By Rob Gray
About that steady improvement the Iowa State football team had been showing from week to week, despite the losses piling up ...
It was there — until Saturday night in Waco, Texas.
Until Baylor’s highly incendiary offense and previously lukewarm defense hung the most lopsided defeat in program history on the Cyclones, 71-7, before 46,825 rabid fans who wanted to see see more scoring from the home team — and could have.
Could have pitched a shutout, too.
“It takes a team effort to win like that,” Bears quarterback Bryce Petty told reporters after his 12th-ranked team crafted a complete performance that likely will land it in the top 10 this week. “My hat’s off to the defense. I mean, holy cow, in my mind, that’s a goose egg.”
There were a lot of holy somethings going around, especially for ISU fans watching on TV or in person.
So, “corrections” are in order for the Cyclones (1-5, 0-3), which will face No. 21 Oklahoma State (5-1, 2-1) at 11 a.m. Saturday in Ames.
And maybe even a top-down overhaul.
“There’s plenty to be corrected, and the first group to start correcting will be us as a coaching staff,” Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads said in the postgame news conference. “You don’t lose a game like this with players — you lose this game as a complete organization. It starts with examining your plan, like why we went with it and why it was ineffective. Then, physically, why we didn’t get things accomplished. There are no places that we will be able to brush over and say, ‘We were good there.’”
Saturday was a top-to-bottom head-shaker.
As expected, backup quarterback Grant Rohach played his first snaps.
As should have been expected, he struggled at times while replacing Sam Richardson.
Apparently there’s another quarterback competition — halfway through the season.
Richardson’s banged up, from his right ankle, to his groin to his right thumb and who knows where else.
He threw for 68 yards and an interception.
Rohach threw for 65 yards, a 27-yard touchdown to tailback DeVondrick Nealy with 3:01 left, and an interception.
“No matter how much I played, it was just disappointing to take a loss like that,” Rohach said.
Never before in 121 years of playing football had ISU suffered a “loss like that” — as in a 64-point margin of defeat.
Baylor outgained the Cyclones 714 yards to 174.
Even in garbage time — which came pretty quickly since the Bears built a 37-0 halftime lead — ISU struggled to move the ball.
Part of that’s because of a youthful, beaten up and outmanned offensive line that allowed five sacks.
“I don’t think there’s another team in the country that has started five different offensive lines in six games,” Rhoads said. “It’s hard to play at a high level when that’s the case, but that’s what we’ve got.”
They’ve also got a defense that has given up 113 points and 1,380 yards the past two weeks.
Regroup is all they can do.
That and rebuild — for the rest of this season and beyond.“Regardless of what happens on the football field, we care about each other and we have to continue to care about each other,” linebacker Jeremiah George said.