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Iowa State Football Post-Mortem: Riot Bowl

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Riot is definitely the correct word...

Ben Queen / USA TODAY Sports

Nothing like a little Riot Bowl action after ending Oklahoma State’s undefeated season, right? A short little jaunt over to Morgantown, WV to hang out with our friends the Mountaineers. To be honest, this has been one of my favorite matchups for us for the last 5-6 years or so. Some of that might have to do with recent success, but also because frankly I quite enjoy a lot of WVU fans. So now that I’ve talked all that up, surely this game will go by smoothly for Campbell and Co. to close out Purdy’s “Brocktober” career, right?

What Went Wrong

Seriously, guys?

Well, so much for smooth sailing... This week’s officials just told last week’s to hold their beers...

Okay, listen guys... I take full responsibility for the officiating on Saturday. I mentioned the officials in the last rendition of the Post-Mortem and for that, I sincerely apologize. I won’t do it again... right after today.

Seriously? What the hell was that? Look, I’ll be the first one to tell you Iowa State didn’t play well enough to win that game (as I’ll get to later), so maybe it’s just poetic justice the calls on Saturday went how they did, but seriously? At this point, I look back on those calls and I can’t even be mad. I just sit at my computer desk watching replays and laughing at how comedic it was. Saturday’s crew had it all. From incomplete passes ruled touchdowns, to touchdowns ruled fumbles, to even touchdowns with the play-clock at 0 before the snap. I genuinely do not understand how a single crew can be directly responsible for so many terrible calls directly resulting in points added or taken away. On either side. It’s embarrassing for the league, it’s embarrassing for the teams, players, coaches, fans, hopefully the officials, and it’s embarrassing for the sport of football as a whole.

Sorry for rambling about this. I know it’s not what anyone wants to hear/read, but better and more consistent officiating is all we as college football fans have ever asked for... and it’s just not happening.

Offensive Line/Pass Protection

Okay, now that I’ve ranted about what we can’t control, let’s go into something we CAN control. The offensive line was horrendous on Saturday. They had their moments, sure, as any poor group has on any given Saturday, but as far as a complete game, well, it wasn’t one. Brock Purdy was running for his damn life the entire game. Credit to West Virginia for a lot of this. They had a game plan with their very good defensive front, led by Dante Sills, and they bullied Iowa State’s offensive line for what felt like a full 60 minutes.

Seriously, I know Brock likes to move his feet, but I’d imagine he had those things on ice for quite a while after Saturday’s game. Every play he dropped back it felt like he was having to move around, force a missed tackle, dodge defenders, and escape pressure every single time. Even on plays that ended positively, he was all over the pocket, inside and out.

Really ugly game from the boys up front. They will definitely need to improve for the final stretch of the regular season.

Punting

Okay, credit to Corey Dunn for a moment. He did pin West Virginia at their own 5 on one of his punts. Well Dunn, Corey, but we have got to figure out who is doing the punting on this team. Dunn, Mevis, Shook, whoever. Hell, I’ll walk onto the field on Saturday against Texas if I have to. Cycling through punters like Cyclone fans cycle through Busch Lights on game days isn’t doing anyone much good.

Third Downs

In what was quite possibly the stat of the day, and quite possibly the single largest reason Iowa State was unable to win their fourth straight against West Virginia, the Cyclones managed to convert just TWO, yes, TWO, of their 12 third-down attempts. For those keeping track at home, that’s a whopping 16 percent on 3rd down. That’s uh... that’s not how you win football games, folks. ESPECIALLY when your opponent’s convert NINE of their FIFTEEN third-down attempts. Yes, West Virginia converted almost as many 3rd downs as Iowa State attempted for a staggering 56 percent conversion rate.

Again, for those counting at home, West Virginia came into the game converting just around 40 percent of their 3rd down attempts (Iowa State with a very similar number right around 38 percent.)

You don’t win too many football games converting just 2 of your third-downs. There’s still an outside chance for Iowa State to make the Big 12 Championship Game, but in order to do so, that number will have to change for the better.

What Went Right

Brock Purdy and Breece Hall

Purdy, unlike Hall, didn’t have his best day on the stat-sheet, but Iowa State isn’t even in the game in the first place without him. The number of plays he made both with his arm and his legs kept the Cyclones in the game. In contrast, Hall had one of his better games of the season from a numbers standpoint.

He started it off with a 70-yard score on the Cyclones’ 3rd play from scrimmage (his 20th game in a row with a touchdown run, tying Derrick Henry for 4th most all-time) and never really looked back. He tallied 167 yards on the ground on 24 carries for 7.0(!!!!!) yards per carry (Purdy added 64 yards and a score on 9 carries.) 239 yards on the ground should win you games, and the 2-headed monster in the backfield of Brock Purdy and Breece Hall definitely did their part.

Underneath pass coverage

Okay, so maybe the stuff over the top still needs (a lot of) work, but the underneath coverage was FANTASTIC. Jarret Doege only missed 16 passes (I say “only” because he attempted 46), and SEVEN of those 16 were deflected in some way or another, and an 8th went off his own receivers’ hands into the waiting arms of Craig McDonald (not actually sure if that’s one of the 7, so I’m giving us an 8th because I feel like it.)

Linebacker Jake Hummel even took a check-down to Leddie Brown on the sideline to the house to give the Cyclones a 24-17 lead just after the half. I think a lot of the defensive struggles were in large part due to the fact that the best linebacker in the Big 12 (and let’s be honest, the best in college football) missed the game due to injury.

It was a little disheartening to see, as this is Rose’s last year, but the linebackers across the board showed their athleticism underneath, and I think that’s an alright takeaway (pun intended) for an otherwise lackluster game by the defense.

Weekly Grades

Offense: A- (31 points should be enough with this defense)

Defense: C- (might be the lowest grade I’ve given in a long while)

Special Teams: C- (at least the kickoffs were touchbacks)

Officiating: Failure. Flunk. F.

Commentators: Just... Just listen to John Walters and Eric Heft

Country Roads: Took us home