Everyone sitting in the Jack Trice Stadium stands at 11:00 am on Saturday morning was just hoping that the performance against incoming Louisiana-Monroe would be one to help us get over the disappointment of last week’s crushing loss to Iowa. ULM wasn’t expected to go quietly as they had already taken Florida State to overtime IN Tallahassee (lost 45-44). Brock Purdy and the offense would have to be better than they had been in previous weeks, and Mike Rose and the defense would have to try and contain the Warhawks run game (particularly running back Josh Johnson), which came into the week averaging over 150 yards per game, and almost 9 yards per carry.
What Went Right
First off, I want to say there are a lot of things I could include here, but I’m going to try and crunch it up as much as possible.
Boy, I thought last week against Iowa was fun to watch (even in a loss) with 276 yards and a ~71% completion percentage. Purdy and the passing game REALLY stepped it up against the Warhawk secondary. Brock threw for 435 yards (5 yards short of Austen Arnaud’s single game record) and 3 scores, while adding 75 yards and another 3 scores on the ground. His 510 total yards broke Seneca Wallace’s single game record for total offense, and how fitting that it came on the day Seneca was inducted into the Iowa State Hall of Fame.
Speedy Wide Receivers
Tarique Milton and Deshaunte Jones feasted against the ULM secondary (as everyone on the offense did), especially on the deep ball. Tarique Milton had 3 catches for 142 yards and a score (73 yards), while Deshaunte Jones added 2 grabs for 100 yards and a long catch-and-run score (84 yards) of his own. They say speed kills, and if the Cyclones can maintain two speed demons on the outside, that will open up the playbook even more for for guys like tight end Charlie Kolar and senior wideout, La’Michael Pettway (who are both already having very good seasons.)
(I really like this play call by the way. Fake screen to pull the corners in, leaving Milton 1 on 1 against a safety. Great call.)
Defense Forcing Turnovers
Iowa State hadn’t forced a turnover in 2 games. It was part of what hurt the team in the previous 2 games. Dropped interceptions, not recovering fumbles, and overall just not taking advantage of some very advantageous situations. Needless to say, they weren’t going to let that happen 3 weeks in a row. Iowa State forced 2 interceptions (one returned for 6) and also added a fumble recovery to their resume. It’s also worth noting that all 3 turnovers resulted in points, culminating in a 17 point swing.
O-Line: 0 sacks given up in 2 straight games
Backups/Reserves: Great reps in the 4th quarter
What Went Wrong
First Two Drives
Man oh man, what a miserable start for Brock Purdy. The first offensive play of the game was a poor read (and/or miscommunication) to Tarique Milton that was intercepted and returned to the Iowa State 10 yard line. After the defense got a stop and forced a missed field goal, the second offensive drive ended in a fumble by Purdy after a miscommunication on play action between he and running back, Kene Nwangwu. The offense eventually got going, but these little things need to be cleaned up before facing conference opponents. Hopefully it’s all out of the system now, as we start Big 12 play next Saturday in Waco.
Stopping a Scrambling Quarterback
Warhawks starting quarterback Caleb Evans came into the Iowa State game with just 16 carries for 54 yards on the season, which is a relatively slow start considering last year he finished the seasons with 140 rushes for 632 yards (4.5 ypc) and 10 scores. Needless to say, he got back on track against the Cyclone defense. Evans rushed 17 times for 99 yards with a long of 40. With quarterbacks like Jalen Hurts, Spencer Sanders, and Sam Ehlinger that aren’t afraid to scramble and take off, Iowa State will need to find an answer to try and limit a quarterback’s mobility.