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Iowa State Football Post-Mortem: UNI

Spoiler alert: UNI is still a tough out.

Northern Iowa v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

Rise and shine, Cyclone Nation! Iowa State football is back in Ames, Iowa. After a disappointing end to the Alamo Bowl, the Cyclones return a vast majority of their starters on both sides of the ball, and with head coach Matt Campbell leading the charge, many suspect a possible run at the Big 12 Championship Game come the end of the season. But before one could even think about that, Iowa State would need to take on their first in-state opponent of the season, Northern Iowa. UNI usually plays Iowa State really tough, and this game was no different…

What Went Right


Now, now, now, I know what you might be thinking. “If the punter/punting unit is something that went right, that probably means the game didn’t go very well,” and you would be right. But I really want to highlight Joe and the job he and the punting unit did in pinning UNI back on a few different occasions, and the job they did flipping field position. Joe only punted 3 times, averaging 38 yards a kick, but he pinned the Panther at their own 9, 12, and 12. A+ job from him this weekend


I really want to highlight one player, or one unit, or something to narrow this down. I really do. But the thing is, when you give up just 6 points, 37 rushing yards, and 228 passing yards; you have to highlight the entire group of guys. Needless to say, the Iowa State defense was ready to go FAR before the offense was. We knew this group was going to be tough before the season, and they proved it. They gave up a mere 5.4 yards per pass, and an astounding 1.1 yards per rush over the course of 4 quarters and 3 OTs. John Heacock had his boys ready to go, and it showed. Can’t wait to see this group in action over the course of the season.


We knew Iowa State was going to have a flurry of backs to attack teams’ defenses with this season. Returning vets such as Sheldon Croney Jr., Kene Nwangwu, and Johnnie Lang, as well as the two 4-star freshmen in Breece Hall and Jirehl Brock. What we didn’t know was who would start, who would play the most, and who would be the best. And I honestly don’t think any of these were answered on Saturday, but I did like the balance that we had in the rotation. Lang led with 14 carries, Croney had 13, Hall added 11, and Nwangwu had 4. All 4 backs had at least 30 yards, and all averaged AT LEAST 4.3 yards per carry. Croney also punched in the game-winning TD from 1 yard out. We’ll have to see who takes the lead moving forward, but I’m confident in whichever back(s) we have in the backfield

Honorable Mentions to Deshaunte Jones (14 catches for 126 yds) and La’Michael Pettway (3 catches for 26 yards and 2 TDs)

What a catch by Jones btw

What Went Wrong


Okay, okay, okay. It’s the first week of the year. It’s their first time playing against another team this season, no one knows how it’s going to go, or how good certain things will really be. And for that, I give the offense a *slight* pass. That being said, calling an RPO on 4th and 1 on the opponent’s 40ish yard line…. Isn’t it. Brock Purdy having 0 rushing attempts (albeit probably to keep him as healthy as possible) with his athleticism…. Isn’t it. The conservative play-calling on 3rd and mediums…. Isn’t it. This team has a lot of talent on offense, and has a lot of “big play” potential, but it wasn’t used much if at all against a solid “practice” opponent (no disrespect to UNI). This isn’t the game to play it super safe. This is the game to get the nerves out and try new things. Didn’t see anything special, and that won’t work come later weeks.


I’m going to omit Deshaunte Jones and La’Michael Pettway from this part of the article, as Deshaunte set a “Matt Campbell Era” record with 16 targets, and new Arkansas transfer Pettway found the end zone twice. Other than that, there wasn’t much presence from the Cyclones receivers. Tarique Milton had 2 catches, Landen Akers had 1, and Darren Wilson had 1. (Pettway only had 3, but as he found the end zone twice, I said I’d leave him out.) That’s 4 catches across 3 guys. Part of this falls on Purdy to get his eyes to more people than Jones, but the receivers have to do their part to get open. They didn’t do that, and it left the Panthers secondary in a fairly easy situation. Try to take out Jones, and make the others beat you.

Report Card

Offense: D (They get a pass this week because it’s Week 1. They won’t be so fortunate next time)

Defense: A+++++

Special Teams: B+

Jack Trice Crowd: A+ Sellout for sure

Cyclone Football: Back, baby