116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — Iowa State has been here before.
The Cyclones have never had a winning record in the month of September under football coach Matt Campbell and after Saturday’s 31-29 loss to Baylor, Iowa State finished September with a 2-2 record.
Despite the slow starts, the now-unranked Cyclones have found a way to reverse their fortunes in years past, including last season, which ended up being the best in Iowa State history.
Now, Iowa State and Campbell will have to do it again.
“I've been here before,” tight end Chase Allen said. “The last time we played here two years ago, we lost by two points, 23-21. And then we end up having a great season after that with opportunities to do some incredible things. And that's the feeling now. We’ve just got to take it one week at a time and there's not going to be any drop-off in commitment.”
The last part of that statement has to be music to Campbell’s ears.
"Globally, it's on all of us,” Campbell said. “This is our choice. And I love being this team's coach, especially this group of kids. So I'm going to keep fighting for them. And I really believe they'll fight for themselves. And that's going to be the key to our success ... will we continue to grow and get better? And I've always said, the really good teams in college football keep getting better as the season goes.”
Iowa State’s in an interesting position in that the defense is outstanding. After surrendering three touchdowns on three drives against Baylor, the defense essentially shut Baylor down to the point where Baylor’s total yardage in the fourth quarter was minus-4.
The offense seems to have found itself as well. After two slow weeks to start the season, Breece Hall and Brock Purdy have found their form. Iowa State gained 479 yards against Baylor.
The issue right now lies with the special teams. Iowa State’s special teams handed Baylor 10 points on a kick return and a punt return. Those points were the difference in the game.
“We just need to continue to get better at execution and some things in different aspects of the game,” Allen said. “I mean how many yards of offense did we have? Four hundred and seventy-nine compared to theirs. It's tough."
Campbell liked much of what he saw, but he saw the issues, too.
“There's a great growth from where we were two weeks ago to where we are right now,” Campbell said. “The area that I still think that we have to hammer away now is do our kids believe? Yes. Did they play four quarters? Yes. Did we give ourselves a chance to win the football game? Yes.
“It's the little things that we have to continue to work to clean up. Why is that? That's a Coach Campbell evaluation that I’ve got to continue to do a great job of myself personally.”
Because Iowa State has been in this spot many times before, Hall has confidence they’ll find the way forward.
"For me, I know we'll be fine,” said Hall, who had 241 yards of total offense against Baylor. “We've always had the ability to bounce back. And playing in the Big 12, any team can lose on any given Saturday. I think we're in a good spot.
“I'm ready to see how our team bounces back. How we keep pushing and see our grit and how good our culture really is."