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Iowa State 44, Iowa 41: We Shall Overcome

As we are in the middle of a move, I am posting recaps for Mark Kieffer until we get over to SB Nation, so please direct your hate/love/dick pics his way.

-To the tune of "We Shall Overcome"

We shall o-ver-come, We shall o-ver-come,

We shall o-ver-come, fumbles and penalties

Deep In My Heart,

I do believe,

We shall o-ver-come, sloppy play

When I watched the opening drive from Iowa State, and I saw the team move the ball methodically down the field only to crap one down their legs and turn it over inside the 10, I figured we were in for another  typical, Cyclone-ish performance. When we fumbled it a 2nd time inside the 10, I debated whether I should get ready to make alternate plans that night. I just could not stomach another Iowa blow victory in such a craptastic fashion.

If you would have told me we would be have turned the ball over 2 more times, committed nearly double the penalties for  over double the yards, I would have told you it would be a blowout. So why/how did Iowa State win?

It was the combination of a couple of things. First: Dynamic QB Play. Steele Jantz turns it on when it matters most. It’s clear he’s the best QB we’ve had post Seneca Wallace, and the guy just does not quit on plays. What impresses me the most when I watch Jantz, is his ability to avoid pressure and to NOT give up on the play. When things break down, most QBs try to make a dash (which Jantz is capable of doing), but Jantz stays behind the line of scrimmage and continues to look downfield to make the throw. I have always believed a QB needs to be "pass first" with the threat to run when needed, and Jantz fits that bill. When Iowa State faces 3rd and 15, 3rd and 20, and 4th and goal on the final drive of regulation, any other Cyclone team probably would not have converted in any 1 of those situations, let alone all 3. Jantz is the primary reason why they were able to convert, and although the credit goes to the WRs for getting open and hauling down the pass, Jantz’s patience and poise allowed for Iowa State to be successful.

The next factor was that Iowa State was able to attack Iowa on the outside. The WRs and the tackles blocked well. Iowa State did not have much success right up the middle, but on sweeps, options, and QB scrambles, Iowa State was able to consistently break contain.  I can understand that Iowa State’s receivers were able to seal off the corners, and the fact that Iowa State is solid at the tackle position, but what blew my mind (in a positive way) was the fact that Iowa did have a spy on Jantz.  I do know that starting out, Iowa State was pretty conservative on offense but gradually opened things up. Perhaps that gradual release of opening things up threw off the Iowa coaching staff?

Lastly what contributed to the win, was Iowa’s conservatism. In OT, ISU was not able to stop Iowa on the ground. I remember when Iowa got it to 37-38, I thought they ought to go for 2. Iowa was able to get 2 yards on the ground consistently, and you might as well try to end the game right there. Fortunately, Kirk plays an uber-conservative game and the thought probably never crossed his mind.

But really, probably the most fun thing about the game was listening to the TV guys talk about how Iowa does not beat themselves for 60 minutes. Only to have Iowa beat themselves in dropping a sure 1st down in that 3rd OT, leading to the field goal attempt.

I’m thrilled about the win. I can’t believe the team was able to overcome the self-defeating type of adversity they faced, and found a way to rally and get the W.

At the end of the UNI game, I felt down on the O-Line, Jantz, and the D-Line.  After watching this Iowa game, doubt is erased from my mind regarding Jantz. It’s clear he’s extremely capable, and his performance is right up there with some of the best Iowa State has had at the position.

I am still somewhat down on the O-Line. There were some silly penalties (I know at least 1 or  2 was due to Osemele’s injury, but there were still some dumb ones), and while Iowa State did run the ball effectively at times, they still were only able to get 3.7 yards/carry. The pass protection was pretty good, allowing only 1 sack, and allowing Jantz time to run around and find the open guy, but I still would like to see rushing averages a little higher.

Additionally, I still feel about the same with the D-Line. The difference between stopping the run or not was whether the linebackers were able to step up and make the play or not. Iowa State’s defense played better from the 2nd quarter on, but I felt like the guys up front were exposed late in the game. Vandenberg had time to make throws; he just made some crappy throws and/or Iowa receivers dropped the ball.

It will be interesting to see how the team fares this Friday against UConn. The Huskies like to keep it on the ground, and Iowa State’s run D will be tested.