The question for Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads was simple enough. What do the Cyclones need to work on in the aftermath of a 34-14 loss to Kansas on Saturday?
Rhoads was participating in the Big 12 coaches’ teleconference Monday and presumably was not reading from a list.
“Tackling,” Rhoads said.
Yes, the Cyclones’ tackling was poor, especially in the first 1 1/2 quarters as the Jayhawks built a 24-0 lead.
But wait, there’s more.
“Wrapping up … and finishing.
“Getting off blocks.
“Getting aligned at a faster pace against a hectic-paced offense.
“Defending the deep ball.
“Protecting our quarterback and give him ample time to throw.
“Hard route running.
“Finishing plays on both sides of the ball.
“There’s a short list for you.”
Suffice to say, Rhoads was none too pleased with the performance that kept the Cyclones winless in the Big 12 and dropped them to 2-7 overall.
Kansas sported an identical record entering the game but emerged with the first victory for interim head coach Clint Bowen.
Rhoads said he was “embarrassed” and “ashamed” of the way Iowa State played to open the game.
“Worst half we’ve played since I’ve been the head coach,” he said.
It didn’t help that Iowa State was without injured starting quarterback Sam Richardson and middle linebacker Jevohn Miller. Richardson could be back in two weeks for the Texas Tech game. Miller was lost for the season because of a torn ACL the previous week against Oklahoma.
These are tough times for Iowa State and Rhoads, in his sixth season. Bowl games ended three of his first four seasons. But the Cyclones fell to 3-9 last season and will have to win two of their last three to surpass that total this season.
After Texas Tech, Iowa State meets West Virginia and finishes with a trip to TCU.
The Cyclones will have to win at least one for a chance to not finish in the basement by themselves.
“We’re diligently working to find answers,” Rhoads said.
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