Life in Cyclone Country has settled in to a familiar routine: see game on schedule, watch game play out, go home with a loss and cursing something about that game.
Things were no different after TCU came to Ames and put a stranglehold on Iowa State's squad in the second half on Saturday night. The topic du jour earlier this week was, "Why did Joel Lanning not see the field more on Saturday?" It's a fair question, but it's also a short sighted one if you know anything about Paul Rhoads and his version of Cyclone football.
It's a Matter of Timing
Here's what we know: Lanning played one series on Saturday and threw a touchdown to Allen Lazard. That type of play earns a player more time on the field, but let's back up here and break down a couple reasons why he deserves more playing time and why he doesn't.
Reason to Play #1: He threw the damn ball
Remember Keyshawn Johnson's "just give me the damn ball" mantra? The same applies to Iowa State's playmakers. Mike Warren is getting a litany of touches now, but there's a talented group of guys led by Lazard on the outside. Lanning finally showed us some promise by throwing a ball only Lazard was catching. The sprint and ensuing touchdown were just icing on the cake.
Reason NOT to Play #1: That's not special
Sam Richardson is maligned by just about everyone right now, but he made similar plays throughout the night against TCU. First play of the game he hit Dondre Daley on a scramble for a long gain, he had Quenton Bundrage on one-on-one coverage in the end zone that was a touchdown had it not been for a late strip by the TCU defender, and he followed that up by hitting Bundrage on a crucial 3rd down conversion between three defenders.
Reason to Play #2: Can it get much worse?
Actually it can. We've had redshirt freshmen quarterbacks spoil us before. Jared Barnett was the quarterback for three of Iowa State's most productive offensive games ever, and wasn't even a starter by the end of the 2012 campaign. Then Richardson is the most divisive quarterback in the fan base since I've been following Iowa State.
Who says Lanning is different? There's no film on the man, and the film that does exist is a wildcat-esque package that Paul Rhoads admitted TCU had figured out as soon as Lanning came in the game. Once he plays a few games the apparent strengths will be negated by better teams.
Reason NOT to Play #2: This staff will ruin him
Barnett and Richardson were ruined by a staff that doesn't know how to use their legs properly and toyed with their confidence. Who says Lanning won't end up the same? If we want to see this kid hit his potential then let's save him for the next staff to mold. That said...
Lanning Might Be the Future
I liked his timing against Texas Tech's scrubs a few weeks ago. I liked how he threw the ball up to make a play with Lazard as his target. I like that Joel apparently just knows football. Those are all traits you want in a quarterback, and now it's a matter of seasoning. If an offensive minded coach comes in this offseason I will be excited to see what the LANRAM can look like next season.
He Also Might Not Be
A few weeks back I theorized in a Twitter conversation that a JUCO QB was the right idea for the Cyclones. Rumors of a Grant Rohach transfer exist and we don't quite know what we have with Lanning yet.
The right coach will figure out that Lanning has the potential to be a Colin Klein-esque quarterback who's just as dangerous with his legs as his arm. Plus he already has a better arm from a strength standpoint than Klein ever did.
This Staff Has Lost Me Completely
I was already at that point after the god awful game planning and in game adjustments against Texas Tech, but it finally fell to pieces on Saturday. Let's go through some of the finer points on Saturday:
Lanning's Throw: Fantastic, give a guy a chance to make a play, I can't say enough about this, but Rhoads can. On Monday he said the throw "probably" shouldn't have been made. So despite a playmaker making a play with another playmaker this probably shook down to another poor grade from the staff.
The 1st Quarter: What a great, load blowing, emptying the chamber quarter. We had a fake punt, a quarterback sneak on 1st down, a long TD reception, and a surprise onside kick!
Dave Lapham's call of Rhoads "unloading the chamber" against Texas in 2010 is still one of my favorite metaphors and at the time described Rhoads' coaching style perfectly. For a quarter on Saturday night we thought it was back.
Then we get to the 2nd half, punt on 4th and 3 from TCU's side of the field, and back against the wall, fearing for his job Rhoads was back in full force.
This was the college equivalent of a freshman getting the hot chick back to his place, giving her the ride of her life for two minutes, and passing out after his two cups of jungle juice. As a freshman you get a high five for the effort, as a senior you get ridiculed for days. Welcome to senioritis, Paul.
This program has one win against a Top 5 team all-time, and that win came from great gameplanning, some well-timed turnovers, and a belief that every stop had to be pulled to win the game. Sometime in the past four years that mentality disappeared.
Watch These Coaches
These guys might be in our future, and here's what they're doing to make themselves worth it.
Justin Fuente, Head Coach, Memphis: Just your run of the mill, two touchdown win over a top 15 team. Fuente was one of our early mentions, but with two more Top 25 match ups on the horizon (at Houston, at Temple) it's likely he's at a southern school not named Memphis in 2016.
Tom Herman, Head Coach, Houston: The former Iowa State Offensive Coordinator has Houston at 6-0 behind the arms and legs of quarterback Greg Ward Jr. The November 14th date with Memphis might decide who the Group of 5 representative is in one of the New Year's Day Six bowls.
Jeff Brohm, Head Coach, Western Kentucky: The older brother of former Louisville standout Brian Brohm, and Bobby Petrino disciple, has WKU sitting at 6-1 with the lone loss being a shootout loss to Indiana. The Hilltoppers travel to Death Valley this weekend for a match up with #5 LSU.
Matt Campbell, Head Coach, Toledo: A man who needs no introduction to this fan base, Campbell has Toledo at 6-0 and 19th in the country. The MAC is down this year, but Toledo is just as much in the mix for the Group of 5 spot as any other undefeated. Campbell is an offensive minded coach who brings a run first approach to his offense, something a consistently outmanned team like Iowa State could use.
Matt Wells, Head Coach, Utah State: Older brother of former Iowa State WR coach Luke Wells. Matt Wells took over for Gary Anderson at Utah State in 2013 and is 23-11 since with a 2-0 bowl record. The Aggies are 4-2 this year with a 10 point loss to current Top 5 Utah and a loss to Washington.
Things to do Other Than Watching the Baylor Game
Iowa State plays Baylor at 11 AM on Saturday on ESPN. Avoiding this game will take effort, but I'm here to help.
- Hit your hand with a hammer for three hours
- Take a grad school exam (my option)
- Corey Coleman Drinking Game: This requires you to watch, but
- Take a drink for every time an ISU defender misses Coleman
- Finish your drink if he scores a touchdown
- Have 911 on speed dial
- Rake leaves, but blow away the pile when you're done and rake again. This game is going to take 4.5 hours.
- Watch the new Star Wars trailer 200 times in a row
- Go see the new Goosebumps movie. It's terribleness will make you realize things aren't that bad in Ames.
Lololololol, just kidding, we suck.