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The Cy-Hawk Postmortem

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ISU lost their first game of the year. Here's what went right, and what went horribly wrong

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The Cy-Hawk Trophy will make its sad and lowly trip back to Iowa City, making it the fourth game in a row the road team has won in the series.

Iowa 31, ISU 17 Statistics

It was a tale of two halves, as ISU outplayed the Hawkeyes in the first half, in tune to quarterback Sam Richardson going 12 for 15 with 186 passing yards and 2 touchdowns in the first two quarters. The ISU secondary held Iowa quarterback CJ Beathard to only 56 yards through the air, but he had two big runs that helped make Iowa look serviceable statistically. Other than that, the Cyclones dominated the first half.

The second half was all Iowa. With the injury to defensive tackle Demond Tucker, the Hawkeyes' offense got their zone run blocking scheme rolling, and outgained the Clones 232 to 63 yards on the ground. ISU did not cross midfield in the 3rd quarter, and if not for a Jordan Harris recovered fumble in the redzone, it might have been even uglier.

This game was much closer than the final score showed, but adjustments that were made in the locker room by Iowa and Kirk Ferentz proved to be too much for Paul Rhoads and his Cyclones.

What Went Well

Offense. Sam looked good in the first half, as he had time to throw and completed his passes at an 80% clip. He continued to look Allen Lazard’s way, as the sophomore wide receiver hauled in seven grabs for 71 yards. Quenton Bundrage had a quiet day with only one catch, but that catch happened to be a bullet TD pass on a beautiful post route in the first quarter.

Sophomore receiver Jauan Wesley returned from suspension and made his presence felt by catching four balls for 76 yards, and a SportsCenter highlight one-handed touchdown catch in the 2nd quarter.

New running back Trever Ryan continued to impress with his speed, and saw the field more in ISU’s 2-back set. He stretched a crossing route into a 53-yard catch-and-run in the 2nd quarter, and actually had the most rushing yards of any player in the game for Iowa State (which isn’t saying much).

Defense. This defensive line unit is for real. The "Sack Mamba" Dale Pierson lived up to his name by creating havoc in the backfield with two more sacks. He has five total now on the year, and almost got a safety in this game as well. Demond Tucker made one of the nastiest plays we have seen from the ISU defense in years by timing the snap count and tackling Beathard six yards behind the line of scrimmage before he had a chance to turn around from his play action drop back. The JUCO transfer's injury played a huge role in the outcome of this game.

Nickel/SAM linebacker Jarnor Jones looked like the best player on the field for this unit at times, displaying a type of speed we haven’t had in recent memory. He had two tackles for loss and a sack, and was all over the field throughout the game.

The Clones were led by safety Kamari Cotton-Moya's nine tackles, followed by Jones with eight and Jordan Harris with seven.

The secondary had an above average performance and were able to stay right with the Iowa receivers for most of the game. Most of Iowa’s long passes and touchdowns were thrown right on the money where only the guys in black and gold could make the catch, so credit to CJ Beathard for that. Otherwise, Iowa State's corners were glued to the Hawks' receivers for most short and mid routes.

Special Teams. Not much exciting happened in this area. Cole Netten made his only field goal attempt of 37 yards, and Collin Downing averaged 44.4 yards per punt.

What Went Wrong

Offense. Iowa State can't run the football. Tell me something we don’t already know... There were literally no holes to run through, no matter which of the three-headed running back group carried the ball, and anytime Sam tucked it and ran he was bottled up immediately. ISU ran for a disgusting 63 yards total and averaged 2.3 yards per carry. Woof.

While Richardson got everybody involved in the first half by hitting seven different receivers, the second half was a different story. He became the Sam of old where he stared down receivers, and specifically only looked at getting the ball to Lazard on many occasions.

The passing game fell apart in the second half, as the corners from Iowa shaded ISU’s receivers and forced Richardson into holding the ball for too long, which led to some sacks and bad decisions.

Disgusting performance run blocking by the offensive line. There's a ton of room for improvement on their end.

Defense. I was a bit surprised that Wally Burnham started the game with a 3-4 alignment, and was really surprised he didn’t move back to a 4-3 once Tucker got hurt. Backups Vernell Trent and Bobby Leath were serviceable, but not nearly the difference maker that Tucker is.

For Christ's sake, somebody tackle CJ Beathard! I don’t know if our players were scared of getting called for unnecessary roughness, but it was embarrassing to see that slow bastard run down the field and break as many tackles as he did.

The linebackers did an average job of wrapping up, but Iowa was already 4 and 5 yards down field before they made any contact with a red jersey.

Special Teams. The two-headed monster of Trever Ryan and Allen Lazard that combined for 193 punt return yards against UNI was held to exactly zero yards against the Hawks. Iowa’s Desmond King made a monster 34-yard punt return to put Iowa in great position to score the go-ahead TD in the fourth.

Offensive Grade: D+

The offensive line was putrid, Sam was inconsistent, and playmakers Bundrage and Montgomery did not get the ball in their hands enough. The receivers need to do a better job of handling press man coverage. We might as well line up and pass on every play.

Defense Grade: B-

They made some plays early and the secondary looked strong, but there were no adjustments made to stop the Iowa run game - even when everybody in the stands knew they were going to run it right down our throats.

Special Teams: C+

Cole made his field goal, but we didn’t do much in the return game

Turnovers Each team had one, but Iowa capitalized on their opportunity with a touchdown.

Penalties Iowa had 6 for 50, and ISU had 4 for 45. Amazingly, five of those Iowa penalties turned into first downs for the Cyclones.

Next up for Iowa State is a road trip to Toledo, who just knocked off #20 Arkansas on Saturday.