After suffering their 2nd tight loss of the season, Iowa State returned to Jack Trice Stadium for their first home Big 12 game against the TCU Horned Frogs. TCU came to Ames after rolling Kansas at home by 37, and would look to knock Iowa State to 0-2 in conference play. But Brock Purdy and the Cyclones were having none of it, as they bounced back from a highly inconsistent game in Waco by playing quite possibly their most complete game of the season.
What Went Right
Brock has had his mistakes this season, but Saturday was basically a flawless performance by the sophomore quarterback. Purdy ended the day 19 of 24 (79%) for 247 yards and 2 scores. Not to mention, he ran the ball 12 times for 102 yards and another 2 scores (including a 44 yarder on their opening drive.) This marks the 4th game in a row that Purdy has eclipsed the 300 yard mark of total offense, making him the first to do it in school history. He also ranks fifth nationally in total offense per game at 356.2.
There hasn’t been much to celebrate about when it comes to the Iowa State running backs this year. Some bursts and entertaining runs for sure, but no clear RB1 or standout performer. Johnnie Lang may have changed that on Saturday. After totaling just 9 carries over the previous 3 games, Lang had 14 carries for 72 yards and 2 touchdowns to lead all backs. Maybe, just maybe, this was the spark the running game needed to get going the rest of the year; and if the weather for Iowa State games is going to continue to be ugly, the run game will be key.
Winning the Turnover Battle
Oh, how sweet it is. For just the second time this season, the Iowa State defense forced more turnovers than the offense committed. O’Rien Vance forced a fumble that was scooped up by Enyioma Uwazurike for a touchdown, and after putting the game out of reach (42-24) with 6:29 to go, the special teams got involved as Zach Peterson forced a fumble of Jalen Reagor on the ensuing kickoff that was recovered by Rory Walling. Iowa State was able to punch it in again to close out the game at 49-24.
What Went Wrong
3rd Down Defense
This just feels like it it going to be a thorn in the Cyclones’ side all season. TCU went 6 of 15 on 3rd down (or 40%) on Saturday. Add that as the 3rd team this year to convert at least 40% of their 3rd downs against this defense (TCU, ULM, Iowa.) The 2 that didn’t (Baylor and UNI) were both at 35%, bringing the Cyclones’ opponent’s combined 3rd down percentage to 42.4% (36-85). This is, how you say, not good. That percentage has the Cyclones ranked around 100th in the nation in 3rd down defense. Not where you want to be when you play in the Big 12.
Pass Catchers NOT named Deshaunte Jones
Ball distribution is good. 10 different guys having at least one catch is good. 9 of said 10 guys having exactly one catch is... not so good. Jones had 10 catches on the day, more than the other 9 players with receptions had combined. If this is going to be a continued issue as we’ve seen before, defenses will key in on Jones as THAT guy (which, let’s be honest, may not stop that man anyway.)
I’m going to assume all those squib/knuckle ball/ugly/don’t kick it off the ground-style kickoffs were because of the weather, and not something else. Did notice that they seemed to be off the foot of Paddock and not Narveson, so, who knows. Giving the opponent a short field isn’t usually good, so hopefully the kicking game just keeps it deep unless otherwise required.