AMES – Someone wondered where 2022 ranked among the Iowa State teams Matt Campbell has coached. To me, that’s easy. The team that finishes the regular season next week at fourth-ranked and unbeaten TCU is barely better than his first team in 2016, and that’s even debatable.
Sad yet true.
Iowa State’s average of 3.1 yards a Rush after 11 games is rock bottom during the Campbell era. It’s behind the 4.3-yard average of the 3-9 season of 2016.
The Cyclones’ scoring average of 20.7 points is lower than the end-of-season average of any of the six previous teams. That includes a 2016 team that averaged 27.7 points, a deceptive number thanks to a combined 97 points vs. Kansas and Texas Tech teams that weren’t very good.
Let this be a reminder that strings of winning can also be interrupted by seasons like this. A team that can’t sustain offense has demonstrated problems that haven’t shown up since that first season.
More:Peterson: Not just once, but twice Iowa State showed its Offensive inconsistency
And what good does it do to point out the 11 one-score losses Iowa State has been through over the past two seasons? None. That defense became worn out a long time ago.
Sure, you’re close enough to win, but you’re still losing. This offense showed Saturday that if you need just a yard or two for a touchdown or first down, the odds, unfortunately, are against it happening.
That was the case during a 14-10 loss against Texas Tech when five plays from inside the 3-yard line in the third quarter resulted in a negative six yards.
Once, maybe. But the fact they were on consecutive possessions shows the woeful state of an offense that needs considerable off-season attention.
Blips like this season happen. Temporary downturns like this can be expected. It’s not so much about what happened, it’s about how you fix it. That’s worth keeping an eye on whenever the off-season starts.
If there’s a repeat next season, then that’s a disturbing trend.
What was on the Register’s Iowa State text group’s mind after Saturday’s loss against a Texas Tech team that’s as substandard in as many areas as the Cyclones?
More:Iowa State mailbag: How can an offense fail to get two yards five times?
Text-group comment: Matt Campbell faces some soul-searching on how to take our program up another notch. The place I would start is the Offensive line staff. The line was embarrassing Saturday night. Who’s the offensive line coach?
My comment:I asked Campbell last week about off-season changes, given that he’s done that before. He replaced an entire strength and conditioning staff after 2018. He and defensive coordinator Jon Heacock broke from tradition in going to the three-player defensive front. He’s not immune to making changes. What changes will he make this off-season? They said to check back with him after the season. He’s not big on firing assistants, but does that mean line Coach Jeff Myers’ job is safe? I’d say everything is up for review.
Text-group comment: Is it just my eyes, or has this offense really regressed as much as I think it’s regressed?
My comment: It’s not just your eyes. It’s backslid overall since Breece Hall, Charlie Kolar, Chase Allen and Brock Purdy made NFL rosters. Some regression is predictable, but has the Offensive line improved? Blame running back injuries on some of it, but it’s not like the offense was humming before Jirehl Brock got hurt. Here’s a fact about which I wrote last week: Every Big 12 program has had at least one Offensive lineman drafted since Iowa State’s last line draftee in 2013. That shows that other programs are doing better jobs developing linemen.
Text-group comment: How does a team gain more than 400 yards and score just one touchdown? That seems impossible.
My comment: Deficient play in the red zone. Up-the-middle Rushes behind Trevor Downing resulted in eight yards. Red zone plays to his left or right were disasters. Tight ends aren’t the greatest blockers, which is why Grant Treiber was an extra lineman on some plays. Play-option with Hunter Dekkers might have been a possibility. A jump-ball pass that Xavier Hutchinson catches amid heavy Defending might have been an idea, too. Corner-of-the-end zone passes to a tight end? They’re not nearly as much a mismatch as Kolar was, and anyway, tight ends Saturday were trying (emphasis on trying) to block.
Text-group comment: Some very good people just laid it out there this season for the next group to use as an example. Iowa State does not need hype from the press about next season.
My comment: That actually was the end of a detailed text about Saturday and the entire season. Returning players must not only learn from their 2022 mistakes, but learn to the extent that it makes them better players. Do that, while being Grateful they forever can call themselves teammates of players like Hutchinson, O’Rien Vance, Will McDonald, Downing and Anthony Johnson Jr., among others. And as for 2023 expectations? There will be no preseason hype.
Text-group comment: The fact this program can compete game after game with Oklahoma, Texas and Baylor is a testament to Matt Campbell’s value to Iowa State. Let’s see what basketball and wrestling have to offer.
My comment: That seems an appropriate way to end this. Success of Iowa State basketball teams and the wrestling team will make for some entertaining winter viewing.
Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson embarked on his 50th year of writing sports for the Des Moines Register in December 2021. Reach him at [email protected], 515-284-8132, and on Twitter @RandyPete.