After a four-quarter mauling of ULM last week, one could argue that no fan base was more excited to start conference play than Iowa State’s. Unfortunately for the Cyclones and their fans, Baylor would be no easy task. The Bears came into the game undefeated, but having played the likes of Stephen F. Austin, UTSA, and Rice, who would’ve expected differently. Regardless, Iowa State would need to be ready, as this was their first road game of the season, and the Bears would be all to eager to hand the Cyclones an early conference loss after the heated battle from last year.
What Went Right
For those that follow me on Twitter, I had mentioned that regardless of the outcome, O’Rien Vance would be in the “What Went Right” category of this article. So, here goes. Vance led the Cyclones in the following categories on Saturday: tackles (9), solo tackles (6), tackles for loss (2), sacks (2), and QB hurries (3). Despite the heat (I’m not even going to think about diving into that fiasco. Much like HCMC, I too “don’t know, don’t care”) Vance was all over the field on the defensive side of the ball. From the opening kick to the final whistle, the Bears had to always know where #34 in white was while they were on offense. He’s more than earned that middle linebacker spot this season, and I, for one, am excited to see what he does to the rest of the Big 12.
4th Quarter Offense
At the start of the 4th quarter the Cyclones were down 20-0. 3 drives (and 3 defensive stops) later, the Cyclones found themselves up 21-20, and in a position to send a devastating blow to the Baylor Bears’ season. How did we get there? A lot of it has to do with Brock Purdy. Purdy went into the final frame 17/32 for 202 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. In the 4th, he was 10 of 13 for 140 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Brock has to find a way to start games better, looking at 2 drives against ULM, and 3 quarters against Baylor, but his 4th quarter was something special. Helped out by great receiving game from his tight ends, and some great catches, Brock and offense had a great 15 minutes.
Tight End U?
Charlie Kolar. Chase Allen.
Know. The. Names.
Kolar and Allen were SPECTACULAR against Baylor. They combined for 7 catches (5 by Kolar, 2 by Allen), 109 yards (72 by Kolar, 37 by Allen), and a touchdown (shown above) which gave the Cyclones the lead late in the 4th. Allen’s big catch of 30 yards set up the 1st Cyclone TD of the game on the first play of the 4th quarter, and Kolar was Brock’s second favorite target all game, and was as sure-handed as ever, including bowling his way into the end zone for the touchdown shown above.
What Went Wrong
This is just going to be one of those seasons, isn’t it? Losing a game by 2 hurts. Losing a game by 2 after missing 2 field goals (including having one blocked) hurts even more. The only consolation is that both were quite long (both at 49 yards), but the one that did get off the ground was plenty long enough, and Assalley has shown he has the power. Have to fix that accuracy though. Assalley is perfect under 30 yards this year, but is just 2-5 beyond that mark. Given the kickoff and punting (returning AND kicking) issues, this HAS to get better moving forward.
First 3 Quarters of Offense
Oh boy. Those first 3 quarters... those first 3 quarters were not at all what we (or at least I) expected after hanging 72 on ULM. After scoring on 9 straight possessions last week, the Cyclones were held scoreless for their first 11 drives. It wasn’t for lack of being in good scoring position, though. The Cyclones had drives stall at the Baylor 40 (turnover on downs), 32 (missed field goal), 39 (interception), 32 (blocked field goal), and 42 (punt) before finally scoring. This has been a common problem for the Cyclones all season, and it needs to be addressed as conference play heats up.
Iowa State needs to find a way to replace David Montgomery this season. Having 4 different players rush 28 times for just 63 yards (2.3 yards per carry) isn’t the way to do that. ESPECIALLY when the defense is primarily only rushing 3 and dropping 8 into coverage. Baylor wanted to force Iowa State to choose between tough throws and running the ball, and for the first 3 quarters Iowa State couldn’t manage success with either option. If Big 12 defenses continue to shift to a 3-man front dropping 8 into coverage, Iowa State will have to be better running the ball.