Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell explains his team’s 27-17 loss to Kansas State on Nov. 30, 2019.
Danny Lawhon, email@example.com
MANHATTAN, Kan. — Troubles with detail haunted Iowa State early in the season. So that may have been the most frustrating part of Saturday’s 27-17 loss to Kansas State — they still were by the final game of the regular season.
“Those are things that can’t exist in the 12th game of the football season,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell. “That’s coaching, and it starts with me.
“Our detail was obviously atrocious tonight.”
Iowa State was physically dominated on both sides of the ball, with Kansas State running through the Cyclones’ offensive line and over the defensive line. We’ll get to that in a bit, though. Plus, being outmatched, physically, happens. But what can’t — at least not this late in the season — are the miscues that Campbell calls “winning in the margins.”
The Cyclones lost in that department … again. They were whistled for eight penalties for 55 yards. A big blunder was allowing return star Joshua Youngblood a chance to bring back the opening kickoff. It resulted in Iowa State falling into a 7-0 hole just 13 seconds into the game. Another costly mistake came in the fourth quarter, when Joe Rivera shanked a punt 17 yards, giving Kansas State great field position.
“It’s been the Achilles Heel of this team,” Campbell said. “When we haven’t played good football this year; our attention to detail hasn’t been great. Whatever that is, wherever that is, it’s the margin for being good or great.”
So, why is it still happening now, in the 12th and final game of the regular season? That’s something Iowa State will have to find the answer to before its bowl game. If they can’t, the troubles could continue.
“This team’s got to figure it out,” Campbell said.
MORE COVERAGE OF SATURDAY’S GAME:
Iowa State made its fair share of mistakes — there were dropped passes, penalties and missed tackles. But the Cyclones struggled massively in one specific area: keeping up with the physicality of Kansas State. The Wildcats dominated Iowa State’s offensive and defensive lines Saturday. The numbers tell the story:
Kansas State out-rushed Iowa State 231-51. Iowa State running back Breece Hall, who had rushed for at least 100 yards in two of his last three games, ran for just 59 yards on only eight carries — the lowest input for Hall since he took over the starting spot. Even Purdy, who completed just 15 of 30 passes and was sacked only once, was under constant pressure.
The most surprising part may have been Kansas State’s success on the ground. Iowa State, which entered the game ranked second in the Big 12 in rushing defense, could never slow down the Wildcats’ running game. Jordan Brown finished with 91 yards on the ground.
So what went wrong for both sides of the ball? It wasn’t scheming or playcalling. Campbell said it came down to something simple, especially during the cold and windy night when both teams wanted to avoid throwing the ball as much as possible: physicality.
“I felt like, on a night like tonight, the more physical football team was going to win the game — the team that was able to rush the football,” Campbell said. “And they did it and we didn’t.
“The team that had the ability to be the most physical for the longest was going to win the game, and they certainly were.”
Why keep the timeouts?
Iowa State was still within striking distance of Kansas State, trailing by just seven as the Wildcats took over the ball with 6 minutes and 59 seconds to go. But with the Wildcats struggling to move the ball and time ticking with Kansas State moving the ball on the ground, Campbell kept all three of his timeouts in his back pocket. A Kansas State field goal pushed the lead to 27-17. By the time Iowa State got the ball back, just 3:04 was left on the clock.
Campbell said he never contemplated using any of them. But the decision to keep the timeouts may have backfired, as Iowa State had fallen behind two possessions and was running out of time.
“I wanted to hold those timeouts,” Campbell said. “From our end of it, I thought, No. 1, we could stop them and, maybe with the wind the way it was tonight, have a chance to block the kick. and then No. 2, even if we didn’t block the kick, I wanted to make sure we had all those timeouts and had the opportunity at best to be able to get an onside kick and put ourselves in a situation to go win the game.”
Golden opportunity missed
There was a lot on the line for Iowa State on Saturday. What would a win have meant? Well, the Cyclones would have secured eight regular-season wins in back-to-back seasons for just the second time in school history — with the first coming in the 1979-’79 seasons. Another win would have also solidified a third-place conference finish, all to Iowa State’s self.
Perhaps most importantly, a final victory would have helped bolster Iowa State’s resume and moved the Cyclones up in the bowl game pecking order with an outside shot at the Alamo Bowl. But now, Iowa State’s best-case scenario may be landing in the Camping World Bowl. And Saturday’s slip up could cause the Cyclones to fall even further.
On the flip side, Iowa State is still bowl-eligible for the third-straight season and finished .500 in conference play for only the fourth time in the Big 12 era. Both are monumental marks, but what will stand out the most are the missed opportunities that came with Saturday’s loss.
Source: Des Moines Register