September 15, 2012; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Jared Barnett (7) runs the ball against the Western Illinois Leathernecks in the second half at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones beat the Leathernecks 37-3. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-US PRESSWIRE
Heading into this game, the goals seemed simple enough; run up the score on a vastly inferior opponent, put an end to the QB controversy, and get the backups some playing time. Two out of three isn't bad, but with two weeks until Texas Tech comes to town, we've got all the time in the world to freak out like the hypochondrial fan base we have been conditioned to be.
On a day which saw AIRBHG strike down two more tailbacks wearing black and gold out east, Cyclone runningbacks put on a damn clinic. James White scored the game's first touchdown on a 56 yard run straight up the middle - once free of the line seemed to kick up into another gear and blew by a very embarassed safety. With all of the various substitutions at QB and RB, 9 different players ultimately contributed to 264 total rushing yards.
Once ISU was comfortably ahead, in came DeVondrick Nealy, who once beat up Scut Farkus in a fight and who will be carrying the load in two years after the Phallic Trio depart for the NFL, CFL, and other various places. Turns out, he's pretty good too - picking up 70 yards on 9 carries, moving the offense down the field even as the playcalling turned conservative and Rhoads ran out the clock on a lopsided victory.
Special teams looked fantastic as well. I am 100% convinced that Kirby Van Der Kamp should be a Ray Guy finalist, and he pinned the Leathernecks deep at the 16, the 8, and the 1. Aaron Horne came very close to returning an early W. Illinois punt, and Edwin Arceo went 4/4 on XPs and knocked in a 49 yarder. Considering how things panned out the last time Texas Tech came to town, having a decided advantage on special teams should prove helpful.
Finally, I have to admit that I was pretty satisfied with Cyclones.tv and their coverage of this game. As a displaced Iowan, I've seen the various iterations of the Cyclone web experience (including last year's disaster of a Missouri game) and this was a far upgrade from where the athletic department was at just 10 short months ago. It didn't have all the polish of a major broadcast network production, but it was at least as good as some of the crap we've seen pass as coverage on the Big Ten Network. The inclusion of a scoreboard made all the difference, and I'll be interested to see how it works for non-conference basketball games.
Remember how fun last season was once the QB arguments started? Get ready to start having them again. Jantz looked like his old self last night, complete with boneheaded interceptions and mediocre success with the zone read. Barnett, on the few snaps he got, looked like the master of the zone read - right up until he threw an interception as well. After that, it was mostly 3rd stringers on both sides, and I'm not prepared to judge Sam Richardson's performance against Western Illinois' benchwarmers. (Although somewhere, someone on CycloneFanatic is starting the "**~~OFFICIAL WHY SAM RICHARDSON SHOULD BE STARTING QB THREAD ~~**")
And it's going to get worse, because we have two weeks until Texas Tech. That's two full weeks of literally nothing to talk about except who would make less mistakes as a quarterback (still Barnett) and who is the better overall quarterback (still Jantz) and why Texas Tech is so much better than Iowa State (Still Ubben). So sit back, settle in, and prepare for two more weeks secure in the knowledge that we are 3-0 and have the chance to enter Big 12 play if enough teams lose next week. (As of today's AP poll, we recieved 15 votes and there are 7 teams between us as #25.)