AMES — Ever the self-critic, Iowa State quarterback Jared Barnett spoke plainly in the aftermath of Saturday’s 27-21 home loss to No. 5/6 Kansas State.
"I think early in the game I played decent," the sophomore from Garland, Texas said. "But there at the end of the game I didn’t play well enough for the team to win."
That means back to the film room for Barnett, who guided two touchdown drives of 12 or more plays, but also threw a second-quarter interception on the heels of a special teams take-away.
"I think the biggest thing is getting the fumbled punt and turning around and turning the ball right back over on the very next play," said Cyclones Coach Paul Rhoads, whose team (4-2, 1-2) faces defending Big 12 champ Oklahoma State in Saturday’s 11 a.m. FX-televised game at Stillwater. "Very big opportunity we had. Not the only one and certainly not the blame-all for the loss."
Barnett finished 16 of 36 for 166 yards, two touchdowns and the one pick.
"He didn’t look bad," running back Jeff Woody said. "He didn’t play poorly. Just a little bit off."
Barnett misfired on his last five throws, but earlier produced a 27-yard pass to Aaron Horne and a 30-yard touchdown toss to tight end Ernst Brun.
"I thought he played well enough for us to have an opportunity to win the football game," Rhoads said. "Led us to 21 points, which is above what they’re giving up. And with two-plus minutes left on the clock we had the ball in our hands and an opportunity to go win it. That’s what you want your quarterback to do."
Barnett said his one turnover came because of a miscalculation.
On first and 10 from the Wildcats’ 19-yard line after a Matt Morton fumble recovery midway through the second quarter, Barnett slung a pass to the goal line.
Kansas State’s Ty Zimmerman interceded and returned the ball to the 23.
"I read the safety wrong," Barnett said. "As I’ve watched their video, he’s been following the tight end to the other hash. I thought (receiver) Aaron (Horne) was going to be one-on-one with the safety on his side, but I just missed the read. The safety didn’t move and he ended up being right there."
Barnett has a 5-to-2 touchdown to interception ratio in two starts this season since replacing Steele Jantz.
He shined in last year’s 37-31 double overtime upset of the then-national title contender Cowboys, compiling career highs in passing yards (376) and touchdown passes (three, a total he matched in last week’s 37-23 win at TCU).
"We have to know that we can come out and beat this team," he said. "We just played the No. 5 team in the nation and lost by six points. "We know what we can do. We know how good we are. We know we have to bounce back."
He — and they — will, said running back Shontrelle Johnson.
"He’s a level-headed kid," Johnson said. "He’s a great player. He gave our offense a good talk after the game and told us we have to put this loss behind us."
Starting with him.
"A couple dropped passes, a couple bad balls, a couple missed run reads," Barnett said. "It’s a different game if we make those."