Well, week one was a pleasant surprise. Finally, Iowa State shows up and shows out against their lesser opponent in the opener of a season. Would the momentum carry into Iowa City, or would the Hawkeyes stifle the Cyclones once again?
What Went Wrong
Special Teams (shocker, I know)
Of all the things that could go wrong against Iowa, it would surprise approximately zero Iowa State fans in the audience that Special Teams was the most abysmal part of the game on Saturday. How this team can be unquestionably bad year after year with absolutely zero direction from the coaching staff is beyond me. Special Teams coach or not, this team regularly fails at all ends of the special teams. Coach Matt Campbell knows this; hell, anyone with a pair of eyes and a basic understanding of the game of football would know this. So why, in quite possibly the biggest “margin” that Campbell always hammers on, are we so bad? THAT is the question that needs to be answered and asked of the coaching staff and players. Two punts were blocked (one setting up the lone scoring drive for Iowa), a field goal that barely got over the crossbar, and a negative yardage punt return. When the, arguably, best play a unit manages to muster up is a nine-yard punt return from Dimitri Stanley... you know it was a rough day...
I don’t think it’s farfetched to say Iowa State should’ve blown out Iowa on Saturday. Why didn’t they? Well, aside from the pair of blocked punts on special teams setting Iowa up in the red zone, Iowa State got almost nothing from their own offense when they got down near the goal line. Iowa State finally forced a turnover of Iowa which resulted in the Cyclones getting the ball in Iowa territory. How did they pay it off? A fumble on the goal line recovered in the end zone.
That’s fine, though. Iowa State would get back inside the 10 again in the first half. Their next drive found the Cyclones in a 14-play drive that got down to the Iowa 5 before a pair of incompletions and a one-yard Hunter Dekkers run resulted in a mere 3 points, cutting the lead to 7-3.
After a pair of punts, new Cyclone linebacker Colby Reeder would make his presence known with a tip-drill interception and return near the 10-yard line, where Hunter Dekkers would throw an incompletion followed by an interception into double coverage in the end zone.
Now, this article generally isn’t the “deep dive” into specifics, but I will be doing so here, so sit tight with me for a moment. Iowa State THREE TIMES inside the 10 ran a “QB Power” type play where whoever takes the snap follows a back to one side (ran twice with Dekkers, once as a direct snap “Wildcat” formation to Jirehl Brock), resulting in a pair of zero-yard gains and a one-yard gain. Thankfully, we stopped after the third try, and on the fourth chance in the red zone, Dekkers found Hutchinson for the lone touchdown of the afternoon.
Bottom line: Playcalling and execution in the red zone has got to be better moving forward. Thankfully, Iowa didn’t have much of anything going on offense, so many of the mistakes Iowa State had, went unpunished... but other teams will make fools of us for similar screw-ups...
What Went Right
If I could highlight one guy that I thought really stepped up on Saturday, it would be TJ Tampa.
Tampa had a tremendous game (as did most of the secondary) in locking up in pass coverage. He had a great diving deflection of a pass that was intercepted by linebacker Colby Reeder. He also came in at the last moment to force the fumble of Hawkeye fullback Monte Pottebaum at the goal line, setting up “The Drive” to win the game.
Obviously, there were a lot of guys that stepped up in big ways on Saturday, but I’ll highlight Tampa this week. The Cyclones have been known for not forcing many takeaways when playing Iowa, and TJ got us a pair of extra possessions that we may not have won the game without.
Well, how about that?
The offensive line was undeniably very good on Saturday. One might even say they were great. Dekkers (for the most part) had a very clean pocket to throw from. He was only sacked once (on the opening drive) and was only “hurried” three more times. Iowa’s defense didn’t even get in the backfield very much to stifle the Cyclones’ running game, with only three tackles for a loss. Jirehl Brock and the running game even got going. Brock totaled 100 yards even on the ground for his second straight game reaching the century mark to start the season. Jirehl is such a key part of this offense, leading that trio of backs behind him to continue the excellent stream at the position that Matt Campbell has had, and the Offensive Line has been tremendous in making sure they’ve got space.
Need I say more?
99 Yards.— WIDE LEFT & Natty Lite (@WideRtNattyLt) September 11, 2022
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