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Royston: Something needs to change

Matt+Campbell+addresses+the+media+at+Iowa+State+Football+Media+Day+on+Aug.+4%2C+2023.
Tyler Coe
Matt Campbell addresses the media at Iowa State Football Media Day on Aug. 4, 2023.

Iowa State’s 10-7 loss to Ohio is unacceptable for the Cyclones.

Or at least it should be as Big 12 play starts up. The game against Ohio was the most winnable game on the upcoming schedule. 

With teams like Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas State looming in the near future, Iowa State needed to enter Big 12 play with a winning record. There are some weeks that Iowa State could squeak out wins, but if the Cyclones perform how they did against Ohio, wins are looking less and less likely.

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell and company were hyping up Ohio before the game and did mention how good Ohio quarterback Kurtis Rourke is.

Although Rourke was not spectacular, he was decent. He finished the game passing for 132 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 58 yards. 

Overall, Ohio played well, especially against a solid Iowa State defense. The Cyclones only gave up two scores on defense despite Ohio’s multitude of first downs and long drives.

You can put some blame on the special teams for Iowa State, as Chase Contreraz missed two field goals, one of which was debatably too close to call. However, those things happen. That is college football. The defense still gave the offense plenty of chances to win the game. 

The real issue came with Iowa State’s offense, which was the case last season as well. The Cyclones could not move the ball to save their lives.

When they had even a slight glimmer of hope, that was taken away immediately by the arm of Rocco Becht. Becht finished the game with two interceptions to counteract his one touchdown.

That touchdown also came late in the game in a similar situation to the loss to Iowa. It sparked something in the team but was too little too late.

Iowa State has tough competition coming up, so only having a few solid drives a game will not cut it. The Cyclones have to figure out their offense fast if they do not want to go winless in the Big 12.

Iowa State’s offense was so inefficient that it made Ohio’s defense look like defense you would see in the Big Ten. Ohio does have a solid defense, but Iowa State’s offense made it look even better.

Whether it was an ineffective run game, a breakdown of the offensive line or failure to get yards in the air, the Cyclones could not move the ball against Ohio. Those three areas are what the Cyclones lacked last season as well.

As defenses get tougher the deeper Iowa State gets into Big 12 play, those cracks on offense will get clearer. Becht is efficient, throwing for 233 yards on 17-24 passing, but his small mistakes are costly. The interception at the end of the game cut short all hopes of a comeback.

It was clear throughout the game that something needed to change on offense. That was true in the loss to Iowa too.

Becht even said it himself after the game that the team went in with the expectations of being able to play how they wanted and run away with the game. When that was not the case, the team showed its stubbornness again and did not switch things up.

I’m not saying that putting in JJ Kohl over Becht would have been the saving grace to come out with a win, but it couldn’t have hurt. Especially with the team dealing with reported food poisoning and Becht throwing up at halftime, it would make sense to put the reins in the hands of Kohl when the game was tied at 0-0.

Any sense that the team is willing to do whatever it takes and change what it needs to for a win would have been beneficial. However, the stubbornness to keep things the same way even when it’s not working is a bad sign going forward.

That stubbornness starts and ends at the top. There is no one more at blame for the loss than Campbell. It is his team, and if he wanted to make a change to shift momentum, then he could have. 

I’m not going to sit here and act like I know what is going on behind the scenes on the team, but there had to be options for Campbell to win against Ohio. With two full quarters left, there really was nothing to lose.

With Big 12 play starting up, it is clear that something needs to change. If Campbell doesn’t want that change to be him, he has to figure out what that change is sooner rather than later.

It is evident that the loss to Ohio is frustrating to everyone. The fans are frustrated. The players are frustrated. Even Campbell is frustrated.

That frustration is good.

That frustration shows that the Cyclones are not happy with the way they played. They are not content with a loss. They know they can do better.

Whatever change comes in the upcoming weeks, it will be for the better. Campbell sees the potential of the team better than everyone and knows what it is capable of.

With many winnable weeks coming up, there are chances for the Cyclones to right the ship. All they need is change.

View Comments (13)
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Comments (13)

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  • W

    William Soults | Sep 19, 2023 at 9:58 am

    Is State has one of the top ten most difficult schedules in the ncaa football this fall!

    … and we expect to do great things in a re-building year?

    Let’s support the team and the bed coach that ISU football has had in decades.

    Reply
  • D

    David Kuenzi | Sep 19, 2023 at 9:02 am

    Strange analysis from a writer who poorly researched or purposely misrepresented the facts. Food poisoning was not the issue. Norovirus hit the team. Do you have any insight into whether JJ or our other QB was impacted? The lack of a running attack is the persistent issue. Line and running backs are not performing. JJ will get his opportunity at some point, but Rocco has not been the issue.

    Reply
  • L

    Larry | Sep 19, 2023 at 5:42 am

    Head coach will be history before the season is over.

    Reply
  • G

    Greg | Sep 18, 2023 at 12:55 pm

    Go back to cardinal and gold uniforms

    Reply
  • T

    Todd | Sep 18, 2023 at 10:30 am

    Cyclones were hoping getting “the pride of Massillon” meant the next Earle Bruce. Instead, they got a reincarnation of Bob Commings! Eerily similar to the days of when Hawk fans cheered, “Go Hawks, beat somebody”.

    Reply
  • C

    CC | Sep 18, 2023 at 10:12 am

    Sounds like
    “Boohoo. I wanna win every game our formerly second team offense plays.”

    Reply
    • M

      Mark | Sep 22, 2023 at 12:01 am

      A team made up of freshman and red shirt fresh.man. returning starters all off the team for gambling. What do you expect.

      Reply
  • C

    Cory McDowall | Sep 18, 2023 at 9:38 am

    Campbell’s proven himself to be a woke loser, who coddles his team. It’ll be okay though… each and every Cyclone player will get a participation trophy at the end of the year, and a big hug from the coach.

    You’re on the Hot Seat now boy.

    Reply
  • J

    John boy | Sep 18, 2023 at 7:15 am

    Becht’s interceptions were not the problem. When receivers fall down or balls get tipped, not the qb’s fault. This writer obviously did not watch the game. Lack of a running game was clearly the issue.

    Reply
    • M

      MB | Sep 18, 2023 at 8:37 am

      ^ Rocco played well. 2 ints weren’t his fault. If they were caught his completion % would be a very solid 79%. And he was competent with his legs.
      Just another JJ Kohl obsessed (student) fan.
      Gotta get the run game figured out.

      Reply
    • .

      .ark | Sep 18, 2023 at 7:39 pm

      Where ever you want to put the offensive blame the team needs to score more points. Like it or not most of the time it’s the coach and the quarterback that take the blame.

      Reply
  • L

    Larry | Sep 18, 2023 at 3:00 am

    Take a look at the picture and Campbell’s eyes. He knows the jig is up.

    Reply
    • D

      Dennis Gustafson | Sep 19, 2023 at 11:18 am

      It seems to me they could have won that game if they started mixing up the plays earlier in the game. More passing! The running attack was not working! why try to beat a dead horse. The play calling at times was atrocious! The offensive line has got to get better!

      Reply