Senior Day in Ames, Iowa for 20 seniors. The improving Jayhawks rolled into town to take on a Cyclone team looking to win it’s 7th game for the 3rd consecutive season. A lot of emotion in Ames after last week’s big win over Texas, while the Jayhawks come off back to back losses. Much was expected of the Cyclones against this Kansas team, especially at home, but Iowa State didn’t play their best game of the year. Late in the game, however, when the team needed him most, Brock Purdy showed up in a huge way.
What Went Right
La’Michael Pettway and Deshaunte Jones played their final games in Jack Trice, and they absolutely balled out. Pettway caught 6 passes en route to 96 yards and 2 scores, while Jones added another 6 grabs for 74 yards. Jones didn’t reach the end zone, but came up with some very nice grabs throughout the game, and throughout the season. As far as non-seniors, tight end Charlie Kolar continued to impress (hello Mackey Award voters) with his first career 100 yard receiving day. Also impressing was freshman wideout Sean Shaw Jr. Sean only had 3 grabs, but he made the grab on 4th and goal in the end zone to ice the game. Brock (generally) put the ball on the money all game, and the receivers (generally) made the plays when it counted.
Brock took a lot of criticism after the end of the Oklahoma State game, and some/most of it was deserved. He’s responded to that with some of his best games. To close the game against Kansas, Brock hit 18 of his final 19 passes, including his final 12. He also broke the Cyclone single season records for passing yards, consecutive games with a passing touchdown, total yards, and completions. Adding onto his record of season touchdown passes that he broke last week. The QB record book at the end of his career will belong to him.
INJECT THIS INTO MY VEINS
3rd Down Offense
Iowa State has struggled a bit on 3rd downs at times this season. Saturday was not one of those times. The Cyclones converted on 10 of their 16 attempts. Good for a 62.5% conversion rate. Granted, the Kansas defense isn’t the best unit in the conference, but they’re much improved over the last few years. This should be where Iowa State is at. It’s a great jump from some previous games, when the offense couldn’t convert a 3rd down to save their lives.
What Went Wrong
Iowa State was unable to stop the Kansas run game for much of the game. Pooka Williams burned the front seven with his speed, and was able to slice and dice his way into the secondary. Williams gashed the Cyclones for 159 yards on just 19 carries, good for 8.36 yards per carry. Fortunately, KU didn’t get much else going in the run game, but Williams was a hassle all game for the Cyclones defense. He also added a 27 yard touchdown reception to pull the game within 7.
3rd Down Defense
For as good as the offense was on 3rd downs, the defense was just as bad. Kansas finished 9 of 19 on 3rd down (just under 50%) and was 1-2 on 4th down. Of course, the 4th down conversion was the 2nd to last play of the game, but it was on a 4th and 22. Hate to nit pick something like that, but that’s a play you shouldn’t be giving up at any point in the game. Earlier in the game, Kansas converted a 2nd and 23 by gaining 31 yards on a pass to Daylon Charlot. Last week against Texas, they gave up 30 yards on a 2nd and 35. Defense HAS to get off the field on those situations.
I counted 5 dropped interceptions on Saturday, including 2 that came on the same play. This defense continuously has put itself in positions to get the ball back to the offense, and has continuously failed to convert. Coach Matt Campbell has always stressed the details in determining the success of this team, and takeaways have been a difficult element to master for the defense. At times, they’ve come up with key plays to shift the momentum of the game, but it’s been a rarity. Iowa State ranks 117th in the country when it comes to takeaways with 11. 3 of them came against ULM, leaving 8 takeaways across the remaining 10 games. This defense is really, really, good... but being more opportunistic would make it great.