AMES — College football is about results and not moral victories. The Iowa State football team is well aware of that.
Yet when a program has experienced eight wins in the last three seasons, was outscored 67 to 23 in its first two weeks against in-state opponents and accumulated 19 penalties in two games, you’re looking for progress of any kind. Cyclones coach Matt Campbell saw that.
“To be honest with you, just a couple detail things away from putting ourselves right in contention in the fourth quarter to win it,” Campbell said on the Cyclone Radio Network. “Those are things we’ve got to continue to correct. But it’s our work ethic, it’s our attitude, it’s our commitment off the field that gives us the opportunity to do those things.”
A 41-20 loss at TCU continued to show how far Iowa State (0-3) must go before it can win conference games, but Campbell wanted that mission to start by his team playing cleaner football. It did that. The Cyclones amassed seven penalties, but for just 44 yards and didn’t commit a turnover.
“Every day we come with a purpose,” said wide receiver Trever Ryen, who led Cyclones receivers with six catches for 58 yards. “We’re just getting better at the details of everything. This is still a new offense to most of us and we’re just trying to get better at it every single day.”
The running game also started to take shape with sophomore Mike Warren as the featured back. He had 23 carries for 95 yards while Iowa State ran for 138 yards as a team with help from its third different starting offensive line in as many weeks.
Left tackle Jaypee Philbert is serving an indefinite suspension for a violation of team policies and forced senior Nick Fett to start in his third position on the offensive line. He had played at right tackle and left guard in the first two games, respectively.
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“We had some hiccups here and there, but you’re going to have that throughout the game,” Fett said. “A lot of good stuff happened this game that we can build on and keep going into next week and just continue good practice habits and keep marching on for next game.”
Iowa State will be moving forward into its matchup with San Jose State (1-2) — it is coming off a 34-17 loss to Utah — with a two-quarterback system. Junior Joel Lanning played eight possessions to sophomore Jacob Park’s six against the Horned Frogs, but showed flashes of good things in Campbell’s estimation.
Lanning was 12-for-21 for 127 yards passing with 31 rushing yards and two touchdowns while Park was 7-for-15 for 90 yards passing. Until Campbell sees enough consistency in his quarterback play, whether that’s Lanning or Park, the dual-quarterback system will likely continue.
“I think both guys have a lot of ability and can help us,” Campbell said. “Just finding that right mix is something we’ll continue to work on and it’ll be a great challenge for them as they go and compete in practice each and every week.”
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