It would be real easy to look at Iowa State and see that with a first-year head coach that is new to the Big 12 and at 36 years old is the youngest head coach at a Power Five school. It would be easy to see that Matt Campbell has the Cyclones sitting at 1-4 and that even though they came close with Baylor last Saturday losing 45-42 on a field goal on the last play of the game, they allowed the Bears to rush for 467 yards. They lost a heartbreaker in what had to be their best effort so far in the season, so surely they will have a hard time emotionally recovering from that.
You know, I've thought about all that but then I have spent some time around Campbell and he is a player's coach deluxe. He is as enthusiastic as you could imagine. He gets players to buy in. He reminds me of Mike Gundy in 2005 when he took over his New York Yankees job at his alma mater.
Campbell is not a Cyclone by birth or by college experience, but he sure seems to have both feet in the circle. His team is likely destined to finish somewhere around 4-8 or 5-7, similar to Gundy's first Cowboy team that finished 4-7. The team reminds me of that Gundy team, some talent, but also a lot of deficiencies too.
Remember, that Gundy team did collect a momentum building skin as they knocked off 17th-ranked Texas Tech. I think Iowa State will likely do something similar. Campbell thought it was going to happen last week.
“I don’t know what changed or what happened," Campbell said of the fourth quarter and Baylor's surge and Iowa State's retreat. "I just think a couple guys had chances to make plays and we just didn’t make them, right? You know, that’s where we’ve got to make those plays to win games like that and to be able to sustain that kind of momentum and success and whether it was a mental error or a physical error, those are things you can’t do and those are things we did really well for – like you said – for three quarters.
"We’ll evaluate what that looks like and feels like, but [we] had our chances for sure offensively to really extend the game and give ourselves a chance to stay ahead of the scoreboard.”
Campbell said his team has to develop and has to get to the point where they can finish a game like that. They'll be looking to try to do that in Stillwater on Saturday. Oklahoma State offensive coordinator MIke Yurcich knows Campbell and really respects him.
Another sidebar on a team that has skill talent on offense with Mike Warren at running back and receivers Allen Lazard, Carson Epps, and young Deshante Jones. The weaknesses are the offensive line and speed across the board on defense.
They do have two quarterbacks they will play and one, Jacob Park, is an old high school rival of Cowboys starting quarterback Mason Rudolph. It was the South Carolina Division II-AAAA State Championship Game and Rudolph's state record eight touchdown passes that led Rudolph's Rock Hill Northwestern Trojans to a 62-35 win over Park's Stratford High School team.
Iowa State will start Joel Lanning, but Campbell has said that Park will still play, even though he stayed with Lanning throughout the close loss to Baylor.
"Joel’s earned the right to be the starting quarterback," Campbell explained. "We wanted to definitely play both guys. We got into a really good rhythm in the game and just didn’t feel like it was fair to pull him out at the time. [It’s] nothing that Jacob [Park] did. You’ll continue to see enough of Jacob Park and Jacob does a great job, but Joel played really well and gave us great chances to win the football game.”