Just when we all thought things were getting better, we got a kick between the legs and were sent back to reality.
Iowa State led 6-3 at half. We knew the offense needed to get more points on the board. The defense was playing well, creating an early turnover and limiting Texas to practically nothing. The score wasn’t great, but we sure felt good about what was happening and Charlie Strong all but had the moving trucks in his driveway.
What we were not prepared for was the 24-point onslaught that Texas came out with in the second half. Though, considering the previous two weeks’ 4th-quarter performances, maybe we did expect it. Texas’ talent and depth took over in the second half and Iowa State could not muster up any points.
What Went Right
Hey, special teams looked good! Although Cole Netten missed one kick, he continues to be automatic from under 50 yards. Collin Downing continues to flip the field position when the offense fails. He averaged more than 46 yards a punt on 7 attempts. Kene Nwangwu continues to be a breath of fresh air on kickoff returns. His long on the night was 47 yards and he averaged more than 27 per return. Iowa State is going to need that kind of production moving forward.
The growth of the true freshmen is starting to show despite the losses piling up. Deshaunte Jones has gotten better every week. He had a game-high 5 receptions for 87 yards and is getting more targets every week. Another true freshman, JaQuan Bailey, tallied another sack on the year and is looking more comfortable as the year moves on.
Defensively, Kane Seeley and Willie Harvey had a big game. Texas likes to run the ball right at its opponents, and both of these guys making more than 10 tackles each shows they were there early in their run fits. Seeley also tallied an interception on the night.
What Went Wrong
Do we have all day? It is pretty evident that Matt Campbell’s bunch took a step back on Saturday night.
The offensive line was overmatched from the start. The ability of Iowa State to move the ball hinges on the performance of the offensive line. This week, they took a step backwards. Texas’ defensive line was getting penetration at will and disrupting plays before they got started. Penalties in the redzone by linemen never help either.
Play-calling was questionable at times. We have seen this happen from time to time this year. The offense gets in a groove and Tom Manning will switch things up and the offense stalls out. I especially thought this happened when Iowa State visited the red zone in the first half. If the Cyclones are going to grow and win some games, the coaching staff can’t be so quick to abandon what was successful early on in games.
Second half woes continued to strike. If the NCAA switched to just first-half games then Iowa State would more than likely be ranked right now. The Cyclones move the ball well and play great defense in first halves, then the wheels completely fall off and all hell breaks lose. This game was more of the same. Missed tackles, lack of pressure and blown coverages all bit the Cyclones. It shows, as Texas ran for more than 200 yards and threw for 296.
When the Clones came out for the second half, they left it all in the locker room. Why can’t we just have a killer instinct and come out fired up late in a game? I hope to see that change soon; these games would be a lot more fun to watch.
What To Look Forward To
This season isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. We all know that. We’re playing the rest of the games for the future; building a team that will make a run at bowl games in the future.
Continue to keep an eye on some of the true freshmen. Their growth the rest of the year is going to be an exciting thing to watch. Also, will the offensive line make strides like they did against Baylor and Oklahoma State, or will they regress?
My final thing to watch for as we move forward... Second half scoring. We have a week off before we play Kansas State. The bye should allow us to get healthy and come into that game with fresher legs so we can be in the game to the end.
Don’t give up on this team just yet.