Ay ay ay... Thankfully, the 2022 season is coming to a close, and while there are plenty of things to look forward to (that defense sure is something) the Cyclones season has left much to be desired as we close out the season with a date with the fourth-ranked Horned Frogs down in Fort Worth. Maybe Matt Campbell and company have that spark that led them to wins over OU and TCU in 2017? Maybe we can sneak into a bowl game at 5-7 with some help and the APR rankings? We’ve ended a National Championship bid before, after all. Maybe we can find that 2011 magical upset once more 11 years later.
Narrator: “They did not.”
What Went Wrong
Let’s just say that being down 24-0 at the end of the first quarter probably isn’t where you want your team to be. Yet, whether it was the rain or the wind or the atmosphere or we were tired or what, the Cyclones did in fact find themselves down 24-0 at the end of the first quarter... and it never really got better from there...
Yet another game with a pair of missed field goals from freshman kicker Jace Gilbert and a snap over punter Tyler Perkins’ head left the Cyclones’ special teams once again scraping the bottom of the barrel for something to go right for them. Spoiler alert: Nothing did.
I genuinely don’t know how one unit for one team can be this abysmally bad for this long. Nothing ever changes. We do the same stuff over and over again every week and nothing ever gets better. They have their moments, yes, but it seems to be impossible for this unit to ever put together a full four quarters of football. How does it get better? Frankly, I have no idea. At this point, I don’t even know if having a dedicated coach would even help. Sure, we have an “analyst” for the unit, but I really don’t think you need to be paying someone to tell you what’s going on with the special teams. It’s bad. Very bad. Very, very, very bad.
A Hunter Dekkers pick-six and a Rocco Becht pick-six. How about we throw on the fact that Xavier Hutchinson was limited to just a pair of grabs for 11 total yards? Or that for the first time in WEEKS it seemed like the run game was finally going (almost 200 total yards from Sanders, Norton, and Silas) but it happened to come in the game that we trailed by a maximum of 48 points? Not exactly the game where the other team is concerned about the run is it?
Obviously, there are a TON of new guys on this unit. It was Dekkers’ first year as a full starter, the running back room was without its leader in Jirehl Brock most of the year with various injuries, the tight ends were behind Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen and never really had that full role until now, and the receivers behind Hutchinson and Noel haven’t fully produced outside the occasional big play from Stanley who is in a completely new offense to him. There was a lot going against this offense this year, but the fact of the matter is that they didn’t answer the call all too often... or often enough I should say.
Well, how about that? We completed the trifecta this week. Yup, I’m throwing the defense as a whole in there too. They’ve been so damn good for 11 games this year, and while they weren’t put in great situations at all this entire season, they let the you know what hit the fan to conclude the season on Saturday. Even taking away the 14 points off pick-sixes, the defense gave up a season-high 48 points on Saturday. They got off on the wrong foot allowing a wide-open touchdown on the opening drive and TCU just kinda waltzed through them most of the game afterward too. It was a very lackluster performance from one of the best units in the country across the first 11 games, but I guess if you’re going to get one out of the way, it might as well be in the final game of the season when you’re not playing for a whole lot.
What Went Right
The Season Ended
I hate to be that much of a Debbie Downer here. I try to keep these articles focused in the direction of “what can we build off of here for the next game” and whatnot. That said, part of me is really glad this season is over. The reload/rebuild/recover year is done, and we can fully focus on 2023 now. There were some positives to take away from this year. As I said, the defense is tremendous, and while there will be losses that hurt, the #1 defense in the Big 12 is presumably returning a bunch of starters, and that’s something to look forward to.
There’s a lot that needs to be worked out this season, and while I’m sure all of us are frustrated with how this season went and how it ended, I think Matt Campbell and Jamie Pollard have a plan. Everyone knew this year was going to be a lot different, and maybe even a lot worse, but I trust the head coach and the AD to figure out the steps we need to take. We’re in a great spot here at Iowa State. Let’s retool what we need to and get ready for a 2023 season with PLENTY of returning starters to lead the way.
(Plus, basketball and wrestling are in full force now, and the Cyclones are looking pretty good all-around in those)
Special Teams: F
Will McDonald: The Sack King
2022: No more
As always, thank you all for reading the Post-Mortem articles every week. I know this year was a little bit more down in the dumps than they have been recently, but trust me when I say no one feels worse about it than the players and coaches who work their butts off every week to try and put a good product out on the field that will win games. It’s on to bigger and better things in 2023, and you can bet your ass I’ll be buying in. Hope to see you all back at the Jack next fall. Go Cyclones!
DeShawn Hanika on the offseason: "People got to buy in, and if you’re not willing to buy in, you need to leave because we’re coming on a mission. I will not be the embarrassment of the Big 12 again."— Travis Hines (@TravisHines21) November 27, 2022