Peterson: Cyclones fans enjoying The Drive, concerned about punting, wonder about Campbell

For Iowa State football fans, the weekend was, well, intriguing. They had barely dried out from sitting in a wet Kinnick Stadium on Saturday when news came out Sunday that Nebraska's Scott Frost had been fired.

They had barely digested that news before the predictable happened: Matt Campbell’s name surfaced throughout social media.

So my weekly interaction with the Cyclones’ text group suddenly changed from responses like Campbell for President and Hunter Dekkers for VP (honest) to another round of social media jabber about Campbell and, this time, the Cornhuskers.

Let’s start in reverse order:

Speculation about Matt Campbell, Nebraska

I don’t put a lot of stock in unsourced social media speculation. Sure, it’s possible Iowa State isn’t Campbell’s final coaching stop. We know that, and it’s hardly breaking news that Nebraska might be interested. You can assume he’s on many athletics directors' candidates lists, including that of Cornhuskers AD Trev Alberts.

Campbell, whose team hosts Ohio at 1 p.m. Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium, is believed to have spurned the interest that Florida State and Tennessee had in him. He said he wasn’t interested in the Detroit Lions’ alleged multi-million dollar offer to coach in the NFL.

His name will be linked with every big-time coaching position that comes up. That’s a fact of life when your coach is 42 years old and has had big-time success at a place that hasn't always been known for football excellence.

“I sure hope it is not true about the rumor that Campbell is extremely likely to be next Nebraska coach,” wrote one of the text-group faithful, and to that I say this:

It wasn’t long ago that same person with the most recent Campbell rumor tweeted that Ed Stewart would leave the Big 12 administrative office to become the Nebraska AD. Bottom line: Alberts is the Cornhuskers' AD. Enjoy the moment, not what may not even happen in three months.

I end this part of the weekly Tuesday text-group column by reminding people that Campbell’s halftime speech during Saturday’s 10-7 victory against Iowa included the success he had coaching Gilbert’s sixth-grade girls softball team to a come-from-behind win in a championship game last summer. If that team could do it, he told his guys, they certainly could rally from their 7-3 halftime deficit against the Hawkeyes.

More: From 99 yards to eternity: How Iowa State marched down the field and into Cy-Hawk legend

I doubt anyone watching his softball team play hollered anything nasty about trailing early in that game last summer. I doubt anyone shouted lingering frustration from the softball bleachers about the Cyclones’ football team going 7-6 last fall. I’m not so sure that kind of truly Iowan understanding and patience would happen elsewhere.

All right, here we go. Week 2 of The Register’s Cyclones text-group responses about what happened last Saturday.

The 99-yard drive, or as one person called it, 'The 99-yard dagger'

Text-group comments:

  • A beautiful 12 minutes of heaven between a lot of ugly in the rest of the game, but during which so many Cyclones had so many big plays amidst the uglies.

  • Iowa State's defense out-played Iowa's defense, a young team overcame adversity, and that history-making, character-exposing, confidence-building 99 1/2 yard drive. ... Wow.

  • To sum it up, the 99-yard drive and winning the game got the monkey off Campbell's back.

  • Well-called by (offensive coordinator) Tom Manning, and execution by (quarterback Hunter) Dekkers and his offensive mates was great.

More: Peterson: In 99-yard drive, Hunter Dekkers became 'the guy' for Iowa State football

The maturing of a young Cyclones football team

Of course Iowa State fans are concerned about Matt Campbell's Cyclones future in the wake of Nebraska firing Scott Frost.
Of course Iowa State fans are concerned about Matt Campbell's Cyclones future in the wake of Nebraska firing Scott Frost.

Text-group comments:

  • We witnessed a relatively young Iowa State team grow before our eyes on Saturday. Yes, they made some mistakes. But ISU fans can be confident that this group of athletes, under this experienced staff, will get better/stronger after the win over Iowa.

  • I think this game will do wonders in building their confidence and togetherness, going into the snake pit and coming out the other side.

  • The exciting thing is this team will get better as the year goes. To win and build upon this experience is very impressive.

  • Maybe having all those "new" starters for ISU was the difference. A veteran team may have gotten down, after several of those turnovers, and this team just kept pushing forward.  Maybe that will give this team the confidence it needs to overcome and move forward after adversity.

More: Peterson: Why Matt Campbell isn't getting too hyped over Iowa State win over Iowa

Special teams concerns

Text-group comments:

  • We need a special teams "coach" that can actually be on the field with the players. How do you let the same guy block two punts?

  • Without those two punt blocks, this would've been a total mismatch, but somehow some way, we must clean that up.

  • We got the bragging rights and the trophy for this year, but there were plenty of areas that need shoring up. The punt team simply cannot give up two blocked punts again. Let's work on that. maybe copy a team that seldom gives up a blocked punt.

  • No punt blocks or red zone turnovers, and the Cyclones win by three touchdowns.

  • I’m sure the coaches will take notice, but the punt protection and the punting itself (the angle the ball leaves the foot, which seems kind of flat) needs some work.

Jirehl Brock development

Iowa State running back Jirehl Brock has impressed fans after rushing 43 times for 204 yards in two games this season.
Iowa State running back Jirehl Brock has impressed fans after rushing 43 times for 204 yards in two games this season.

Text-group comments:

  • Jirehl has surprised me in a good way so far this season.

  • Brock's performance in the first two games (43 rushes, 204 yards) has been outstanding. He's proving himself to be a great replacement for Breece Hall.

  • Tough runner, plays hard, new leader. I’m happy he's getting his opportunity to shine.

Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson embarked on his 50th year of writing sports for the Des Moines Register in December 2021. Reach him at, 515-284-8132, and on Twitter at @RandyPete.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Iowa State football fans on win over Iowa, Matt Campbell's future