Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State football needs to focus on mental side during bye week

No. 7 Oklahoma State is next for Cyclones

Iowa State running back Breece Hall (28) runs from Texas Tech linebacker Krishon Merriweather (1) during the first half
Iowa State running back Breece Hall (28) runs from Texas Tech linebacker Krishon Merriweather (1) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

AMES — Iowa State running back Breece Hall has run the ball 55 times in the last two games.

In Iowa State’s 31-15 win over Texas Tech on Saturday, Hall rushed 24 times in the first three quarters before Kene Nwangwu took over toward the end of the game.

While Hall still is relatively healthy, it’s near impossible to run the ball that much and not have any dings or bruises. Luckily for Hall and the rest of the Cyclone football team, Iowa State (3-1, 3-0) is entering its second of three bye weeks.

“The bye week timing is huge,” tight end Chase Allen said. “Breece had 27 carries tonight and he needs to heal up. We have a lot of guys who need to heal. We’re going to take this time to get physically right and we’re going to mentally strain to get ourselves ready so we don’t get caught up in this next three-game pod.”

The mental details of the game are going to be a focus for Iowa State during the bye week. Coach Matt Campbell is pleased with how hard his team is playing and the effort it is showing, but mental mistakes keep popping up for the Cyclones.

For the second week in a row, Iowa State’s offense lined up in an illegal formation and, against Oklahoma the week before, the Cyclones were called for nine penalties. In years past, Iowa State has been the least penalized team in the Big 12.

“We want to be the best version of us and there were some things today — the blocked field goal, we had a touchdown called back again today because of an illegal formation, there were some things at the end of the game, defensively — those things aren’t what elite teams do,” Campbell said. “It’s early in the season and we have to coach it and get it corrected. Some of those things or some of those people — whether it’s repetitives or not — we have to do a great job of getting it fixed.”

It’s maybe more important than ever that it does get fixed.

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Iowa State has beaten two perennially good teams in TCU and Oklahoma this year and the Cyclones are tied for first place in the Big 12 standings.

Iowa State’s next game after the bye week is against No. 7 Oklahoma State (3-0, 2-0), which also is tied atop the Big 12. Oklahoma State has beaten West Virginia and Kansas, two teams likely to finish toward the bottom of the conference. The Cowboys still have to prove themselves a bit. The Iowa State game will be their chance.

“We want to become the best version of ourselves and it’s going to be detail and precision that allow that to happen,” Campbell said. “We still have some work to do and it’s early in the season, but it must get done.”

The Cyclones have been ridiculously good in the month of October under Campbell.

Iowa State is 12-1 in October since 2017. Allen believes it’s because that’s when the team finds its rhythm, but he also noted past Iowa State teams have fallen off toward the end of the season.

If Iowa State wants to seriously contend for a Big 12 title, those details will be more important than ever.

“(Our October success) is pretty spooky,” Allen said. “It takes us a while to get into that really good groove and we always seem to hit it in October. What we need to work on is in years past we’d wear down and we’d slip up, technique wise. That’s really what we’ve been hammering home.”

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