been put in some tough situations throughout the year, and it was no different Saturday as the offense was dominated by a good Oklahoma State pass rush, secondary and linebacking core.

Easier road ahead

While Cyclone players and coaches will tell you there is nothing easy about playing Kansas, it will still be easier competition than a top-10 team in the country.

The Jayhawks are perennially near the bottom of the Big 12, and this year is no different. Kansas is 0-5 and has given up at least 38 points in all of its games.

“Every team will have players that are doing good things,” Rose said. “We’ll go into it as any normal week.”

Though they’re not willing to count them out, this Cyclone team has needed an offensive jolt, and a game against this Jayhawk defense could be just what they’re looking for.

After they face Kansas, they get Baylor, who has fallen since last season and the departure of previous Head Coach Matt Rhule. The Bears are 1-2 and have lost to West Virginia and Texas in conference play.

After that is a tough challenge against Kansas State at home, but the Cyclones will play teams that at least for now are under .500 until Nov. 21.