AMES — After another disheartening loss at Oklahoma last Saturday, there are a few action words many wouldn’t have expected to hear inside Iowa State’s Bergstrom Football Complex Monday.
Upbeat. Confident. Excited.
Those words might have been ringing throughout the Kansas football complex, too, after the Jayhawks snapped a 27-game Big 12 Conference losing streak with a win over West Virginia last Saturday. KU (3-7 overall, 1-6 Big 12) now has a chance for a two-game conference win streak, something that hasn’t happened since 2008.
That’s a lot of excitement for two teams with a combined four wins this season.
“Easy to be in a good mood on this Monday, our players’ day off and you see so many of them walking around the building getting extra work done, watching extra tape,” ISU head coach Paul Rhoads said. “That has inspired me and puts me in the kind of mood I’m in today.”
Rhoads knows his positive attitude sounds a bit strange to most people.
But he says everybody didn’t see the look on his players’ faces after the Oklahoma game, a game in which ISU dominated for a half until Jalen Saunders ran back a punt for 91 yards to tie the game at 10-all just before halftime. The Sooners then exploded for 38 more unanswered points in the second half en route to a 48-10 win.
“Because of the look I saw on our kids faces, the acknowledgement, the realization of exactly what happened after playing a team off their feet, arguably better than them for 30 minutes of football,” Rhoads said of his upbeat behavior. “I think it is a big step forward because this is an opponent we can attack this week in practice ... the mind, the work and so forth as we head into our final two games.”
Senior safety Jacques Washington agreed with that statement.
“We did some things right,” Washington said. “The biggest thing is when we do things right we can play with anybody and when we do things wrong we can’t afford those mistakes and try to play catch-up. I think that is the biggest thing in what he is saying about confidence.
“He’s saying, hey we were dominant in the first half up to that punt. I know we felt that way, too.”
ISU (1-9) could be confident because of its hold over Kansas recently, as well. The Cyclones have won three straight games in the series and will be looking for their first four-game win streak over the Jayhawks since 1986-89.
Rhoads said his team still has confidence, but needs some affirmation on a game day.
“It was affirmed for 29 minutes (against Oklahoma) then cut out of them with the punt return,” Rhoads said. “We were playing them. We were 10-3 and playing better than they were. Yeah, I think the mindset is still there to be confident and go win football games.”
Kickoff Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium is set for 7 p.m.
SENIORS OUT: Twenty-one seniors will be appearing at Jack Trice Stadium Saturday for the last time, but at least three of those will not be able to play because of injuries according to Rhoads.
Wide receiver Albert Gary, tight end Ernst Brun and offensive lineman Kyle Lichtenberg will not play but will be introduced with their parents prior to the game.
WEST VIRGINIA TIME: Iowa State’s final game at West Virginia has been slotted for 3 p.m. and will be shown on Fox Sports 1.
VAN DER KAMP TO SENIOR BOWL: Iowa State senior punter Kirby Van Der Kamp has been invited to participate in the 2014 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
The game will be played on January 25.
Van Der Kamp’s booming punts and pinpoint accuracy have been on display this year. The West Des Moines native has booted 17 punts of 50 or more yards this season, while pinning opponents inside their own 20 yard line 25 times.
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