AKRON, Ohio — If you do a surface-level examination of the Iowa State football team, it had a pretty good day against Akron.
It crossed the 40-point threshold in its third-straight game to start a season — something it hadn’t done since 1976 — and tallied 400 yards of offense for the sixth-straight game dating to last year, a school record.
Even though Iowa State (2-1) dismantled Akron 41-14 at InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field, started at least 2-1 for the first time since 2012 and played three quarters of solid football, there was a sense of incompletion. Things, Coach Matt Campbell said, have to be better.
“I don’t think (the inconsistency is) a blip because we saw in the UNI game,” Campbell said. “I think we saw it at times against that team out East and I think we saw it again this week.
“Whatever the quarter is, that can’t happen. Not on good football teams. That doesn’t happen. We’ve got to get those things figured out, we’ve got to take accountability for it and that starts with me.”
Iowa State bullied the Zips (1-2) in the first quarter, outgaining them 170 to 52 in total yards to lead 14-0. Things started to go sideways in the second period that gave subtle reminders that this team, while improved, is nowhere near a polished product.
Quarterback Jacob Park, who finished 24-for-33 passing for 317 yards and two touchdowns, saw a snap sail over his head. He overthrew a number of receivers. There were a few drops.
Missed tackles were more infrequent than last week, but still present and defensive pass interference calls kept Akron drives alive. Iowa State missed a 25-yard field goal after going 70 yards only to stall in the red zone.
The Cyclones played well enough to beat Akron, Park said, but playing well in 3/4 of a game won’t end well most days.
“If we play that game against Texas, we lose,” Park said. “That’s Campbell’s point to everybody is we’ve got to play perfect, you’ve got to want to be perfect, you’ve got to come to practice and you have to have the intent to be perfect. If you don’t you get beat, especially at Iowa State.
“At Iowa State nothing is given to you, that’s why I love this place, you’ve got to earn everything.”
A 27-point win can’t be all doom and gloom. Senior linebacker Joel Lanning had a team-high eight tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a pass breakup and an interception that gave way to a touchdown by sophomore running back David Montgomery.
Montgomery had 127 rushing yards on 22 carries and a score. Senior wide receiver Trever Ryen had six catches for 80 yards while senior Allen Lazard added five receptions, 47 yards and a touchdown.
“After a game like this, not being able to play your best, especially against competition where we feel like we could’ve dominated the whole game, it has a sigh of relief I guess knowing there’s a lot of room to grow and improve going into the Texas game,” Lazard said.
Iowa State clamped down in the second half, scoring 21 unanswered points and outgaining Akron 257 to 152 in total yards. Blips and lulls happen, on occasion, for every team. Keeping it from becoming a trend is what Iowa State hopes to do as a nine-game Big 12 slate looms.
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“This team must get better. We must understand detail,” Campbell said. “We must understand how to get better one day at a time. I think there is a lot of growth you still see in our football program, but today’s not good enough.”
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