AMES, Iowa — If the ceiling was to beat Iowa and be 2-0, Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads knows he’d have a problem with his Cyclones.
Despite a euphoric weekend following ISU’s 9-6 win over Iowa Saturday, the Cyclones had already turned the page Monday. In fact, ISU had moved on by Sunday afternoon.
“I’m excited our kids came to work yesterday to learn, to improve and prepare for our third week,” Rhoads said during his weekly press conference inside the Jacobson Athletic Building.
And even though FCS-level Western Illinois is the Cyclones’ scheduled opponent Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium, ISU is placing the same emphasis on the game as it did on beating the Hawkeyes.
“It’s quite a privilege to go out there and play,” defensive tackle Jake McDonough said.
“You only get 12 games, so you take each one seriously. This being my last season, every game is motivation for me to perform to the best of my abilities.”
This will be the first meeting between the Cyclones and the Leathernecks (2-0), but it is not the first time ISU has faced a Missouri Valley Football Conference opponent. The Cyclones are 36-4-3 against the MVFC and, obviously, play Northern Iowa bi-annually.
Rhoads is confident his team won’t overlook a Western Illinois team that is coming off wins over non-scholarship FCS opponent Butler and Division II Indianapolis.
The Leathernecks picked off four passes in a 27-17 win over Indianapolis last Saturday.
“I don’t sense any bit of complacency in our kids, in our program, and that is fully judged on how we went through meetings yesterday and how we went through practice,” Rhoads said. “We had a lot of energy. We had good focus and there is plenty of teach and have an opportunity to improve on.”
Captain Jake Knott said the team leaders have been making sure the Cyclones will be a focused group against the Leathernecks.
“This year we have the experience, the leaders, to be able to set things right,” Knott said. “We know where we should be, and every week we know we have to bring it and the past week is gone and a new week is here so we have to be extremely focused again.”
Knott was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week as selected by a media panel for his role in ISU’s win over Iowa.
It is the second time Knott has earned the weekly honor. He also claimed it once during the 2010 season.
In addition to his interception with 1 minute, 11 seconds left to ice the victory, Knott had six tackles as the Cyclones held Iowa to 68 yards rushing on 28 attempts.
“It’s nice to get that recognition, but at the same time I think it was a team defensive award because I feel like we played great the whole game and it is hard to recognize just one player out of that,” Knott said.
©2012 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa)
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