Well, who saw that coming? Hell, who am I kidding? We all did.
Watching Jake Waters leap into the end zone (the second time), twisting the knife deep into the guts of yet another packed house at Jack Trice Stadium was about as flooring a result as holding a late 15-point lead to begin with.
And all the while (if you're anything like me) you kept thinking about how on one side of the field stood a stoic, confident, unshakable Bill Snyder. On the other side stood the Iowa State Cyclones, frequent guests of the Heartbreak Hotel, immersed deep into a culture of losing and jimmy kicks for longer than any of us care to think about. It's sad, really, when you begin to wonder if simply holding a late lead over a decent opponent is "too good to be true."
But that's what it was. After all, when Charles Jones found his way across the goal line with with 8:01 left in the game, the Cyclones hadn't scored in nearly 24 minutes of play. You start throwing around words like "fluke" or "accident" and suddenly, as quickly as it all came to be in our favor, it was ripped away. So it goes.
What Went Well
For the second week in a row Iowa State got their scoring, shall we say, "out of the way" in the first half. It wasn't as much of the quick start as we witnessed against North Dakota State (it requires a special level of suck to go scoreless for the final 44 minutes of a game after jumping out to a two-score lead), but the offense was balanced and firing on all cylinders relatively early; you know, after they spotted Kansas State a cool 13.
I think there's something to be said about Mark Mangino being on the sideline for this one. Making yourself available to the rest of the team and staff goes a long way in helping hold your players (and yourself) accountable as a coach. That, and the ability to communicate directly with all 11 of your guys on the field at any given time is something I hope to see more of going forward. Whatever his reasoning was for being in the booth against NDSU (someone enlighten me if you know), it shouldn't be a concern the rest of the way.
Jarvis West at long last is being utilized properly on this team. The poor guy has 10 games (OR MAYBE 11 BECAUSE THE SEASON ISN'T OVER YET, RIGHT GUYS?) left in his career, and this is finally an offense he can thrive in. I only recall one dropped pass on a ball that was thrown behind him, otherwise West was a vacuum, running flawless routes and finding soft spots in K-State's defense at will. For Jarvis, 8-75-1 is the kind of line he should be posting weekly, especially in Quenton Bundrage's absence the rest of the way. And hell, if he could sprinkle one of these and a few of these in every once in awhile, I wouldn't complain.
Finally, Mangino kinda sorta committed to the run. Thanks for at least hearing us, Beefcastle. Sam Richardson came in at third on the team in rushing this week (as he probably should), and Aaron Wimberly and DeVondrick Nealy combined for 24 carries despite the lower-than-desired output. I'm not saying it went a long way in helping open up the field for Richardson, but we did see Sam completing a higher percentage of his passes, making better decisions, and not running for his life as much this week. Hard not to attribute that, at least in part, to establishing something on the ground and doing so consistently.
What Went Wrong
Yet again, the offense stalled.
Even for the 319 yards of offensive production I just crowned Richardson, West & Co. for (which still isn't setting the world on fire by any means), it simply wasn't distributed evenly enough to keep this Iowa State team in a game with this Kansas State team. When North Dakota State racked up over 500 yards of offense last week, the game plan for the Wildcats immediately became extinguishing Waters-to-Lockett, but more critically, matching them score for score. Simply put, neither happened, and especially late in the game.
Second, Kansas State was bailed out by an interception by Randall Evans that, well, wasn't. By now, you've certainly seen the photo, the legitimacy of which I've been feverishly trying to research with little luck. What else can you say at this point other than it's knees to the groin like this one that define Cyclone football these days. A minute and 14 seconds later, K-State marched 54 yards, took the lead and shifted momentum to the guys in purple and white.
Finally, Iowa State allowed Waters to have everything he wanted. Further, they failed to take away his most lethal weapon in Tyler Lockett, and that's a mistake will doom all 10 teams that have yet to face the Wildcats this season. It's probably due lack of "watching film" (which I just don't do on a regular basis), but Waters was far more mobile on Saturday than I had anticipated. He certainly wasn't as patient and bullish a runner as his predecessor Collin Klein, but that's not necessarily a quality you need to have against a defense that, as KnowDan reminded us in his Farmageddon preview, is just fundamentally bad.
The Good Stat
Duh. Jarvis West: 8 receptions, 75 yards, 1 TD; punt return TD; 1/1 passing, 29 yards, 1 TD, ASTRONOMICAL QB RATING
The Bad Stat
Kick returns: 5 returns, 71 yards (14.2 per), 21-yard long
The Ugly Stat
Aaron Wimberly: 14 carries, 37 yards (2.6 per)
The Confusing Stat
Even sans Bundrage and with West drawing most of the attention from the defense, Dondre Daley: an inexplicable zero catches after a five-catch performance last week