Iowa State knew at the start of its Homecoming matchup with Oklahoma State that their Farmageddon Rivals in Manhattan gifted them a big boost in the Big 12 race with an upset win over Oklahoma. With Texas struggling against Kansas last week (and eventually losing to TCU this week), it seemed that Iowa State could control its own destiny on a road to the Big 12 Championship Game. Not to be forgotten about, however, Oklahoma State had other ideas for this October weekend.
What Went Right
2nd Half Defense
We’ve seen this Iowa State defense under Jon Heacock tighten up and make plays in the 2nd half. No game more telling than this past Saturday against Chuba Hubbard, Tylan Wallace, Spencer Sanders, and the Oklahoma State offense. After giving up scoring plays of 50, 65, and 71 yards in the first half, the 3 biggest plays for OSU the rest of the game were 30, 12, and 13 yard gains. Mike Rose especially stepped up getting an interception of Sanders on the Cowboys’ second drive of the 2nd half, which gave Purdy and the offense a short field, which they quickly turned into 7 points. Great to see after giving up almost 300 yards of offense in the 1st half. Heck of a job by those guys.
How good has this sophomore been this season? After having a mere 11 catches for 137 yards and 3 scores last year, it wouldn’t surprise me if he got that in a game this season. Kolar has caught fire since the start of conference play, and has become (or maybe solidified his spot as) Purdy’s “safety valve” in the offense. 5 touchdowns in the last 5 weeks, averaging over 14 yards per catch, and is nearing the 500 yard mark here after the 8th game of the season. The last Cyclone tight end to have close to these numbers was E.J. Bibbs back in 2013 who had 39 grabs for 462 yards.
Something I haven’t really talked about this season is how disciplined this team is when it comes to penalties. Iowa State ranks 4th in the country in fewest penalties (26) and penalty yards per game (34.63.) Not going to comment about the officiating on Saturday (because I’d be talking forever), but something that shouldn’t be lost is how solid this team is. Sometimes in these close losses, the details are what get a team beat. A silly hold on a run, a bad pass interference late, or jumping offside on a 3rd/4th and short. This team hasn’t really had those silly penalties this year *knocks on wood*. This is one thing Campbell has been very determined to have done, and so far Iowa State has lived up to it.
What Went Wrong
Saturday was not one of Brock’s better games as a Cyclone. After showing the country what he could do last year against this Oklahoma State team, the Cowboys got to him on Saturday. Purdy was under duress all game, forcing him to throw off his back foot for much of the game (see the TD to Kolar above.) On top of this, Brock made 3 costly mistakes in the 4th quarter that resulted in 3 interceptions, one of which was returned for the game-winning touchdown. The defense gave him 2 chances after the pick-6 including a huge 4th and 1 stop on Chuba Hubbard with 2:47 to go in the game.
This was a huge learning experience for Brock, and he knows it. He addressed it after the game. Going into a bye week, I’d expect Purdy to come back firing on all cylinders in Norman.
Defense really stepped up in the 2nd half of Saturday’s game, but tackling was an issue, especially early in the game. Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace are incredible threats on offense, but the following play resulting in a touchdown is unacceptable.
5 different Cyclones have a chance to take Tylan Wallace; 3 just beyond the 1st down marker, and 2 more down the sideline.
Hopefully the second half provided a lesson to wrap on tackles, and to not just rely on trying to hit the guy as hard as you can.
Maybe this is partially due to Iowa State running some 30 plays MORE than Oklahoma State, but the balance of the play-calling on Saturday was... well... nonexistent. Brock Purdy attempted 62 passes on the day, while Breece Hall ran just 18 times. Johnnie Lang and Purdy added 7 combined carries, but a 25-62 run/pass split is not ideal. Maybe this had to do with the Cyclones being behind a large majority of the game, but you can’t abandon the run against a team that can score as fast as Oklahoma State can.