There is no escaping Iowa State’s recent history against Kansas State. The close games turning to narrow defeats, five seasons with coach Paul Rhoads at the helm all ending in a loss one way or another.
“There isn’t anybody in these two rooms when we meet that’s beat Kansas State as an Iowa State University personnel member,” Rhoads said earlier this week. “That has our attention, too. It’s something that we’d like to achieve.”
Iowa State last beat Kansas State under the direction of Gene Chizik in 2007, a 31-20 victory at Jack Trice Stadium. Six seasons have followed and six losses to the Wildcats have come along with them.
Five of those losses — the lone exception being a 41-7 loss last season in Manhattan, Kan. — have come by one score. The Cyclones lost by eight in Chizik’s final season in 2008 and have since lost by one, twice by seven and another time by six before last season’s more lopsided defeat.
Getting over the hump this season won’t get any easier. First, the Cyclones must correct a number of mistakes from their Week 1 loss to FCS North Dakota State. Not to mention they’ll be facing the No. 20 team in that nation that beat Stephen F. Austin 55-16 last week.
What does Iowa State need most?
“Urgency,” Rhoads quipped when asked. “That’s exactly what I told our staff, that’s exactly what I told our players. Urgency and getting your job done. That’s a 100 percent rate of speed at executing your responsibility. Whether it’s a fit, whether it’s a tackle, whether it’s a route, whether it’s a cut-off block. Everybody needs a little bit more urgency.”
The Iowa State defense, which surrendered 503 yards of total offense in the season-opener will be tasked with stopping Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters. While K-State coach Bill Snyder said Waters graded ‘OK’ in the Wildcats’ opener, the Cyclones know the confusing offense he can provide.
“You don’t know if they’re running or passing,” cornerback Nigel Tribune said. “He might run up to the line of scrimmage like he’s running the ball, but he might throw it. It’s kind of confusing so you can’t really look in the backfield.”
Iowa State’s schedule, meanwhile, won’t get any easier with Iowa following next week and No. 10 Baylor later in September. Avoiding the downward spiral that ensued after the Cyclones’ opening loss last season begins this weekend.
“With that happening last year, I think we’ll respond to it better than we did last year,” quarterback Sam Richardson said. “It’s our main focus in this week and we’ve got to respond to it quicker than we did last year and just build on it.”