AMES — From the moment Matt Campbell became Iowa State’s football coach, he has stressed winning in the margins and perfecting details.
Iowa State didn’t do either of those things Saturday in a 27-17 loss to Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan.
The Cyclones are the least penalized team in the Big 12 but against the Wildcats, Iowa State committed eight penalties to Kansas State’s two.
Iowa State also failed to convert on third down, converting just 1 of 13. Most of them were third-and-long situations because the Cyclones either got a penalty early in the set of downs or failed to move the ball.
“How many of those third downs were even in our wheelhouse? They really weren’t,” Campbell said. “So many of the negative things that happened — whether it was the false starts or putting ourselves in tough situations. Our detail was obviously atrocious tonight and that’s coaching. That’s us.
“There is certainly accountability in other places, but it starts with me and it starts with us.”
It wasn’t just on the offensive side of the ball, either.
The defense missed tackles and the special teams were especially bad. On the first play of the game, Kansas State’s Joshua Youngblood returned a kick for a touchdown. Punter Joe Rivera also shanked a punt in the fourth quarter that went just 17 yards and resulted in a Kansas State field goal to put the game away.
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“Our offense, defense and special teams — there were good moments and then there were really bad moments in all three phases,” Campbell said. “The bad moments were moments that don’t allow you to win games like this. While our defense got the two turnovers, you still have to tackle and you have to stop the run and we didn’t do a great job of that. Those are details and it’s not even scheme it’s just a matter of doing your job and we didn’t do our job well enough.”
Iowa State has lost a lot of close games this season and Campbell credited most of the losses to a lack of detail in key moments.
“The attention to detail was missing tonight,” Campbell said. “It’s something that’s been the Achilles heel of this team. When we haven’t played good football this year, our attention to detail hasn’t been great. It’s the margin for being good or great.”
Iowa State finished the season 7-5 overall and 5-4 in the Big 12, tied with four other teams for third in the Big 12, which in the grand scheme of things is pretty good.
But the Cyclones had plenty of chances to go 9-3 or even better.
“This team has to figure that out between now and the bowl game and between the bowl game and next season,” Campbell said. “It’s the foundation of where we have to work.”
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