Adversity in Ames gives No. 20 K-State much-needed growth

(Photo by Taylor Alderman | The Collegian) Senior wide receiver Tyler Lockett reaches for the football for the first down as Iowa State defensive back Nigel Tribune goes to tackel him at Jack Trice Stadium on Sept. 6, 2014. The Wildcats defeated the Cyclones 32-38.

For 31 minutes and 6 seconds, Iowa State led the No. 20 team in the nation. Last week, the Cyclones lost by 20 to an FCS program. This week, K-State nearly fell to an inspired squad in Ames.

Obviously, this brings a lot of question marks to the fans of Bill Snyder’s squad, and deservedly so.

After going up 13-0 in the first quarter, defensive stops were virtually non-existent for the Wildcats. The offense sputtered with four three-and-outs and an 82-yard punt return from Jarvis West threw every piece of momentum in Iowa State’s favor.

But K-State found a way.

“I think [facing adversity] is going to help us out a lot,” senior wide receiver Tyler Lockett said. “Not everything is going to go your way. You could say the first week, everything went our way. Sometimes you have to actually go through stuff to see how great of a team you are.”

If K-State would have gone on to cruise through today’s game after its early offensive outburst, they would not have experienced a mental element to their game that will be much needed when the No. 5 Auburn Tigers come to town on Sept. 18.

It’s inevitable that Auburn will bring highlight-reel plays when they come to the Little Apple in less than two weeks and its a big reason why they are the fifth ranked team in the nation.

Now that K-State has faced resistance, they will have a better handle of what it takes against greater competition.

“It shows that we’re willing to do whatever it takes to win,” sophomore running back Charles Jones said. “When everything goes wrong, we’re not putting our heads down and blaming people. We’re keeping our heads up, staying positive, and just doing our job.”

Facing struggles was a good thing for K-State, but only if it can correct them. The tackling by Wildcat defenders was less than stellar, to say the least. The offensive line did not protect Waters very well at times and hey committed 10 penalties for 77 yards.

The biggest mistake of all for K-State was letting its foot off the gas. Not taking advantage of opportunities to put a game out of reach gave the Cyclones hope. That hope ignited the 54,800 fans in Jack Trice Stadium and rattled the Wildcats.

“It was a 13-0 ballgame instead of a 21-0 game,” head coach Bill Snyder said. “That made a huge difference. I think that’s where the real letdown was, right there.”

K-State’s main focus for the bye week should be learning from its mistakes in this game. They proved in the first quarter that they can be a dominant team.

They were shown over the next 30 minutes what happens when they are complacent. Both of those experiences can help the Wildcats as they move forward.

“When you win it’s like ‘we won and we still played that bad?'” senior wide receiver Curry Sexton said. “What’s going to happen if we put all those things together, if we don’t get multiple false start penalties, if we don’t get offensive pass interference, if we don’t have penalties on defense, if we don’t let a punt go back for 70 yards. What happens if you put those little things together? When you can ask that question after a win, guys start to think ‘what’s the limit for this team?’ and I think that helps.”