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3 Things we Learned from the Kansas State Game

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YAY FOR MORAL VICTORIES

NCAA Football: Kansas State at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

1. Jacob Park is our QB

I’ve been on the Park bandwagon for a few weeks now. I appreciate Joel Lanning’s skillset and from all accounts, Lanning is a good teammate. However, Park has the better arm. I think he’s the better passer of the two. Lanning’s running ability is appealing to any coaching staff, but I think Iowa State is better off with a thrower rather than a runner taking snaps.

Park took the majority of smaps today and I thought the offense looked very good in the second half with him leading the way. He reached 300 yards (301 to be exact) and threw two touchdowns. His one interception wasn’t ideal, but at least it was on a deep throw that essentially counted as a punt.

The big play that many people will focus on is the missed touchdown in the fourth quarter on 4th down right at the goalline. The receiver was WIDE OPEN and Park missed him. It was bad. But I’m choosing to focus on Park’s positives here. Iowa State wouldn’t have been in this game if not for Park’s second half play. Park has the ability to hit Allen Lazard and Deshaunte Jones when they burn their defenders and he showed that today as those two receivers combined for 13 catches, 177 yards and two touchdowns. Because of that, I think Park is the QB this team needs.

2. This team has a Mike Warren problem

I’m not going to pretend to know what’s going on behind the scenes here, but something’s up. Warren had only six carries against K-State. He had 30 carries against Baylor earlier this season and two weeks ago against Texas he had 18. He’s shown the ability to be a workhorse on gameday, so why is he suddenly struggling to even get on the field?

I like David Montgomery a lot. Same with Kene Nwangwu, although I think Nwangwu is best suited as a full-time kick returner this season. I don’t really care who gets the majority of the team’s carries, but I do know the running game against K-State was not ideal.

Joel Lanning had ten carries, Montgomery had nine, and Warren and Park each had six. Lanning was mostly effective as a runner which was a big plus. What I don’t understand is the lack of run plays. Iowa State gained 5.0 yards per carry on Saturday. All four players who carried the football had at least one run of 10+ yards, so there were some explosive plays as well. I just don’t understand how the two running backs only got a combined 15 carries. Montgomery and Warren combined for 73 yards on those 15 carries, good for a 4.9 YPC average. That’s pretty damn good.

Iowa State also gained 339 yards through the air so it’s not like the passing game was ineffective, which is to say I’m complaining about something that probably doesn’t need to be fixed. I just don’t think it makes sense to give Warren a mere six touches when he’s averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Montgomery was the primary back against K-State, and while I’m fine with that, it’s a pretty clear sign that Mike Warren is in the doghouse for some reason. I’m not going to speculate on why he’s in the doghouse, but the numbers speak for themselves. A very talented and productive third year running back has been demoted to a lesser role in favor of a true freshman.

As long as Montgomery remains productive I’m fine with the change, but I do think the coaching staff needs to be careful with how they handle this situation -- Warren is one of the few proven players on this roster and I don’t know if it’s smart to limit his carries.

3. This team didn’t give up

It’s hard to keep relying on moral victories. I get that. It’s frustrating as a fan and it’s obviously more frustrating for the players and coaches. However, there was a spark in this team in the 4th quarter. When adversity hit (the failed drive at the goalline, the 21-point deficit, etc.) this team kept fighting. If this were week two or three, I don’t think the defense would’ve forced a safety right after the offense blew an easy touchdown. They would’ve put their heads down and used the offense’s failure as an excuse.

Instead, this team fought, and fought, and fought. The onside kick to start the second half was a brilliant call by the coaching staff. When you’re 1-6, what do you have to lose? I liked the urgency in the second half. It felt like a team that wanted to win, and that hasn’t always been the case this season. Rather than wondering, “what’s going to go wrong next?” it looked like the team was wondering, “what can we do to turn this around?”

Iowa State was on the attack in the second half. I don’t know if that had been the case even once this season until yesterday. They looked like a team that had pride and had something to prove. Hopefully that continues for the rest of the season and beyond.