The first game of the season is in the books and Iowa State defeated a very game Tulsa team with balanced play, 38-23. Even the historically awful Cyclone kicking game was decent, with walk-on Edwin Arceo going 1/1 on FGs and 5/5 on extra points.
The key for Iowa State was that while there was obvious jitters, not a single part of the team struggled. Jansen Watson picked up for the graduated Leonard Johnson without much dropoff, while Shontrelle Johnson made his return from neck surgery memorable, piling up 120 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, much of it after contact. If you didn't believe that Shontrelle was the best running back on the team when healthy, today served as sufficient evidence. The running game was strong all around with 2011 Big 12 Honorable Mention James White coming off the bench for another 54 yards and a TD.
The defensive line still can't be considered a strength, but there were spurts where Rony Nelson and Jake McDonough looked like forces to be reckoned with, especially in formations with 3 down linemen, oddly enough.
The offensive line was not overly influential, but save for one incredibly terrible safety play, they were functional enough to generate holes for White and Johnson and give Steele Jantz enough time for multiple reads.
Jantz looked about as impressive as we could have imagined. I can honestly count about 5 plays where his decision making or accuracy could be seriously questioned, a far cry from last year's schizophrenic show. Steele's first TD to Josh Lenz was especially notable as he read the coverage and completed a long throw with accuracy even under intense pressure.
The only major negative to be said of the victory was the kickoff coverage. This will need to be worked on with Keenan Davis and a bevy of very good Big 12 returners coming up on the schedule.
On the injury front, Jeff Woody left the game with an ankle injury but was only held out for precautionary reasons. Chris Young took a helmet to the leg, and is also expected to be fine.
It's easy to be excited for next week with ISU looking the most impressive in an opener for at least the last 5 years and Iowa needing a late drive just to beat Northern Illinois, but remember that rarely does first week form matter in the Cy-Hawk game. The teams should be closely matched and I think I speak for fans of both teams that next week should be a great game no matter which way it goes.
And with that, let hate week begin.