Iowa State is still without a win but coach Paul Rhoads says his team is much more confident as they prepare for the 62nd meeting with the Iowa Hawkeyes. After a disappointing effort in a lopsided loss to North Dakota State the Cyclones bounced back with a near upset of 20th ranked Kansas State.
“With that improvement, even in a loss, you’ll go into this week with more confidence as players and more credibility if you will as coaches,” Rhoads says. He says the players followed the plan and saw the improvement.
ISU had a much better showing on offense last week but the Cyclones still have not scored in the second half of a game. Rhoads says it’s not all about adjustments, it’s about execution and being in poor field position, which they’ve had in the second half of both games. He says they got some first downs against Kansas State, but the drives stalled out.
Rhoads says junior quarterback Sam Richardson has made big strides this season and now the chore will be to handle the hostile environment of Kinnick Stadium. “The good thing is Sam has been on the road, he’s been in hostile conditions and so that’s not going to be anything that’s a surprise to him or new to him,” Rhoads says. He says they’ll have to prepare in practice this week overall as an offense for the noise.
Rhoads says the ISU run game still needs more work and while blocking is part of it the running backs also need to do a better job of making defenders miss.
Rhoads says the Iowa game is not just another non conference matchup. “Rivalry games are special. The fact that I’m an instate guy along with a lot our players probably makes it more important to them. But it doesn’t take long to be a part of the culture and part of the program to understand the importance of this game,” according to Rhoads.
Rhoads says his favorite Cy-Hawk memory is ending Iowa’s 15-game winning streak in the series when he was a member of Dan McCarney’s staff as he says that made it a rivalry again. “I think growing up, it’s just how this state responds to this week and this game. It doesn’t matter what part of the state you are in, you are either at the stadium or at a party with all eyes on the game. That’s a pretty neat deal to feel and be a part of,” Rhoads says.
Rhoads says he does not get caught up in the build up to the game. “I don’t pay attention to the hype in years past, or currently or so forth,” Rhoads says. “It’s our next game, it happens to be against our instate rival. They are a very good football team that’s undefeated and on the brink of being ranked in nation’s the top 25. We played poorly in week 1, played a lot better in week 2 and are going to have to play a lot better in week 3 to be able to compete and that’s where my focus is.”