A 6-5 record isn’t at all where I or many of us thought Iowa State would be going into the closer against TCU, but there we were. It’s time to put the last few weeks behind us and just focus on one thing and one thing only. Sending these seniors out with a win on Senior Night against the Horned Frogs. So let’s see how the Cyclones fared in the regular season finale.
What Went Wrong
It’s no surprise Iowa State has struggled with certain mobile quarterbacks in the past, and Saturday wasn’t all that different. Max Duggan was under a lot of pressure much of the day, the Cyclones racking up five sacks, but did a lot of things well to avoid the rush as well. Duggan had 3 carries of at least 10 yards and had a few other nifty runs to escape the relentless Cyclone front. It also seemed, at least from a viewing standpoint, that Iowa State almost looked afraid to hit Duggan.
It just looked like the Cyclones were very passive, which isn’t entirely different from their usual gameplan (especially early on), but it just seemed weird to see guys like Greg Eisworth, Isheem Young, and the rest of the second and third levels of the defense not lay the boom on a runner in the open field. If the Cyclones play a mobile QB in their bowl game, this could be something to keep an eye on.
The Big Play (particularly 3rd and long)
Big plays hurt Iowa State last week against the Sooners and they let up a couple more against the Horned Frogs. The first one coming on TCU’s second drive of the game. Following an offensive pass interference call, TCU had a 3rd and 15 from their own 10-yard line and seemingly ran a “give up” play being a draw to running back Emari Demercado who took the ball and scurried 17 yards for a first down.
The next came 2 drives later as TCU had a 3rd and 7 from the Iowa State 47-yard line. Max Duggan found WR Blair Conwright for a 47-yard touchdown, cutting the Cyclone lead from 17-0 to 17-7. The 3rd and final play (of note anyway) that came was immediately after Breece Hall’s 80-yard touchdown run. Mevis kicked off and TCU return-man Derius Davis returned said kick 78 yards to the Iowa State 19 and the Horned Frogs were instantly in business. They would score 4 plays later.
What Went Right
Once again, the Cyclones asserted their dominance with their defense. They gave up some plays here and there, but those just kinda happen. It’s football, what can you do? Anyway, the Cyclones defense absolutely flew around the field on Saturday. 9 tackles for loss (including 5 sacks), 3 passes defended, a Greg Eisworth interception, and a pair of 4th and 1 stops all resulting in just 14 points allowed. Considering the 2 scores were a 47-yard pass with a missed tackle and the end of a drive that started in the Cyclones’ own red zone, I’d say they capped off an incredible season with one of their best all-around performances of the year.
Breece Hall and the Running Game
If this is indeed the last showing from Breece Hall at the Jack, what a hell of a performance to go out on. Breece Hall cemented himself in the NCAA record books with his 24th straight game with a rushing touchdown, surpassing former Arkansas running back Bill Burnett’srecprd of 23, set 51 years ago. Breece also hit a personal accolade surpassing two hundred rushing yards for the first time in his career galloping his way to two hundred and forty-two yards on eighteen carries (that’s 13.4 yards per carry for those keeping track at home). Breece hit the mark earlier this season against Kansas State, but unfortunately lost 7 yards afterward and fell back to one hundred and ninety-seven. It was the 6th time in his career he surpassed the 180 mark, but it’s nice to know he’s finally hit and kept the 200-yard mark.
I don’t think there was a single senior that didn’t flash at some point during the game. It was incredible to watch these guys close their careers at the Jack with a performance like that. Just utter domination on both sides of the ball from 23 guys that unfortunately took their final snaps in front of the home crowd. I cannot possibly say anything that hasn’t been said already about those guys. On and off the field they’ve represented Iowa State in the absolute best way possible. Thank you, seniors, for your incredible dedication to the program from the very beginning. Now let’s go win one more in the bowl game.
Again, it’s hard to put into words what these seniors have done for Iowa State. It hasn’t always been pretty, but damn if it hasn’t been fun. Thank you Cyclones, and from all of us here at Wide Right and Natty Lite, we wish you nothing but the best in whatever comes next in your lives.
There are no proper words.— Cyclone Football (@CycloneFB) November 27, 2021
Thank you 15.