Bye weeks are always the best: No stress, no losses, and no skipped heartbeats. This year the Cyclones got one at about the right time. Following a 4-peat of losses, the Cyclones got a week to prep for the Oklahoma Sooners in what will likely be the last conference meeting of the two teams at Jack Trice Stadium.
What Went Wrong
There’s a thing in life called “Murphy’s Law.” Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Now, this isn’t truly a “law” like the Law of Gravity or the Laws of Physics and whatnot, but when it comes to the Cyclones, it may as well be. In fact, sources have told WRNL that Murphy’s Law will soon be changed to Cyclones’ Law, but this is yet to be confirmed.
In all seriousness, there was a LOT that went wrong in the Cyclones’ 27-13 loss to the Sooners. All three phases of the team got beaten badly at various points throughout the game and all three phases looked thoroughly outcoached. Even still, the Cyclones had a chance until a pair of brutal 4th quarter interceptions by Hunter Dekkers. But hey... at least we didn’t lose by one score again...
It’s been a while since I’ve had a recurring message in “what went wrong” that wasn’t just the special teams, but the Cyclones’ running game has been a feature here for the ENTIRE conference season. 66, 26, 78, 74, 66. Those are the rushing yard totals for the Cyclones this year in the Big 12. Not by Jirehl Brock, not by the running backs, not by anyone else individually. BY THE TEAM. Those are the rushing totals for the TEAM in every Big 12 game this year. They have yet to not only eclipse 100 yards, they haven't even hit 80.
Now, I understand that as much as we all love this group of running backs, it’s incredibly hard to go from David Montgomery to Breece Hall to the group of guys we have now. They have their strengths and weaknesses, as every player in football does, but this coaching staff doesn’t seem to have those figured out yet. I mean, Oklahoma came into the game having not given up fewer than 165 yards on the ground in Big 12 play, and we were a 28-yard scramble from Hunter Dekkers away from not even hitting a quarter of that. Think about that. The 28-yard scramble by Dekkers from his own end zone saved us from a 38-yard game. THIRTY-EIGHT YARDS. It’s also not like we didn’t try running the ball. Brock and Norton both had 11 carries. That’s about two yards per carry. That’s unacceptable. Period.
I get that trick plays are exactly that. They’re tricks. They’re supposed to catch teams off-guard. But has Iowa State stopped one yet this year? The double-reverse flea-flicker for a touchdown for Baylor, the reverse touchdown for Kansas, and now this week, Oklahoma pull a fake field goal for a walk-in 2-yard touchdown capping off a 15-play, 85-yard drive to go up 10-3 in their first half.
On the other side of the ball, has Iowa State even run a “trick play” of any sort this year? A double pass, a reverse, a flea flicker.... anything? I don’t recall any, anyway.
This isn’t to say Iowa State needs to run a whole bunch of them... It’s not even to say we should run one every game... but this is a stagnant offense with no originality and nothing for opposing defenses to really think twice about.
What Went Right
Aside from the interceptions, I actually really loved what Hunter Dekkers did with the football on Saturday. 10 catches for 72 yards for Hutchinson, 7 catches for 54 yards for Jaylin Noel, and 6 catches for 90 yards for Dimitri Stanley. I didn’t love that Dekkers had to throw the ball 57 times because we weren’t effective running the ball, but if he has to do that, I’m glad he’s hitting all 3 of our big playmakers on the outside instead of focusing solely on Xavier.
T.J. played quite possibly the game of his life on Saturday. Oftentimes matched up with Oklahoma leading receiver Marvin Mims, Tampa had 7 tackles (all solo), a tackle for loss, and a season-high 4(!!!!!!!) passes deflected. This guy has had a really strong season for the Cyclones’ secondary, and they’ve needed every bit of it. Expect to see him on your television on Sundays if he can keep up the season he’s had this year.