AMES — The football showed itself.
Iowa State nickelback Deon Broomfield’s eyes widened.
His arm became a rake — and produced a take-away that could have reversed the momentum of Saturday’s 31-10 Big 12 loss at favored Oklahoma State.
Stress: could have.
"We’re going to keep trying to get the ball back to our offense and hopefully they can build something off of that," said Broomfield, whose forced fumble and recovery at the Cyclones’ 3-yard line in the second quarter preceded one of six offensive three-and-outs. "That’s the game plan for success for us."
ISU (4-3, 1-3) looks to rebound at 6 p.m. Saturday against Baylor (3-3, 0-3) at Jack Trice Stadium.
Finishing on the plus side in the turnover tussle will again be a critical factor in determining the Cyclones’ on-field fortunes.
Broomfield’s opportunistic play Saturday came with the Cowboys leading 17-10. He scooped up the ball and returned it near midfield, but his knee touched the turf as he made the recovery.
"We needed a stop, we needed a turnover," said Broomfield, who is tied for the team lead in pass breakups (six), passes defended (seven) and forced fumbles (two). "Just trying to make a play. I didn’t know (my knee was down). It was so quick — first instinct was to get the ball and just take off."
The offense — which could be triggered by either Jared Barnett, Steele Jantz or Sam Richardson this week — didn’t follow suit. And despite its recent travails, particularly in the running game, the mantra remains "we’re not far off."
"It’s a matter of moving your foot two more inches on your first step to get better angles," offensive lineman Carter Bykowksi said. "Not taking a false step. Proper hand placement on a punch, or head placement on a combo block. Stuff like that."
ISU running back Jeff Woody spoke of misreads, missteps and missed blocks on certain plays that cumulatively led to consistency problems.
"Stuff that can be corrected and needs to be corrected," said Woody, who scored the Cyclones’ lone touchdown in the first quarter.
But who bears the brunt of a fan base’s angst when an offense bogs down? The offensive coordinator, of course. ISU Coach Paul Rhoads stands firmly behind his, Courtney Messingham.
"I was a coordinator and called defenses for nine years," Rhoads said. "And in the ninth year I was still doing things that I’d like to have back. Mess has been a coordinator before, but he’s back in the groove and he’s had seven games with this offense, and two quarterbacks, and running backs being down. There’s a lot of variables in there. And every game there’s things he’d like to have back and every game he’s learning from that. Very intelligent coach, very outstanding coach and very happy with the job he’s doing leading the offense."
As for Broomfield and the defense, it’s business as usual. Make plays, hope for the best.
The Cyclones are tied for 30th in turnovers collected with 15 and tied for 93rd in turnovers lost with 16.
"The best thing we can do is get the ball to them wherever we can get it to them," Broomfield said. "Whether it’s on the 3-yard line like it was (Saturday) or on the plus side of the 50. Anytime you can turn the ball over, it’s a plus for us."
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