Iowa St now must build off Iowa win

For the third straight year, Iowa State is coming off a win few
saw coming.

Now comes what has been the hard part for the Cyclones:
following up a big win with another solid performance.

When Iowa State plays a nationally televised game at Connecticut
on Friday night, the Cyclones (2-0) will try to conjure up more of
the magic that enabled them to upset Iowa 44-41 in three overtimes
last Saturday. They’ve been unable to do that following their two
previous marquee victories under coach Paul Rhoads.

Two years ago, Iowa State stunned Nebraska 9-7 in Lincoln, then
was routed by Texas A&M (35-10) and Oklahoma State (34-8) the
next two games.

Last year, after the Cyclones beat Texas 28-21 in Austin for
their first victory ever over the Longhorns, they came out flat
against a Kansas team that had been outscored 159-24 in its three
previous games. Iowa State trailed 9-7 at halftime before rallying
for a 28-16 victory.

Wide receiver Darius Reynolds said he learned from that game and
is taking a different approach this year.

”To me, the game on Saturday is already forgotten about,”
Reynolds said Monday. ”I’m just going to start watching film on
UConn, start studying them up a little bit, learning their defense
and the coverages and seeing what matchups I’ll get.

”Last year I didn’t really do that. It was more about bragging
and boasting about the Texas victory and how we beat them.”

Rhoads said there was no doubt his team started the Kansas game
with a Texas-sized hangover. The Cyclones managed only five first
downs in the opening half and got their only touchdown of the half
on a punt return.

”That’s why I think that was such a very big win,” Rhoads
said. ”We did struggle. But we fought through that struggle and
found a way to win that football game. They came in and hit us in
the mouth and we responded. Now, you’d rather go into it and not
have to be forced to respond. You’d rather go out and start
executing and playing fast from play one.”

Rhoads said he didn’t think a letdown was the problem when Texas
A&M routed the Cyclones after their victory over Nebraska.

”We were out of gas,” he said. ”It was later in the season.
It was game nine and we hadn’t had an open date. Our football team
was running on empty.”

It would be easy for the Cyclones to keep soaking up the glow
from their victory over Iowa. They had lost three straight to the
Hawkeyes and had managed only one touchdown in those games. They
scored six TDs on Saturday.

But defensive back Leonard Johnson said he and his teammates
have to forget about Saturday.

”It’s hard to do,” he said. ”Of course it is. But you’ve just
got to do it.”

Johnson had done his part to push the Hawkeyes aside. After the
game, he put a photo of himself celebrating on his Twitter account.
He has since taken it down.

”The Iowa win was good. I’m going to still think about it every
day,” he said. ”(But) find a way to put it behind you and focus
on the next opponent.”

Quarterback Steele Jantz, playing just his second major-college
game, stung Iowa with four touchdown passes and converted several
third-and-long and fourth-down situations. Jantz led the Cyclones
to the tying touchdown with 1:17 left in regulation, then directed
them to TDs in each of the three overtime periods.

The week before, Jantz produced two touchdowns in the last 4 1/2
minutes of a 20-19 victory over Northern Iowa, scoring the game
winner himself on 1-yard sneak with 40 seconds left.

He will soon face a Connecticut defense that’s giving up only
214 yards a game and has allowed opponents to complete just 47
percent of their passes. The Huskies (1-1) also have recorded eight
sacks.

Can he keep it up?

”I think he can,” wide receiver Josh Lenz said. ”I think a
lot of it’s just natural for him. He’s just a natural quarterback.
He has a knack of making plays when he needs to and that’s what
he’s doing.”