Iowa State offense looks to right the ship against West Virginia


Jacob Rice

Wide receiver Dimitri Stanley celebrates first down catch against Oklahoma on Oct. 29.

Christian Royston, Sports Reporter

Iowa State is still looking for its first win against a Big 12 opponent as it plays host to West Virginia on Saturday.

The Cyclones are coming off a fifth-straight heartbreaking loss, as Oklahoma got the better of them in Ames over the weekend. Similar issues came around again as the Cyclones struggled to get things moving on offense.

Iowa State offensive coordinator Tom Manning reiterated what head coach Matt Campbell has been preaching after every loss. Consistency wins or loses football games.

“The inconsistency,”  Manning said. “Being able to consistently do the same thing and play at a good level for 60 minutes. That’s where we’re battling a little bit right now.”

The inconsistency was on display against Oklahoma, as the run game stalled and the passing game was hot and cold. Quarterback Hunter Dekkers looked to be comfortable and confident with the challenge as he began to lead a fourth-quarter comeback.

Of course, turnovers hurt the team in past losses, and the same thing played out in the most recent loss. Dekkers threw two picks late in the game, sealing the deal on another loss.

“It hasn’t gone maybe the way that we wanted it to go, but from an attitude and effort standpoint, certainly it’s where we believe that it should be,” Manning said.

After every loss, the team doesn’t let it get them down. Campbell and company still have high hopes for the team, even if the season hasn’t gone as expected.

The effort the Cyclones showed in each game this season is promising for the future. West Virginia’s defense has gotten off to a rocky start, which gives Iowa State a chance to show off the effort being preached.

No part of the team demonstrates the attitude and effort that bring Campbell pride like the defense. Iowa State’s defense has kept games close in each of the losses and will be looking to do the same against the Mountaineers.

“I think there’s a lot still left out there, to be honest,” Iowa State defensive coordinator Jon Heacock said. “We are doing some really good stuff. We’re playing good enough to win and good enough to not win.”

Heacock, along with the rest of the defensive players, has high standards for the defense. Everyone on the team knows what they are capable of and know that there’s always room for improvement.

“We left plays out there,” Heacock said about the defense’s performance against Oklahoma. “We are playing good defense. We’re not playing great defense.”

Although Iowa State still tops the Big 12 in most defensive categories, there are still improvements that could be made. Week after week, opposing offenses are able to have a few big plays that end up making a difference.

In the loss to Oklahoma, Iowa State’s defense had been playing picture-perfect all day. The Cyclones prevented a touchdown to set up an Oklahoma field goal attempt. Or so they thought.

Oklahoma faked the field goal and walked the ball in for a touchdown. Big plays such as that are still developing in every loss. When games come down to one or two plays, every inch matters in determining the victor.

Great defenses don’t let big plays develop. West Virginia’s offense has shown that it can hang with the big dogs in the Big 12, so Iowa State’s defense will have to be great on Saturday.

Iowa State will take on West Virginia Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in Ames, Iowa. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.