Peterson: Campbell says it's time to stop disappointing Iowa State fans
AMES, Ia. — A standing ovation to Matt Campbell for this brutally honest quote after the Iowa State team he’s coaching for the first time looked a lot like the Iowa State team against whom he led Toledo to victory last season:
“I hate it for our fan base,” Campbell said late Saturday night after his team’s 25-20 home loss against Northern Iowa. “There has to be a point in time where we draw the line and quit disappointing them.”
That’s as strong a statement as you’ll see or hear from a coach. Good for Campbell. Maybe one of his tech-savvy people can blow up that quote and attach it to each ISU locker. Maybe put it in a visible spot in the tunnel between the locker room and field.
“There has to be a point where we stop disappointing them.”
“I hate it for our seniors, but (Northern Iowa) deserved to win the football game,” Campbell continued. “They did what you have to do to win the game.”
Iowa State did what it had to do to lose this game, too, and that’s the point. If mistakes aren’t corrected in the next few hours, 0-1 will become 0-2, and maybe even 0-3 after opening the Big 12 Conference season in Week No. 3 at TCU.
Saturday night was Iowa State football deja vu: the turnovers, the penalties, the substandard line play and the loss against an opponent it led with a handful of minutes remaining.
Fans hoped this to be a new and improved era of Cyclones football, and it still might be. This also could be 2015 all over again.
“We felt like we let them outperform us,” said receiver Allen Lazard, who had six catches for 129 yards and a touchdown. “We still have a lot of room to improve on.”
He got that right.
How Iowa State’s Saturday night loss translates to the season’s final 11 games depends on how quickly this team improves. There’s plenty of room for improvement.
Will Campbell send personal and positional messages to players he knows are better than what they showed? How will his guys respond to all the bad stuff that resurfaced from nightmarish seasons of recent old?
What happened Saturday night doesn’t give Cyclones fans a lot of hope heading into Cy-Hawk Week. It might have even removed any hope they had for an Iowa State victory against a very good team inside Kinnick Stadium next Saturday night.
You can’t pass it on every play, can you?
“We can’t just sit there and chuck the football for 60 plays and be successful,” Campbell said. “That’s not who we are offensively, and that’s not what success looks like for us.”
So on Saturday evening in Iowa City, Iowa State will continue trying to run the ball with Warren. Campbell will give his 1,339-yard rusher every chance to regain confidence after fumbling at the UNI 43-yard line with 2:24 remaining and his team down by five.
Was this Kansas State 2015 all over again?
If Warren can’t hold onto the ball, then give true freshman David Montgomery more opportunities. We’ve been hearing about him since fall camp started. He looked pretty good Saturday night.
And why did Warren have just a dozen carries? Why did ISU rush for just 51 yards, its most pitiful ground effort since rushing for just 41 yards during a 71-7 loss at Baylor in 2013.
Of course, Warren and Montgomery aren’t going anywhere without an offensive line, and again, this is the offense’s wart.
It wasn’t great even before starting right tackle Julian Good-Jones was suspended after violating a team rule. Will he play Saturday against Iowa? Will it matter?
“We have to continue to work,” Campbell said of the line. “Those are a bunch of guys that haven’t had great opportunities for exposure. We have to find out what their strengths are, what they give us the ability to do, and then we have to build on these things.”
They were part of Iowa State’s problem — their inexperience, and their still learning to function with each other.
“We break a 12- or 13-yard run, then it gets called back on a holding call, or block in the back,” Campbell said. “Now all of a sudden that makes it really hard on the offensive line when it’s first and 20 or second and 20.”
Iowa State’s playmakers need the ball — Lazard, Trever Ryen, and yes, also Warren (or Montgomery). Pitch it to a tight end a time or two, also. There’s nothing to lose.
And did I mention turnovers? Northern Iowa got four. The Cyclones got one.
“How are you going to win a game when it’s 4-1? It’s just not going to happen,” Campbell said. “We’re not good enough, nor is really anybody (good enough) to overcome a situation like that.
“This was a bump in a road. Will it be a complete spiral downward, or can we regroup?
“That’s going to be the telltale sign of this football team.”
Randy Peterson, senior sports reporter, has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @RandyPete.