Let’s just get on with it
What Went Wrong
Is that legal? Can I put “Everything” in this spot? Let me double check and I’ll get back to you guys in a minute.
Food poisoning? Really? That’s the death of the Cyclones’ 2023 season? Food poisoning? It was brought up almost immediately after the game started that a half dozen Cyclones or so (including starting QB Rocco Becht and leading receiver Jaylin Noel) were dealing with food poisoning that they’d gotten at some point, keeping them up the whole night prior to the game. I can’t imagine there are many ways I’d like to spend playing an 11 a.m. kick game than with food poisoning.
My god. ESPNU sideline reporter telling us that "4-5" Cyclones got food poisoning and were up all night. Including Rocco Becht and Jaylin Noel. Unreal.— Chris Williams (@ChrisMWilliams) September 16, 2023
Rushing Attack (or lack thereof)
For as good as this offensive line has been at pass protecting (still 0 sacks allowed by the way,) they’ve been utter garbage at run blocking. Maybe some of that had to do with the aforementioned food poisoning, but 38 yards on 22 attempts is somehow worse than imaginable... even with so many guys sick.
I don’t know what needs to change, whether that’s personnel, scheme, playcalling, I don’t know. But it has to be something. You can’t beat anyone on 38 yards on the ground on 22 carries. It’s just not happening. At some point you need to abandon your 1.7 yards per carry and go with the passing game. That’s just how it goes sometimes, and hopefully that’s not something that continues the remainder of the season.
Playcalling, Urgency, Time, I don’t know what to call it
The Cyclones scored one time on Saturday. Once. So given how this offense operates, you’d probably think it was some slow, methodical grind over the course of 12 plays or something, right? NOPE. In fact, it was about the furthest thing from that. First play of the drive, they finally let Rocco air one out, and while it wasn’t his best throw, it drew a pass interference call, moving the ball 15 yards. The next play? A fantastic wheel route up the sideline to Daniel Jackson. Then to cap it off? A beautiful touch throw over the defense to the back of the end zone.
“So David,” you ask, “why is this in the ‘What Went Wrong’ section? Sounds like everything went to plan?” To which I’d say you’re right. It did. The ‘What Went Wrong’ is why in the hell weren’t we doing this all game? When you’re running the ball at under 2 yards per carry, why are you handing it off 23 times a game?!? You’ve got playmakers on the outside that can take the top off defenses, that can get upfield with the ball, that can MAKE PLAYS. Why must we be so stubborn in our grinding playcalling that we wait until the game feels lost to regain that sliver of hope? It’s not good offense, it’s not good football, it’s not how you win games.
And another thing to tie into this: some of the decisions on Saturday by Matt Campbell were absolutely mind-boggling. Let’s look at 3 consecutive drives in the 2nd half.
In the 3rd quarter, the Cyclones got to 4th and 2 at the Ohio 46-yard line. It’s 7-0 Bobcats and you’ve gone 3-3 in the air for 26 yards on the drive. Put the ball in your quarterback’s hands and let him make a play. If you don’t get it, your defense has been great all game only giving up a touchdown on a 23-yard drive. Plus, you called a timeout after lining up to go for it and then punted. If you’re going to punt, just take the 5 yards, save your timeout, and give your incredible punter 5 extra yards to work with. Next drive.
Start the drive with a false start, then you get 14 yards on 3 plays (2-2 in the air for all 14) and AGAIN you have 4th and short (1 yard in this case) at your own 42. You’ve got nothing to lose this season and you’ve already succeeded on the QB sneak once on the day. Put the ball in your QBs hands, trust your defense if you don’t get it, and go get one yard. One yard? You don’t trust your offense to get one yard against Ohio? If you can’t do that, don’t bother with the rest of the year. Let’s step it up. Next drive.
It’s now 10-0 Ohio. You’ve moved the ball effectively on this drive, picking up 63 yards on 14 plays and you just picked up 12 yards on 3rd and 13. It’s 4th and 1 at the Ohio 19. Sure, you could take your 37-yard field goal attempt (0-1 on the day at this point by the way) or you could just PUT THE BALL IN YOUR QB’S HANDS and get 1 YARD. ONE. YARD. Get up under center and ram that thing 3 feet in front of you to keep the drive going and keep Ohio on their heels. Ridiculous if you ask me. 3 opportunities on 4th and short to just go get it and try and get the game back, and you kicked it away on all 3. Just upsetting.
Yeah, pretty much everything was bad on Saturday. But there were some things to bring a smile, so let’s just move on to those (or rather, ‘that’.)
What Went Right
Alright, so I know he threw a pair of interceptions on Saturday, but realistically neither was his fault. If I’m going to give a “pass” to anyone for this past weekend, it’s got to be Rocco. 17 of 24, 233 yards and the score to keep us in the game. Like I said, the INTs weren’t his fault. on the first, Higgins fell on the route, and on the second, the defender got there early and it should’ve been flagged, but it wasn’t and defensive lineman Rodney Matthews came down with it.
As is always the case, Saturday came to an end, and Sunday came. Saturday stunk, but it’s over. Let’s move on to Oklahoma State and pack the Jack this weekend.