AMES — There was no ambiguity from Matt Campbell when he walked into practice a day after his team’s second fourth-quarter collapse in as many weeks.
“I’m ticked. I made that known,” the first-year Iowa State coach said Monday in his news conference. “I hope our kids are ticked, too. I would be if I was a player. Everybody’s just a little bit ticked off. That’s permeating right now through our doors, I would hope.”
It would seem the permeation of that disappointment has reached every corner of the locker room. At some point, it’s up to Cyclones players to put their feet down in the fourth quarter and not lift them up until the final whistle.
That next chance comes at Texas on Saturday at 6 p.m. (Cyclones.tv/Longhorn Network).
“Everyone is just kind of mad at themselves for letting that slip away, especially two weeks in a row,” said quarterback Joel Lanning. “We came ready to practice yesterday, we fixed our mistakes, watched film, corrected those and then moved on to Texas.
“Right now our team, their head is fine, they’re moving on and we just have to keep competing like we have been.”
Iowa State (1-5, 0-3) held leads of 14 points against Baylor and 17 points against Oklahoma State, both with less than three minutes to go in the third quarter.
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Execution has stalled in the fourth quarter for ISU, but the Longhorns (2-3, 0-2) have experienced struggles of their own the last three weeks. Two of the three losses — at California and against Oklahoma — were by one score or less, the other an 18-point drubbing by Oklahoma State.
The Texas defense ranks last among Big 12 teams.
Since a 42-3 loss at Iowa, Iowa State has shown tangible improvement and arguably put itself in a position to be 3-3 instead of 1-5. But players know with the season halfway over, talk of improvement needs to turn into results on the scoreboard.
“We’ve been saying this for the past two weeks that we’re getting closer to getting over the hump,” said cornerback Jay Jones. “I think we just have to go out there and actually just do it. Forget about getting over the hump and just do it rather than thinking about it so much.”
LAZARD PUTTING DROPS BEHIND HIM
Wide receiver Allen Lazard has been a security blanket much of the time for his ISU quarterbacks, and boasts the numbers to back up that reputation.
He leads the team in receptions (27), receiving yards (383) and touchdown catches (4), but the number he thinks about is three. That was his number of drops in the loss at Oklahoma State.
“I just relaxed too much,” Lazard said. “I knew I was open and I just got too comfortable. I knew I had the sticks, but I was just kind of waiting on the catch. By the time it got to me there was a defender on me. I just relaxed and he made a play to break it up.”
Those drops irk him as much as his team’s inability to finish games in the last two weeks, but Lazard still had six catches for 55 yards and two scores Saturday while targeted 14 times. He’s also been in a slow process of working himself back from a foot injury.
Lazard hadn’t practiced on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Sundays for the three or four weeks before Oklahoma State, but has been on the field all those days since. He’s also had to work back to being in game-shape after missing so many practice reps.
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“I just tried to do my conditioning on the bike for the most part,” Lazard said. “Most of time I was just observing and trying to get mental reps more than physical ones.
“I was just more exhausted a lot quicker in the game. I’d get to the second drive and I’d be exhausted and needed an immediate break rather than get through a good series without getting tired.”
Safety Kamari Cotton-Moya didn’t play against Oklahoma State after getting dinged up last week against Baylor. He missed the final six games of last season to injury, too, but Campbell is hopeful this is a short-term ailment.
Campbell said Cotton-Moya, who has 36 tackles and an interception this season, is day-to-day, but “was running around a little bit Sunday” in practice.
“We’d love to get him back, but it’s great to see guys step up,” Campbell said. “At this time of year, you’re going to have guys go down, and our answer can’t be, ‘Oh man, if we don’t have Kamari, we can’t play well.’ That’s just not acceptable.”
Wide receiver and punt returner Trever Ryen suffered an ankle injury in the second half of Saturday’s loss and isn’t full go yet, Campbell said. Ryen was at practice Sunday, but Campbell said a decision is coming later this week.
Ryen had six catches for 74 yards and a touchdown before exiting the game in Stillwater. He’s fifth nationally in punt return average (16.3 yards).
“It was not as bad as it looked,” Campbell said. “He walked out of there on Saturday night and was walking around without a boot or anything like that.”
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