Matt Campbell garnered his first victory as a head coach at Iowa State, doing it in convincing fashion in a 44-10 rout of San Jose State on Saturday.
The game started off slow, embraced by a seesaw battle of field position; but a goal-line stand and an interception (one of four on the day for the good guys) changed momentum and ISU never looked back.
Everything seemed to go right on this beautiful day in Ames
What Went Right
The offense moved the ball with ease through the air – and it didn’t matter who was slinging it. Starter Joel Lanning went 5-for-8 for 136 yards and two beautiful deep touchdown throws. The first was a toe-touching grab by Allen Lazard in the back of the end-zone, while the second was a 3rd-and-11 seam route run perfectly by freshman Deshaunte Jones.
Jones was the star of the day, and led all receivers with 78 receiving yards on three grabs, hitting paydirt twice. In fact, there were six receivers with at least 3 catches in the game, as both Park and Lanning spread the ball out well. The other touchdowns were caught by Dondre Daley (on a perfect out-and-up route), and Trever Ryen in garbage time.
Park and Lanning continued to alternate 2 possessions at a time, and both were able to move the ball well. Park looked comfortable in the pocket, posting an impressive 15-for-19 performance, throwing darts and lasers all over the field for 165 yards and three touchdowns. He also tucked the ball on a read-option and sped his way downfield untouched for a 35-yard gain.
So far, the QB combo has succeeded, and I see it continuing that way for the foreseeable future. Mike Warren started off slow, but ended up wearing down a tired Spartan defense in the second half, running for 103 yards on 19 carries and his first touchdown of the year.
The defensive secondary was full of ball hawks on Saturday, collecting their first four interceptions on the year, playing aggressively not only in the back end, but also up front. In fact, the Cyclones corralled San Jose State quarterbacks four times for sacks, and totaled 10 tackles-for-loss.
Brian Mills led the way, with a sack and 2.5 TFL, while Kamari Cotton-Moya led in the tackle column with 11 stops on the day. All four picks were made by defensive backs, playing on their toes, antsy to change the momentum. And change the momentum they did – as ISU scored 23 points off their four forced turnovers.
What Went Wrong
San Jose State came into the game with a backup quarterback and tried to the get the run game going; and it worked, a lot. In fact, the Spartans’ offensive line paved the way for 23 first downs and 177 rushing yards, with the majority of runs behind two-tight end sets and a lead-blocking fullback.
But when San Jose State got in the red zone, the ISU defense stepped up. They forced turnovers and made a huge goal-line stand that forced a field goal and stopped SJSU from tying the game 7-7 early on.
The ineptitude of the defensive line was parlayed by the lack of speed by the linebacking crew, and kept the defense on the field waaaay too long. SJSU didn’t win the game, but they did win in time of possession. After three quarters, the Spartans held a 30- to 14-minute time advantage, and if ISU wants to have a chance against pass-happy offenses of the Big 12, they are going to have to keep the defense fresh.
While the offensive line picked it up in the fourth quarter, the first three quarters were quite inept. Mike Warren and the running game had little going, totaling 63 yards on the ground by running backs entering the fourth quarter. Again, if ISU wants to hang with the big boys, they are going to have to chew the clock and pound yards out on the ground.
While that was a bit nit-picky, it was clear the talent on the field Saturday overwhelmingly favored Iowa State. The Cyclones took advantage of their opportunities, and will look to use this win as momentum moving forward.
Special Teams was dominated by Trever Ryen, as the former walk-on nearly broke one for six right before halftime. Ryen totaled 116 yards on three returns, and flipped the field position battle in ISU’s favor.
Cole Netten continued his streak of successful field goals made, making his 12th in a row. On top of all this, punter Colin Downing didn’t screw up once!
A lot more positives than negatives in this one, folks.
Special Teams: B+