By Rob Gray
AMES — As the crowd went crazy, the pressure built and the emotions spiked, Cole Netten remained just a man with his football, tee and net.
He knew, of course, that the Cyclones were roughly 10 yards away from giving him a long-shot chance to boot his fourth and likely game-winning field goal in the closing seconds of last Thursday’s controversial 31-30 loss to Texas.
But as he prepared for his possible opportunity along the sideline, he heard nothing and thought nothing.
He simply worked — and it’s because of that a two-man battle for points-scoring kicker his become his job to lose entering Saturday’s 11 a.m. game at Texas Tech and beyond.
“I was pretty calm,” said Netten, who drilled a career-best three 3-pointers (37, 41, 29) in the loss. “I just don’t think I had realized it was (potentially) coming down to a game-winning field goal yet.”
If he had, it’s likely the same tranquil mood would have soothed any recalcitrant nerves.
Netten — from kicker- and tradition-rich Ankeny —has faced down the uprights in big games since his freshman year in high school.
He said he converted one walk-off game-winner in his prep days.
“It was a pretty easy chip shot,” said Netten, who yields to senior Edwin Arceo for kickoffs.
That wouldn’t have been the case Thursday if ISU had managed to eke out another first down in the waning moments against the Longhorns and Netten’s cool with that.
Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads has asked his kickers to attempt 18 kicks of 40 more yards the past two seasons — mostly by Arceo, the 2012 starter.
Netten’s two misses this season came in the Tulsa win, and were from 46 and 49 yards out.
The 49-yarder hit the upright, so he had plenty of leg.
“It was three-quarters of the way up the upright if not all the way up to the top,” Rhoads said. “He mis-hit it and I know how he mis-hit it and why he mis-hit it.”
So does Netten, who bounced back with ISU’s first unblemished kicking performance that included three or more field goals since Arceo drilled a trio of long ones in last season’s win at Kansas.
“One of the things that separates a kicker from a great kicker is how you bounce back the next game from a game like the one I had at Tulsa,” Netten said.
That kind of rebound proceeds from a clear, serene mental state, not a frantic, hyped-up one.
Netten said he’s always approached the football in that frame of mind.
Hero or goat?
It — nothing, really — crosses his mind.
“When I go out there it’s all quiet for me,” Netten said. “Everything’s blocked off. When I’m out there I’m 10 times more focused.”
TV TIME: ISU’s Oct. 19 game at Baylor will kickoff at 6 p.m. and be broadcast on ESPNU.
HURT, SICK, WHAT NEXT?: It’s been a tough 2013 for ISU center Tom Farniok, who strained his knee in the Northern Iowa loss and missed the Iowa game. He’s far from 100 percent, but has played in the past two games — the last one while battling a stomach bug. “It was just kind of one of those, what more can go wrong now?” Farniok said. “I’m just excited to be able to practice a full week because I didn’t play very well against Texas. It showed I hadn’t been practicing.”
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