"It’s a tough pill to swallow – but the reality is, we got outplayed." Those are the words of Coach Matt Campbell in the post-game press conference.
God damn right you got outplayed, Coach. And that pill you choked on was that of a Division I-AA opponent that has 13 less scholarships and the only reason they come to Ames is for a big fat check.
Let’s walk through this debacle in what may be another rebuilding season at the helm for Cyclone football.
What Went Well
Offense: Junior Joel Lanning passed his way to 256 yards through the air and three beautiful touchdowns. His decision-making was consistent, evident by 18 pass completions in 28 attempts, mostly looking for the likes of Allen Lazard. Lazard added to his consecutive games with a reception, catching 6 balls for 129 yards and a magnificent 40-yard bomb in the back of the end zone.
We saw Manning really looking to get the ball to his playmakers – especially Lazard and Trever Ryen. Warren caught a few balls out of the backfield, but was bottled up in the run game.
Defense: The Cyclone defense collectively combined for 11 tackles for loss, including 3 sacks. Leading the way was weak-side linebacker Reggan Northrup with 13 total tackles, and one of those sacks. Even the casual fan could see that the speed getting to the ball was better, and the defensive line gained pressure up the middle, holding most runs to a minimum between the tackles.
Brian Peavy proved yet again he is one of the best cornerbacks in the conference, shutting down UNI’s top receiver, and I am confident to go to battle with our safeties Mike Johnson and Kamari Cotton-Moya, as both played superbly on Saturday night.
What Went Wrong
Offense: As stated above, the inability to open up holes in the running game killed any chance for sustained drives. Lanning did a good job escaping pressure, but was also under duress all night. The momentum was never in the hands of the Cyclones, and they seemed to always play from behind.
The quick and short passing game was eaten up by UNI’s fast and fundamentally-sound defense, but the intermediate and deep balls were won time and again by the Cyclones, whether it was a long touchdown or pass interference call (the stripes missed a few others too).
Defense: The defensive line got tired in the second half, as the Panthers started to gain more yards up the middle, but the biggest problem was tackling #15 for the other team. Outside contain looked awful at times, as the linebackers and defensive backs took horrible angles to tackle Aaron Bailey, and their pressure up front was negated by the lack of speed on the outside.
While I was pleasantly surprised at all the new faces on the field, I was mildly disappointed when some of our best players were taken off it. Jaquan Bailey looked good at times, and it seemed like we did a complete line change on third downs – taking out the Dorm Fridge, Demond Tucker. I don’t know about you – but I think you gotta keep the big fella in there on third downs.
Special Teams: Netten missed an extra point…. Thought those days were over.
Special Teams: F
Don’t worry y’all – we get to go play the trolls from the east side of the state next – it’s Hate Week!