Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State football notes: Some fans allowed at West Virginia game

Offensive line getting stronger, experienced team winning close games

Iowa State mascot Cy cheers in the stands during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Kansas State, S
Iowa State mascot Cy cheers in the stands during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Kansas State, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

AMES — Iowa State athletics director Jamie Pollard announced in a letter to fans on Monday that fans would be allowed back for the West Virginia football game on Saturday.

Pollard cited a decreasing trend in COVID-19 cases in the state and locally.

The state reported 1,878 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and a seven-day average of 2,184. Fifty-six of those new cases were from Story County. Story County’s 14-day positivity rate is 11.1 percent, but 84 of Iowa’s 99 counties have a 14-day positivity rate over 15 percent as of Tuesday.

Saturday is Iowa State’s senior day for a historic Cyclones team.

“We know we’ve got a great fan base and I think that that’s what makes Iowa State a really special place to be,” Coach Matt Campbell said. “And yet, I hope what they are watching and witnessing during tough and trying times can maybe be a little bit of a beacon of hope to each of them.

“I really think our kids’ sacrifice and commitment to doing the right thing has given them a chance to be successful and I know it’s disappointing, obviously, that we can’t be back to normal right now. At some point, I’m sure we will be in this country, but I think that how our young people have approached what they do and how they’ve approached their business, hopefully we’ve given them a little sense of satisfaction and maybe a sense of enjoyment.”

Offensive line getting stronger

Two weeks ago, after ISU’s victory over Kansas State, offensive lineman Sean Foster said the line could’ve played for two more quarters.

On Saturday against Texas, the line got better as the game went on.

In the first three quarters, Iowa State averaged just 3.2 yards per carry. In the fourth quarter, that number jumped to 5.4.

The line was able to wear down Texas’ defense and open up holes for Breece Hall, including his game-winning touchdown run.

“We planned for the long haul in fall camp rather than planning for maybe short-term success and I think some of those things certainly have helped our guys maybe have gas in the tank toward the end of the season,” Campbell said. “I think we made a lot of changes, but ultimately the best change that has happened and really the most credit that had to happen, was that our young men, when we talk about winning in the dark. Well, literally, they were in the dark for three months and they had to go to work.

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“The credit needs to go to our kids.”

Experienced team winning close games

Iowa State is 4-1 in one-score games this season. The Cyclones were 2-4 last season in such games.

The reason for the turnaround? Well the offense isn’t relying on a sophomore and a true freshman in Brock Purdy and Hall and the defense isn’t relying on a sophomore and a true freshman in Mike Rose and Anthony Johnson.

“Last year’s team was so young and everybody wanted to put a lot of expectation on a lot of youth and that was deserved because of the success of (what) was a veteran football team the two years prior to (last season),” Campbell said. “I think that it’s continued growth in this program and I think the young players and older players in our program took the lessons we learned a year ago, navigated the landscape, and then said, ‘Where can we continue to go and improve?’ Collectively we were all able to really grow through the offseason.”

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