Two Takeaways: ISU offense misfires in loss
The No. 24 Iowa State Cyclones were presented with a chance to take charge of the Big 12’s race for the conference championship game Saturday afternoon in Stillwater, Okla., against the No. 6 Oklahoma State Cowboys.
The Cyclones (3-2, 3-1 Big 12) instead fell flat and now face an uphill battle to make the title game after a 24-21 loss in which offensive production was boiled down to two big Breece Hall runs.
PURDY, PASSING GAME FALLS FLAT
Apart from an 11-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, it wasn’t a strong performance from Iowa State’s star quarterback.
Brock Purdy threw for 162 yards on 34 attempts, completing 19 passes and throwing a touchdown and an interception. It wasn’t until late in the first half that Purdy broke double-digit positive yards through the air, as the entire offense struggled to get going against a much-improved Cowboys defense. Charlie Kolar was limited to four receptions for 50 yards and didn’t sniff the end zone. The only passing touchdown came late in the fourth quarter, with the Cyclones in desperation mode. A 20-yard touchdown pass from Purdy to Xavier Hutchinson was the team’s only meaningful play through the air.
Head coach Matt Campbell said the passing game lacked efficiency in the catching aspect, but also gave props to the OSU secondary.
“Well, you got to catch it, throwing the ball, you have to be able to catch it and we didn’t do that a couple times,” Campbell said. “So that was one issue. And then the second issue is, you got to give those guys credit. I mean that’s a veteran secondary. Of the five secondary players, four of them are juniors and seniors and they’ve played a ton of football.”
Purdy and the Iowa State receivers have been up-and-down all season long, and have yet to hit a stretch of consistent form. A steady diet of breakout star Breece Hall (20 carries, 185 yards and one touchdown) has been the only constant. It’s a team running out to time to figure out its inconsistencies.
SPECIAL TEAMS ERRORS AND DEFENSIVE LAPSES
Anytime a game decided by three points involves a missed field goal from the losing team, it’s going to be a topic of conversation.
Iowa State has normally have a strong kicker in Connor Assalley, a former walk-on who won the starting job in 2018 and has held onto it with increasingly positive results. Coming into the Oklahoma State game, Assalley was five-for-six on field goal attempts.
Against the Cowboys, Assalley went 0-for-2 with misses from 48 and 33 yards. For an offense that was struggling to create scoring opportunities, it was particularly damaging.
Campbell said a missed field goal after Breece Hall’s 70-yard run changed the course of the game.
“Yeah, that was huge. I think that was if you talk about a difference in the game, I think that was one of those moments where it drastically alters the game,” Campbell said. ” Obviously, we know it was 24-21. So, not getting any points there obviously becomes a difference in the game.”
But it wasn’t just Assalley’s missed kicks. The Cyclones had ample opportunity to tackle junior running back Chuba Hubbard on his 32-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, and allowed 76 receiving yards to NFL prospect Tylan Wallace.
Defensive lapses have caused the Cyclones major issues in their losses, and Campbell said it’s something the team will have to iron out before the coming big games.
“And I think we’re we have to iron out our team, if we want to become our best is we got to get rid of the lulls and we had them in every phase of the game today,” Campbell said. “And unfortunately, those lulls caught us.”