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AMES — Iowa State football is staring history in the face this weekend, and not the good kind.
Not since 1997 have the Cyclones started a season 0-3. Let’s put that in perspective.
The last time an Iowa State team started a season with three straight losses, current quarterback Joel Lanning was 2 years old. Wide receiver Allen Lazard and running back Mike Warren were both 1. Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell was a 17-year-old high school senior.
It’s what this Cyclones squad will try to avoid when it faces TCU to begin Big 12 play Saturday at 11 a.m. in Fort Worth, Texas, on FS1. The last win against a ranked opponent for Iowa State came against No. 15 TCU on Oct. 6, 2012 (37-23) in Fort Worth.
“We’re trying to break that culture of woe is me, we’re getting down, things are always bad,” Campbell said. “It’s not the case. The reality of it is our work ethic and our effort and how we approach every day, that’s what gives us the right to be confident and go have success.”
Cutting out mistakes has to be the Cyclones’ starting point. In two games, Iowa State has accumulated 19 penalties for 162 yards. The trouble is not necessarily that the penalties happen, it’s when they happen.
Warren had a 21-yard run in Week 1 that was negated by holding. Backup quarterback Jacob Park had three passes of 15-plus yards against Iowa called back for ineligible men downfield infractions. Those kinds of penalties stall any offensive flow.
“A lot of it is mental,” Lazard said. “It’s getting lined up right or making sure the guy is on or off the ball. Then when it comes to holding and stuff, just making sure we have the right play call, we all understand what’s going on and we’re all doing our assignment.”
Three Big 12 opponents have been penalized more than Iowa State, including the Horned Frogs (1-1). TCU is last in the league with 21 penalties for 220 yards, but has shown enough offensive firepower to overcome most of its mistakes.
Through two games, TCU has scored 48.5 points per game and averaged 617 yards per game — both second-best in the Big 12 to Texas Tech. Quarterback Kenny Hill and wide receiver KaVontae Turpin are valuable pieces to the offense, but the Horned Frogs also have been turnover prone.
Iowa State’s defense has gained one turnover through two games, but TCU’s offense has given it up four times this year. Getting turnovers can sometimes be just as much luck as skill, and the Cyclones defensive backs are hoping they have a little luck show up Saturday.
“When you’re playing man coverage, your job is to guard the receiver,” said cornerback Brian Peavy. “With luck, sometimes the quarterback makes mistakes and that’s one thing we need to do is apply more pressure to the quarterback and make him make more mistakes.”
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