Cyclones’ culture change on display Saturday night

Much has been written and said about a changed attitude within the 2015 Iowa State football team.

“Just like I talked about on media day before the start of camp, I think the culture of this football team is different,” Coach Paul Rhoads reminded the news media Monday. “There is a great resolve in this group from both a leadership and responsiveness (standpoint).”

It’s impossible to define a culture shift statistically, scientifically or mathematically. Rhoads and his staff, however, insist they sensed a shift during the off-season.

The first test will likely occur when Northern Iowa visits Saturday night.

“When adversity comes, which it will, we need to handle it,” Rhoads said. “We need to respond to it whether it occurs in the first quarter or the fourth quarter.”

Challenges are part of the routine. Does it surprise you that defending national champion Ohio State trailed in nine games last season? But, that team had a culture of togetherness and toughness.

Rhoads has worked for months in building that type of attitude in his team.

“It is one of the things we challenged our football team with – both on and off the field – in preparation this season,” Rhoads said.

Certainly, many will focus on quarterback play, defense against the run, sound tackling or a stout rushing attack against the Panthers. The stats will explain how the Cyclones performed in those areas.

But, their responsiveness to eventual hardship will be the first indicator of how much the culture has really improved.

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