Iowa State had multiple opportunities on Saturday against Kansas State, yet they didn’t convert enough to knock off the Wildcats from Kansas State. After falling behind 31-10, the Cyclones didn’t keel over and die. Instead, they mounted a furious comeback just to come up short by a score of 31-26.
Here’s the breakdown of the good, bad, and ugly results.
What Went Right
It has been known that ISU is a 45-minute team throughout the first 7 games, but they proved all doubters wrong on Saturday. While Kansas State did not display the type of aggressiveness they had in the first 3 quarters, ISU showed they can make stops too, holding the Wildcats to 9 total yards and even a tackle-for-loss in the end zone for a safety in the 4th quarter.
The coaching staff has tried to find ways to get Jacob Park in the game all season, and yesterday they gave him the keys to the car. Park was given his chance to do everything on Saturday; whether it was start drives, finish them, or make mistakes, but no matter which way, it is clear he is now the front-runner at quarterback.
The sophomore completed 19 of 35 passes and went over the 300-yard mark, along with two passing touchdowns and a meaningless interception. His accuracy was sharp, his decisions on-point, and he even almost accounted for his own receiving touchdown. I am amazed at the arm strength that he possesses, as there are a handful of sideline throws that only a few passers can make look as easy as Park did.
Park was able to spread it amongst multiple receivers, most of the time looking for Allen Lazard (8 grabs for 143 yards) and Deshaunte Jones (5 for 43 and 2 scores). Carson Epps also made a beautiful grab down the sidelines for a 39-yard hookup.
Park and Joel Lanning switched off and on between possessions, during drives, and from inside and outside the red zone. Park moved the ball through the air, while Lanning did so with his feet, leading the Cyclones with 74 yards rushing on 10 carries a touchdown.
The defense, while it struggled mightily in the 1st and 3rd quarters, stepped it up big time in the 4th. Leading the team in tackles was Kamari Cotton-Moya, who has been fighting a nagging injury all season, but was healthy on Saturday. Jhaustin Thomas changed the momentum of the game in a split-second, and Kane Seeley cleaned it up, as the two combined for a safety when the team needed it the most.
Cole Netten made his only field-goal attempt of the day, and Chris Francis showed that he is a stalwart at onside kicks, recovering his own kick to start the second half. Netten was a half-yard away from garnering a second one for Iowa State.
What Went Wrong
I don’t know what is wrong with Mike Warren, but our talented sophomore tailback is in the doghouse, as he only had 6 touches on the day.
When asked about Warren’s usage in the post-game press conference, Matt Campbell said the following:
“We had a chance to win the football game. Next question.”
Since then, media reports have come out with an ankle sprain and #2 is questionable to play on Thursday. Either way, there is something going on with Warren, and he and the coaching staff need to work through it.
What we expected all day of a Kansas State football team was to sustain long drives and convert third-downs in the running game. Well, they were on point, successfully converting on 6 of their first 7 third-downs. The Wildcats were also able to romp over ISU’s depleted defense at 5.7 yards per carry, on their way to 247 yards on the ground.
That consistent and successful rushing attack also gave K-State a massive advantage in time of possession, holding the ball for nearly 9 minutes longer than the Cyclones after 3 quarters. Jesse Ertz perfected his best Halloween impersonation of Colin Klein, pounding the Cyclones for 106 yards on the ground and multiple third-down conversions.
There were a few missed opportunities in this one, and ISU was unable to come through.
The first one was a 40-yard dart thrown from Park to talented receiver Trever Ryen in the first half, only to see Ryen drop the pass in what was most likely a surefire touchdown.
The other huge missed opportunity was when ISU was down two scores and was unable to punch the ball in the end zone on FOUR consecutive plays at the goal line. After three runs were stuffed, ISU mixed it up and called a perfect run/pass play for Park, and he overthrew his receiver by a mile.
Ugh, that was embarrassing.
Other than that, it was like every other Kansas State football game we have played in. From a fan’s perspective, it was clear the talent is pretty even, yet K-State didn’t kill themselves. They instead let ISU shoot its own foot multiple times.
Special Teams: A-
The Cyclones get a short week of rest, as they play Bobby Stoops and the Oklahoma Sooners on Thursday.