At the end of the first half Saturday night, Coach Paul Rhoads sprinted onto the field and put his arm around freshman tailback Mike Warren.
With his halftime radio interview pending, Rhoads was telling the rookie to stay confident and keep his head up. Warren had just rushed for 54 yards in the opening two quarters of his first college start.
His last attempt had advanced ISU to the Toledo 15-yard line – giving his team a chance to take the lead – before a fumble was recovered by the Rockets.
Rhoads needed to remind his freshman before halftime to hang in there and Warren responded.
Iowa State had not run the ball well the first two games of ‘15. Warren was tabbed to start at Toledo and his 126-yard evening included a season-long 41 yarder. He became the first Cyclone freshman in five years (Shontrelle Johnson) to rush for more than 100 yards in a game.
His team, likewise, made progress Saturday. The Cyclones outrushed (207-171), outpassed, (274-138) and outgained (481-309) the Rockets while building up a 16-plus minute advantage in time of possession. However, they didn’t get rewarded in the won-loss column.
Now, Rhoads needs to remind his team to hang in there. They improved in too many areas and showed some resiliency in bouncing back from a deficit.
And, they’ll have an off week to learn from their mistakes and build off the improvement.
The hope is that the team responds as well as its freshman tailback did in the second half.