That wasn’t fun. Let’s cut right to it. Here are three things we learned from last night’s loss to Texas.
1. We’re Never Going to Settle on a Quarterback
I like Joel Lanning’s running ability and I like Jacob Park’s throwing ability. Both of Iowa State’s quarterbacks made some plays last night, but neither stood out. Park made a really nice play to avoid a sack and fire a deep pass to Carson Epps, who couldn’t come down with the catch.
Overall, Lanning finished 12/21 passing with 140 yards and an additional 12 yards on the ground. Park was 7/13 through the air for 42 yards. Both Lanning and Park were sacked and pressured all night in the pocket, which certainly hurts their numbers. Neither QB threw a touchdown or an interception. This was a lot like the Iowa State-Iowa game for the quarterbacks; neither QB did anything to stand out and the offense as a whole looked pretty weak.
With the upcoming bye week and four home games in the last five to finish the season, I think we’ll see the two QB system for the rest of the year. I’m personally a fan of Jacob Park getting the starting job, but for now I can tolerate the two QB system.
2. Next Year Can’t Come Soon Enough
I say this at the risk of sounding like a Cubs fan (which is a terrible thing to be), but I can’t help but feel that next year will be miles better than this year. Assuming the offensive line stays relatively healthy like it has this season — aside from Campos’ injury — I think that unit will be strongly improved.
After this year, Iowa State loses a number of good players who have made solid contributions so far, including Demond Tucker, Jhaustin Thomas, Cole Netten, Dondre Daley, Jomal Wiltz, Nick Fett, and some others. However, most of Iowa State’s skill positions will be the same or better than this year. Iowa State keeps both starting QBs, its top three RBs, its top three WRs, both starting LBs, and most of the top DBs. The offensive and defensive lines, which have been the two biggest problems for Iowa State in my opinion, are the positions where the Cyclones are bringing in new blood.
It will take some time for the incoming linemen to gain weight and get up to speed, but at the very least Iowa State should have an O-Line as good as this year’s. My dream involves an Iowa State team playing in December (or January) of the 2018 season with a team led in passing by Jacob Park, in rushing by Mike Warren, David Montgomery and Kene Nwangwu, receiving by Deshaunte Jones and Hakeem Butler, and sacks by JaQuan Bailey. These guys can be the present and the future if they’re surrounded with the right talent.
3. Tom Manning Will be a Great Offensive Coordinator
In his first year as OC, coaching a young and inexperienced team without its best offensive lineman, Tom Manning has taken big strides. Each week I’ve noted the production and number of opportunities for Mike Warren and Allen Lazard, two skill players Iowa State has that every team around the country would love to have on their rosters.
Even though the results weren’t there against Texas, I was generally impressed with the playcalling. Deshaunte Jones and Allen Lazard combined for 12 receptions and 152 yards. Mike Warren got 18 carries, four more than Joel Lanning and 12 more than David Montgomery. The problem was the O-line, which gave up eight sacks and couldn’t create running lanes.
At some point, you have to take a step back and realize that Iowa State’s offense had scored 39 points per game in the three weeks leading up to the game at Texas and won only one of those three games. Manning’s offensive gameplans have gotten better as the season has worn on (with the Texas game as a small setback), which should be exciting for all fans going forward.
With two weeks between games, Iowa State now has more time to prepare for Kansas State and to get guys like Trever Ryen and Allen Lazard a bit more rest. Kansas State is a well-coached team but I’m confident Iowa State’s coaches can rise to the occasion and get their first Big 12 win.
Manning’s gameplan will be interesting, as Kansas State doesn’t run the same up-tempo offense that’s used by several Big 12 teams. Will Manning try to speed up the game with quick playcalling and lots of short passes? Will he want to slow it down and control the game with Lanning and Warren on the ground? Will Park see the field as Iowa State tries spread Kansas State out wide with Lazard, Ryen and Jones? While there will almost certainly be some combination of all three, the result of the Kansas State game largely rests on the shoulders of Tom Manning.
What did you learn from last night’s beatdown by Texas? Let us know in the comments.