AMES — No. 23 Iowa State showed glimpses Saturday of what it can look like when it’s firing on all cylinders.
It also showed how narrow the margins still are in a 24-21 loss to No. 6 Oklahoma State.
“It’s obviously a tough one,” receiver Xavier Hutchinson said. “We came in really prepared and we had some faults with our precession and that’s what led us to this result. Once we clean that up though, we’re going to be a much, much better Iowa State team.”
One thing both running back Breece Hall and Coach Matt Campbell mentioned was Iowa State (3-2, 3-1) failing to get any points when it made it into the red zone late in the first quarter thanks to a 70-yard Hall run.
The Cyclones had the ball third-and-6 from the 18 and quarterback Brock Purdy was called for intentional grounding. That forced a 48-yard field goal, which Connor Assalley missed.
“It just felt like we shot ourselves in the foot at times — some penalties, some missed assignments, we got down to the red zone and didn’t convert,” Hall said. “Just everything that causes a team to lose a game pretty much.”
Iowa State’s offense had other issues as well. Campbell noted that drops were an area of concern. Campbell said that’s part of the reason Purdy’s 19-of-34, 169 yards passing and one touchdown stat line doesn’t jump off the page.
“When you’re throwing the ball, you have to catch it,” Campbell said. “And we didn’t do that a couple of times. That was one issue and the other is you have to give them credit. That’s a veteran secondary that made a couple of plays on the ball. (Purdy’s stat line) looks a little bit deceiving when you had a chance to catch the ball and you didn’t.”
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Iowa State’s problems weren’t just with the offense and special teams. The defense had issues of its own.
“On defense there are two plays that we’d like to have back where we didn’t tackle well early in the football game,” Campbell said. “We gave up a couple of big plays that let them off the hook.”
Campbell didn’t mention which plays they were, specifically. But one of them was undoubtedly Chubba Hubbard’s 32-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. The Cyclones had Hubbard stopped at the line of scrimmage, but the star running back was able to break a few tackles and scamper in for the touchdown.
“We played good but we didn’t play good enough,” safety Lawrence White said. “We let them get some big plays out there and we can’t afford to let that happen.”
Iowa State showed what it’s capable of late in the fourth quarter. The defense was able to make a stop and the offense marched 83 yards in 49 seconds to give itself a chance at the end of the game.
“Our precision on that last drive was on point,” Hutchinson said “That’s what Iowa State football looks like. If we can collectively, as an offensive group and as a whole team, get that every single down and every single series, then I think we’ll be a dangerous team.”
That’s a bit easier said than done.
“It’s like our whole team — the defense, the offense, the special teams — there are moments of outstanding and there are lulls,” Campbell said. “The reality for the entirety of the team is you can’t have lulls. Where we have to iron out our team if we want to become the best is we have to get rid of the lulls. We had them in every phase of the game and unfortunately it caught us.”