Most Cyclone fans were probably not super confident about Iowa State’s chance to win on the road against Oklahoma in what will likely be the last time the two schools ever meet, but some may have been expecting a closer game. Let’s take a quick look at why that happened and what it means going forward.
Defense Needs To Pressure The Quarterback
Dillion Gabriel absolutely dissected the Iowa State defense, which is seemingly on the struggle bus right now. Injuries to the secondary haven’t helped, but the main culprit seems to be the general lack of a pass rush. The Cyclones just aren’t generating enough pressure up front and it is putting a ton of stress on the rest of the defense.
We are now seeing what youth and the lack of a Will McDonald or JaQuan Bailey can do to a defense. If Iowa State is going to find a way to correct some of these defensive issues, they will need to get some pressure on the quarterback. If it not, more games like Saturday are coming.
Abu Sama Needs To Be The Feature Running Back
I think I typed this right after the first game against Northern Iowa and I am putting it down again. The kid just has a knack for making plays and getting up the field. We’ve seen the newly-emphasized passing game begin to open up more lanes in the running game over the past couple of weeks, and we’re slowly figuring out which backs are able to take advantage of that. With the season having clearly been established as a rebuilding year, it’s worth giving Sama more carries so he can build experience and potentially help the running game continue to expand.
Critical Stretch Upcoming
The Cyclones sit at 2-3 on the season with a critical five-game stretch upcoming. TCU, Cincinnati, Baylor, Kansas and BYU are all coming down the line, and all of them appear to be winnable. Iowa State is obviously behind the 8-ball just a bit as far as trying to make a bowl game, and the Cyclones will likely need to grab all four wins needed for bowl eligibility in this stretch.
Winning three of five gives you a chance to clinch a bowl berth in the last two weeks of the season, but that might be a tall task with Texas appearing to be for real (for once) and the Kansas State game happening on the road in Manhattan. Either way, we’re going to find out a lot about this team and the outlook for 2024 over the next month and a half.