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Iowa State Football Post-Mortem: TOE

Heartbreaking

Charlie Neibergall - AP

After surviving a triple-overtime thriller against Northern Iowa, the Cyclones would face the Iowa Hawkeyes. Not only would the state of Iowa be tuned into this matchup, but so would the rest of the US as College GameDay would be coming to town. The 19th ranked Hawks came in with back-to-back wins over Miami (OH) and Rutgers, and the Cyclones would be coming off a bye. The Hawks had won 4 in a row in the series, meaning Coach Matt Campbell was looking for his first win over the Team Out East. Unfortunately for Campbell and the Cyclones, it just wasn’t in the cards.

What Went Right

Passing Game

What a showcase from the passing game! The offense opened up the playbook as a whole, but specifically, from a passing standpoint, the offense was incredible. Brock Purdy was 24 of 34 for 276 yards and a score (a 73 yard completion to Tarique Milton). On top of what Brock did, the Cyclones opened up a trick play right after the 1st rain delay, and receiver Deshaunte Jones threw an absolutely gorgeous deep ball to LaMichael Pettway for a 51 yard score. The passing game was very efficient and took advantage of some inexperience in the Hawkeye secondary. Excited to see how they continue to evolve this season.

Offensive Line

Holy smokes. Whatever Matt Campbell and the rest of the coaching staff told these boys to be prepared for with this Iowa front seven, they should continue saying it. Iowa only managed 1 sack (to a defensive back), 2 tackles for loss (both by defensive backs), and a mere 4 quarterback hurries (one of which ended in the play below). All in all one of the absolute best offensive line performances Iowa State has had in quite a while, and it happened against one of the better defenses (arguably) that they’ll face all season. If they can keep this up through conference play, the rest of the Big 12 should be put on high alert.

Defense

I feel like this is going to be a common theme this year. The defense held the Panthers to just 6 points (prior to OT) last week, and held the Hawkeyes to just 18 points this week. The motto of “bend, don’t break” was a common theme throughout the day, and it started right away on the first drive. Iowa got down inside the 10, but had to settle for a field goal. Iowa State forced the Hawks into 4 field goal tries, 2 of which came inside 40 yards. Another great showing from Jon Heacock’s group, as Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley had just 200 yards passing, and that fearsome Iowa run game only managed 112 (with 7 different rushers).

What Went Wrong

Return Game

Oh boy... Okay, let’s start with the obvious. The (essential) final play of the game. That is something that absolutely CANNOT happen. Whether it’s the first drive of the game, or the last. Running into your own man cannot happen as a special teams unit. Aside from that, sometimes (most of the time) a touchback on a kickoff is perfectly acceptable. Iowa State took 3 kickoffs out of the end zone, and got to the 14, 24, and 12 yard lines. To add insult to injury, the final one was even more so set back by an illegal block in the back call, starting the drive off at the Cyclone 6 yard line. (The ensuing Iowa drive resulted in their lone touchdown of the game).

Forcing Turnovers

Short and simple with this one. Iowa State hasn’t forced a turnover against Iowa since the 2015 game in the rivalry. It’s part of (and probably the main reason why) the Cyclones are winless in the series since 2014. The Cyclones had 3 (or 4) prime opportunities to intercept Nate Stanley (Marcel Spears, Mike Rose, and Lawrence White/Datrone Young (same play)) and none of them could. The defense has yet to force a turnover this season.

Finishing Drives

Three times during this game, Iowa State had the ball 1st and 10 inside the Iowa 40. And in these 3 drives in particular, Iowa State punted (4th and 8 from the 37), fumbled (2nd and 7 from the 19) and turned over on downs (4th and 13 from the 39). We can talk all day about the phantom hold on the final drive, but Iowa State had 1st and 10 from the 36 (maybe 5 yards from field goal range in a 1 point game) and went false start, 7 yd gain, 5 yard loss, incomplete pass, incomplete pass. The 5 yard loss being a read option where Brock Purdy kept the ball, and immediately slipped. These 3 drives should end in points, or at the very least, field goal tries. You need points to win, and Iowa State wasn’t good enough during good scoring opportunities.

Weekly Grades

Offense: B

Defense: A+++++

Special Teams: D

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