By Rob Gray
AMES — The Iowa State football team held a players’ only meeting Tuesday behind tightly-closed doors.
The specific words exchanged?
The views expressed?
“It’s obviously players’ only for a reason,” said Cyclone quarterback Sam Richardson, who will start his ninth straight game Saturday at 11 a.m. against No. 19 Oklahoma State at Jack Trice Stadium. “But definitely just to get the message across to the guys that we’ve got to get it going. This is a team that can make those plays and that’s what I’ll keep it to.”
The closely-guarded and undoubtedly spirited discussion comes as ISU stands 1-5 overall and 0-3 in Big 12 Conference play.
One topic — beyond the obvious need to start leveling the win-loss ledger — centered on the home field.
It’s been far from an advantage for the Cyclones lately, despite hosting a school-record 16 consecutive crowds of 50,000-plus fans.
ISU enters the matchup with the Cowboys (5-1, 2-1) wobbly from the weight of a five-game home losing skid dating back to a 35-21 win over Baylor on Oct. 27, 2012.
“We’ve got to get a win for the fans at Jack Trice,” senior safety Jacques Washington said. “That’s the most important thing right now. They’re frustrated, so we’ve got to do something to change that around.”
The Cyclones are 2-4 in their past six Big 12 road games and 1-5 in their most recent conference clashes at home.
“We want to win — I don’t care if we’re playing on the road, or at Jack Trice or out on the Johnny Majors practice field,” ISU coach Paul Rhoads said. “We’ve got to find ways to be successful and win. I count on an energized crowd that brings their excitement about Cyclone football to Jack Trice Stadium this Saturday at 11 o’clock and our football team will play energized and hopefully one will feed off the other and vice versa and we’ll be out there playing good football, playing toward success.”
Richardson, who split time with backup Grant Rohach in what Rhoads labeled the “Baylor fiasco” — a 71-7 setback — last Saturday, emerged healthier than he’s been since suffering a major right ankle sprain in the season-opening loss to Northern Iowa.
“That’s definitely one positive you can take out if it, but obviously not a very fun night overall,” said Richardson, who seeks his first home win as a starter against the Cowboys.
That’s an understatement, as the Cyclones come off their worst margin of defeat in program history.
So Richardson, who’s completed 56.8 percent of his passes for 10 touchdowns and five interceptions this season, said he “wasn’t surprised” Rohach replaced him intermittently at Waco.
“You don’t ever want anyone playing in your spot,” Richardson added. “I hate that feeling, but it’s something that, obviously, you’ve just got to play better and that’s something I definitely take to heart.”
That’s a team-wide view — and one not confined to a players’ only meeting.
“The fans are always going to be supportive and they’re very loyal,” Washington said. “We appreciate them, but it’s time for us to do something to get them to cheer for. That’s the biggest thing this weekend — give them something to cheer for.”
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