This season is officially a disappointment
For some people, this season was a disappointment after the loss in the Cy-Hawk game, for others, it came after losses to Baylor, West Virginia or Texas Tech. If I’m being honest, the loss against Texas Tech was officially the point where Iowa State could no longer achieve what they sought after. The Big 12 Championship was out of reach, so was a New Years Six bowl, but in my mind, this season could still accomplish big things.
Wins against Oklahoma and TCU would be an 8-4 season with a chance at the Alamo Bowl, but most likely a trip to the Cheez-It Bowl. Well, 8-4 is now off the table and this season is officially a disappointment for me. For a team that returned nearly everyone from last season’s obliteration of Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl and was one drive away from being Big 12 champions, expectations were through the roof. The Cyclones opened up the season ranked seventh in the country, only for them to sit at 6-5 now.
The disappointment can be drawn back to Iowa State not winning in the margins and not winning close games like they did last season. The offense looked horrible against Iowa, Baylor and Oklahoma for the majority of those games, and the defense was uncharacteristically bad against West Virginia and Texas Tech. If a couple of bounces or calls went Iowa State’s way, maybe this season could've turned out differently, unfortunately, it didn’t. The 2021 season will always be a disappointment. But...
This era is nowhere near a disappointment
Just because the end of the Brock Purdy, Mike Rose, Charlie Kolar (and a million more) era was a disappointment, doesn’t mean that what they did should go unnoticed. This senior class will graduate as the most accomplished and most winningest class in the history of Iowa State football. This senior class brought some of the best wins and moments in the history of the school. This senior class went undefeated at home in conference play in 2020 and 2021, defending Jack Trice Stadium like Georges Niang defended Hilton Coliseum.
But I would argue that more important than their accomplishments or achievements, this team never gave up. Down big to Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma, they could’ve very well checked out and looked ahead to next week. In those three losses, they bounced back and had chances in the final minutes to win the game. They were one play, one yard or one bounce away. This team certainly underachieved this season, they could’ve won a Big 12 Championship or played in a College Football Playoff, but they didn’t. Even without those banners or achievements, this group still left an impact of how to fight and be the best versions of themselves every single day. In my opinion, that will impact the program further down the road.
Every single one of these seniors deserves a sold-out and loud crowd on Black Friday. This is the best senior class that the school has ever seen and they deserve the same support they would get if they were 11-0.
There have to be changes
For as successful as this era was, there were always setbacks, and most of them were repetitive. In my opinion, you can track most of Iowa State’s losses to issues on the offensive end, and you can trace those offensive issues to two separate areas: playcalling and the offensive line.
In specific, Iowa State lost to Oklahoma because of the incompetence of the offensive line. Brock Purdy had less than one second (unofficially) to throw every time he dropped back and had to run for his life nearly every play. On top of that, they had a number of drive-killing penalties that left points on the board. If the offensive line played even 25% better on Saturday, I think the Cyclones would’ve walked out of Norman victorious.
Along with that, the play-calling just didn’t adjust to the poor offensive line play. Tom Manning was pretty consistent with calling an extremely predictable game after the first drive. Manning didn’t adjust with play-action or slip screen passes to Breece Hall to make life easier on Brock Purdy.
Those two issues have cost Iowa State several wins since 2017 and will have to change going forward. I’m not sure how to fix the offensive line or the play-calling, but I do know that those two areas need to be Matt Campbell’s top priority this offseason.