The Iowa State Cyclones season started exactly how they did not want it to. (Is it basketball season yet?) Three straight losses, instability at quarterback, and many fans are wondering why the Cyclones chose Matt Campbell to be their guy. Paul Rhoads could have done this. The answer is simple. Campbell needs more time. Turning around a program in Ames, Iowa is not the same as turning around a program in the heart of Texas. It is tough and Cyclone Nation needs to remain patient, but Campbell and company has a chance to answer some questions Saturday against San Jose State.
Date/Time: Saturday, Sept. 24, 11 A.M. CDT
Where: Jack Trice Stadium (Ames, Iowa)
Forecast: Except for a few afternoon clouds, mainly sunny. High 82F. Winds SE at 10 to 15 mph.
Betting Line: ISU -6.5
Coach Campbell has to find a starting quarterback and stick to his man. Coming into the season, junior Joel Lanning was projected to be the starter, but he has left the fans wanting more this season. Lanning has completed 38 of his 69 passes for three touchdowns. He also has three interceptions to go with them.
Enter sophomore Georgia transfer Jacob Park. Park has gone 7-of-15 for 169 yards, but without a touchdown so far this year. The offense cannot afford to have a question mark at quarterback as the Cyclones get into Big 12 play, so look for them to name a temporary starter this week as Campbell scrambles to find his guy.
The Cyclones also have to get sophomore running back Mike Warren into the game. Last week, he rushed for 95 yards on 23 carries. Not terrible, but through three games he has only carried the ball 45 times for a total of 153 yards. Those numbers are way low for last season’s Big 12 Freshman of the Year.
If Iowa State is to have any success this season, they have to figure out a way to their stars the ball. Junior wide receiver Allen Lazard, one of the best receivers in the league, had only one catch on Saturday. That could be because of the quarterback uncertainty, but Lazard and Warren have to have the ball in their hands for the Cyclones to make plays.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Get Playmakers The Ball – If you read the above, this shouldn’t be a surprise. If the Cyclones want their first win, any win, they need get the ball into the hands of Lazard and Warren. Lazard should have no less than 10 targets a game, and Warren should never carry the ball fewer than 20 times. Star players make star plays, and ISU needs a couple of those to chalk up a W this weekend.
Limit Stupid Mistakes – This goes without saying, but the Cyclones have made plenty in their 0-3 start. Turnovers, penalties, coaching errors, eat. The Cyclones need to take a page out of Bill Snyder’s school of football and focus on the basics. Limit penalties, do not turn the ball over, and that will go along way in winning.
Step Up Defensively – Iowa State should beat San Jose State. They are favored by almost a touchdown. The Spartans are a terrible team and the Cyclones need to win this game. The defense suffered injuries in fall camp, but this is a game the young guys can get on the right track. The front seven needs to play strong against San Jose State, The secondary will have a chance to settle in and get ready for the passing offenses they’ll see in the Big 12.
ISU has a chance to right ship this weekend, and Campbell knows it. Playing at home will help, and an 11 a.m. kickoff will only favor the Cyclones as the opponent is coming from California. Crazy how the scheduling works. He will have his guys prepared this week, and the Cyclones will get their first win of the season, 38-24.