A chance to rise into a Big 12 contender has not yet vanished for No. 23 Iowa State.
Nonetheless, coach Matt Campbell specified that the Cyclones (3-2, 3-1 Big 12) must develop more consistency if they are to remain in the conference chase, beginning with a game Saturday at Kansas (0-5, 0-4).Campbell's comments came during a review of last week's 24-21 loss to Oklahoma State.
"There's moments of outstanding (play), and there's lulls,'' Campbell said. "The reality for the entirety of the team is you can't have lulls and so, offense, defense, special teams, everybody included, looks exactly the same. We have to iron out our team if we want to become our best.''
Two missed field goals, nine penalties and a handful of defensive breakdowns contributed to a defeat that dropped Iowa State six spots in the rankings.
Four consecutive three-and-outs in the second half kept the Cyclones from attacking and exposed vulnerabilities in a diverse offense that previously flourished behind quarterback Brock Purdy.
Breece Hall, the nation's leading rusher with a 143.2-yard average, continues to sizzle after gaining a career-high 185 yards on 20 carries against Oklahoma State.
"His ability to create big plays is outstanding,'' Campbell said. "The bigger thing for me is just the consistency of running the football wasn't as good as what we've had at times. We've just got to figure that out.''
The potential to perform at a high level certainly exists. Charlie Kolar, a veteran who is part of a highly-valued trio of rangy tight ends, was among those who had uncharacteristic drops in the Oklahoma State defeat. Campbell, however, pointed to that problem as a collective effort.
Whatever issues the Cyclones encountered while falling from the Big 12 lead can certainly be repaired Saturday. Kansas has lost nine straight dating to last season and has been outscored by an average margin of 30 points this year.
"Their players are on scholarship. They're here just like we are. You can't take them as a joke or anything like that,'' said Hall, who is from Wichita, Kan.
While Hall maintains respect for the sagging Jayhawks, the challenge facing second-year coach Les Miles never seems to get any easier. Kansas allowed two punt returns for touchdowns last week, including one on the final play of the first half, and was outclassed in a 55-14 loss at Kansas State.
At least one affirmative move came out of that debacle. True freshman Jalon Daniels will remain the starting quarterback after Kansas tested three starters in that spot in its first four games.
"The opportunity for him to get the majority of the snaps in practice is going to happen anyway,'' said Miles, "so we might as well.''
Daniels appears to be recovered from a foot injury he suffered earlier this month, which caused him to miss two games. Despite heavy pressure that resulted in four sacks, Daniels passed for 207 yards and added 27 yards rushing. He did, however, throw a pick-six.
--Field Level Media