What a breath of fresh air Saturday was, huh? My only real “concern” from Saturday comes in the form of the belief in our coaching staff. Not that they can’t do their jobs or that they aren’t good at what they do, but rather from a sense of “they’ve seen what works, will they stick to it” kind of way. Matt and Nate saw a multitude of successful plays when pushing the ball down the field. Oklahoma State is one of the weaker teams in the conference, so that definitely helps in the whole “trying things out” department, but hopefully we see this as the first building block to what can still be a successful season.
What Went Wrong
For the first 3 games of the season, it seemed like the Cyclones were trying to use the run to set up the pass. After Saturday, it should be clear to everyone that the way the Cyclones should be attacking opposing defenses is by passing to (try to, anyway) set up the run. After Cartevious Norton left the game early with an injury, it was basically the Eli Sanders show in the backfield as he got the bulk of the carries with 15. He had a pair of nice runs late in the third quarter of 14 and 7 yards (the latter of which he bounced outside and punched it in for a touchdown), but the vast majority of the run game was stifled for the third week in a row.
It’ never a good sign when you go for under 100 yards in a game on the ground, especially not for a third consecutive game. The good news for the Cyclones on this end though, is that hopefully on Saturday the coaches found out that they had their priorities backward, and hopefully by extending the passing game further down the field, they can take some pressure off the offensive line and running backs when needing to open up and finding the running lanes.
End of the First Half (Kickoff)
Iowa State has been surprisingly efficient on kickoffs this year, both in getting the ball into the end zone and in covering when they don’t...
So the big question in my mind is why in the hell would you squib kick it with forty-three seconds left? Worse than squib kicking it, the ball rolled out of bounds and set up the Cowboys with a 1st and 10 at their own 35 instead of the usual touchback or shorter return let's just say to the 25 for simplicity's sake. That’s 10 yards you’re giving up to an offense that’s moved the ball surprisingly well against your defense in the first half, and suddenly you’ve only got yourself a 3-point lead instead of a 6-point lead going into the break.
Big Plays Given up on Defense
I think there’s certainly an argument to be made that what sunk Iowa State in the CyHawk game was a pair of plays. A 35-yard pass to Lachey and a 59-yard run by Patterson. Had Iowa State lost on Saturday to OkSt, I think that same argument could’ve been made. A 60-yard receiving touchdown from Jaden Nixon (beat Caleb Bacon down the sideline) and a 71-yard run by Ollie Gordon II set up the opening Cowboy touchdown.
Now, I love Caleb Bacon. He’s been an awesome addition to this team and he’s stepped up week after week... that said, I’m not exactly sure why he’s been left on an island against a quick running back on the boundary... Not a matchup you like if you’re Iowa State.
Maybe I’m being a bit harsh in critiquing all of two plays from this Cyclone defense, but giving up plays like that on a weekly basis isn’t exactly what we’ve come to expect from this group. Hopefully, that cleans up and we can see a full game from this group playing at their fullest (preferably this week in Norman if possible.)
What Went Right
A lot. What we’ve all been begging for. Strap in, folks. It’s time to have a fun one.
WHAT WE’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR!! THANK YOU MATT CAMPBELL AND NATE SCHEELHAASE!
How’s this for a passing game? SEVEN Cyclones had a long reception of eleven or more yards:
Give me that EVERY DAMN WEEK and this offense will be just fine. 348 yards, 27 completions on 38 attempts, 3 touchdowns to no interceptions, a QBR of near 86, another game of 0 sacks. It was about as flawless of a game from Becht and the receiving core as you could’ve asked for. Cyclone fans have been asking for the passing game to open up for well over a year now, and finally, we saw a glimpse of what could be. Now it’s up to the coaching staff to continue that belief and to continue that momentum and build off a near-perfect passing game.
Okay, so maybe I’m cheating a bit here in combining “aggressive playcalling” and pushing the ball down the field, but I really want to highlight one specific play here. After the loss to Ohio, I talked about a trio of 4th downs where I thought Matt Campbell should’ve been more aggressive in “trying to win” as opposed to playing conservatively and trying to maybe force overtime and blah blah blah.
We saw that change almost IMMEDIATELY in the Big 12 opener. Yeah, sure enough. 4th and 2 on the opening drive of the game near midfield, you’ve got time to set up your game plan. While I would’ve liked to see us go for it there, I understand the punt (we lined up to go for it but took a delay of game penalty to make it 4th and 7 before the punt.) Then on the 3rd drive of the game. Down 7-0, 4th and 3 at the Oklahoma State 38. Sure, you’re kind of in no man’s land at around a 55 yard field goal, going for it, and a punt, but don’t act like you’ve never seen Matt kick it in one of those two ways before. Not this time, though. Campbell got aggressive and Becht found a WIDE OPEN Jaylin Noel streaking to the end zone to tie up the ball game late in the first quarter.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: A tightly contested game, the Cyclones leading most of the way, stats not really leaning strongly in either way, and suddenly before you know it Iowa State has 2 random turnovers (blocked punt, fumble, interception, turnover on downs, whatever) and the game slips away late and we lose by 7. What if I told you that was exactly the case on Saturday, but the role in the turnover department was reversed. This time it was the Cyclones coming away with the football. Beau Freyler got a pick (making up for one he dropped earlier in the game) setting up the Cyclones offense. Then the future NFL corner TJ Tampa got one on 4th and 10 in the final 90 seconds to ice the game. If Iowa State continues to get big plays on defense to get the offense some extra possessions, there’s still plenty of time in this season to make a run.
TJ TAMPA CALLS GAME QUEUE SWEET CAROLINE pic.twitter.com/S2L1d8NGIz— OutCYde the Lines (@OutCYdetheLines) September 23, 2023