Matt Campbell and company started off the 2017 season with a 42-24 win over Northern Iowa. Although the outcome was what the fans wanted, there are a few things Iowa State can clean up and build from.
1. The offense’s slow start shouldn’t concern you
It is no secret that Iowa State’s offense got off to a slow start. The first four drives Iowa State had 63 total yards and punted each time. It took until 2:51 left in the second quarter for David Montgomery to punch it in.
Though I still think Iowa State’s strong point is their offense. The fact they had such a tough time getting in a rhythm was odd. Play calling was a bit safe, but they plays were there and success was more so a matter of execution. To counter, the offense did move the ball at will in the second half using various offensive lineman. Tom Manning found the right group late in the year last year and I think he will do just that even quicker this year.
Though it was tough to watch them punt four possessions in a row, this offense will take off and carry this Iowa State team. It will have to against Iowa on Saturday.
2. Defense has made strides
The defense was the concerning part of this Iowa State team coming into the 2017 season. Northern Iowa drove down the field with ease on the first series of the game, and worried many Cyclone fans. Luckily, Jon Heacock used different packages throughout the game, and his defense returned two interceptions for touchdowns and picked off another pass in the first half.
Joel Lanning at linebacker? He looked the part minus a few tackles he missed due to dropping his head and losing the ball carrier. His strong point may be blitzing, as he made a few strong plays, including one in which he was the primary pressure on Willie Harvey’s interception returned for a touchdown.
The secondary was solid but not great. They would show flashes of brilliance, then follow it up by allowing the Northern Iowa receivers to gash them. The first game always tends to show these kind of things, but once the secondary is in full stride, they will be one of the Big 12’s best units.
3. David Montgomery is going to a problem for opposing defenses
In my eyes, David Montgomery was the most impressive Cyclone on the field Saturday night. Although he didn’t reach the 100 yard mark, most of his runs were made with pure effort and force. You can see one example below.
By my count, David Montgomery came down on the sixth attempted tackle. Alluded three, spun off the fourth, juked a fifth. pic.twitter.com/QQJWH5A8Wy— Alex Halsted (@AlexHalsted) September 3, 2017
100 yard games will come this season for Montgomery, but if he runs the ball like he did on Saturday night, the bruising and elusive back will be a nightmare for opposing defense. Not to mention, he will get his breaks with Mike Warren spelling him from time to time.
Overall, I liked what I saw from Iowa State in their first game. It wasn’t all pretty but it was a step in the right direction. The coaching staff certainly has a few things they can bring to the team's attention to work on for next week.