AMES, IOWA — Wally Burnham turned and walked into the dark, chilly Ames night earlier in the week headed back for his office and still visibly unhappy with his defense’s performance from more than a week prior when the subject was breached.
Pressed on what the Iowa State defense needed to improve, Burnham offered: “Everything.” The longtime defensive coordinator preferred looking ahead rather than in the past. It’s unlikely that sentiment has changed now following Iowa State’s 59-14 loss against Oklahoma on Saturday.
“One of the things I told the locker room was everybody is responsible for how we played Iowa State football today,” coach Paul Rhoads said. “It was well below expectations.”
After Oklahoma forced a three-and-out to start the game, it needed two lone plays to go 77 yards in 34 seconds. The Sooners never looked back, taking a three-touchdown lead before the Cyclones got on the board in the second quarter when Sam Richardson scrambled for an 18-yard touchdown.
That was one of few bright spots in an otherwise dismal day for the Cyclones.
The Sooners did their damage on the ground by rushing for 510 yards, the most surrendered by an Iowa State defense since Nebraska ran for 624 yards in 1995. In all, the Cyclones gave up 751 yards of total offense, the third-most in program history.
The total yardage was the fourth-best mark in Oklahoma history. The loss was Iowa State’s worse since last season against Baylor when the Bears won 71-7.
“We tackled horribly today,” Rhoads said. “I mean horribly.”
“Teams in this league, they’re going to be pretty tough,” added cornerback Sam E. Richardson, who intercepted two passes in the loss. “So watching film and being prepared for that and going on the field and executing it, that’s what it’s all about and we’ve got to do a better job of that.”
The defense was without the services of Nigel Tribune, who injured his groin late in the week, as well as Robby Garcia and Brandon Jensen on the defensive line. The situation wasn’t helped when linebacker Jevohn Miller went down on the second defensive play to what is likely a season-ending knee injury.
Offensively, Richardson and his receivers were out-of-sync from the onset. Passes flew past unaware receivers in some instances while other passes hit hands and fell to the grass. Rhoads estimated that more than 20 passes were misfired or dropped.
“Today was probably just not our day for offense,” said receiver D’Vario Montgomery, who accounted for the Cyclones’ second and final score when he brought in a 59-yard touchdown catch on the sideline.
Now Iowa State heads back to the practice field and back to the offices, searching for an answer for a defense that has allowed 223 points in the last five games.
“Everybody has to come in with a different attitude,” said linebacker Luke Knott, who intercepted a pass. “We kind of got kicked in the mouth there and didn’t respond the way we know we can.”