Iowa State 44 Iowa 41
If I was going to sum up Saturday’s historic win over Iowa, I would simply use the word Wow! Where to start? It was a day chalked full of emotion right from the beginning starting when the F-14s flew over the stadium in remembrance of the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. Iowa State got the ball first on offense and proceeded to march the ball right down the field on Iowa. When it looked like a score was eminent, Iowa State turned it over and you could not help but say as a fan, “Here we go again!” But on this day it was different. Iowa Sate did fight back. They refused to let Iowa get the upper hand. They scratched and clawed and fought their hearts out for what turned out to be the longest game in the series history in the second largest crowd to witness a game in Jack Trice Stadium history.
Iowa State has been known to be a team that has not been able to come back when down late in the game, but certainly this has seemed to change. We have fought back from being down late in both our games against UNI and Iowa to come back and win. A big reason for this is our new quarterback Steele Janz. What can I say? He is amazing. He makes plays at quarterback like no one I have seen since Seneca Wallace. I believe that the sky is the limit with Steele and we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg as to what he is capable of. That makes me very excited. There is just something about him. He knows when the game is on the line and he just seems to will our team to success. He is one of those rare players that makes his teammates around him play better. These are definitely exciting times right now and I hope we can continue to ride the wave into a very successful season.
Wins like the one’s on Saturday are the kind of wins that can turn a program around. They provide building block for future successes. They serve as a reminder in future games that when things get tough, we are capable of coming back and finding a win. Iowa has always been our big brother. More times than not, they seem to beat us up good. We get a black eye. We take their physical and verbal abuse year round. We keep coming back and fighting and we never back down and every once in a while, we knock them down and give them a black eye and remind them that we are here and we are capable of beating you too. So now all the Iowa fans have to sit around for a whole year and not really be able to say anything to the Cyclone fans because they know they were beaten and they deserved to be beaten because the little brother won this round.
I had the wonderful opportunity to be among those whose rushed the field on Saturday and it was amazing. The pure joy and excitement can’t be described. It took me back briefly to what it felt like as a player to be down on the field after a huge win. It is a feeling that can’t be described.
I also had the honor of being in the locker room following the game and hearing coach Rhoads address the team. It was so emotional. Players were crying tears of joy. Coaches were crying tears of joy. Even former players crying tears of joy. I walked in with Hiawatha Rutland and it was like we never left, even though there is a whole decade separating us from our time as Cyclone football players. It is true what they say, “Once a Cyclone, Always a Cyclone.” It never leaves you. You still feel the pain of a heart wrenching loss and the overwhelming joy of an amazing win. I had absolutely nothing to do with the Cyclones winning on Saturday, yet I still felt a part of it. I found my eyes filling with tears. Tears of joy. I thought back to all the teams that have come before. All the tough losses to Iowa. All the near misses. I thought back to all the people who said we could not beat the mighty Iowa. How you will always be a second-rate football program. How you were good at Iowa State, but you would never be able to play at Iowa. It all came rushing out in the form of tears and I wept uncontrollably. The joy and excitement on these kids faces (Did I just refer to college football players as kids? It’s official, I am old now.) and knew that this memory would stay with them their whole lives just like that scene inside that small pink locker room in Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 9th, 1998 will for me. Well, let me tell you what, the scene in that locker room on Sept. 10th, 20011 will stay with me for a lifetime as well. On this day, we were the better team and no one will ever be able to take that away from us. Enjoy this win Cyclones! You earned it.
It may seem an afterthought, but I am going to attempt to put some objective analysis of what I saw Saturday.
Let me start with the bad first. Two fumbles lost inside the 10 yard line as we were moving in to score just can’t happen. the first on the opening drive when we marched down the field and then the center snapped it over the head of Jantz and we turned the ball over. This was a huge momentum shift early in the game. The other time is when Shontrelle fumbled the ball as we were again moving in to score. We have to eliminate fumbles and we certainly can’t have them inside the red zone.
Another area we need to improve in is on penalties. We had 11 penalties for 84 yards compared to Iowa who had 6 for 35 yards. Since we will be the underdog in almost every game we play this season, we can’t afford to stop ourselves which is exactly what we have done these first two games. These two things are what kept me from giving the offense a full A.
Now for the good and there was a lot of it. Let me start with QB Steele Jantz. He had a phenomenal game and I just learned that he was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week which was well deserved. Jantz improved immensely over week one against UNI. He threw 3 interceptions last week and this week he had none. That is a huge improvement. His line read 25-37 for 279 yards passing with 4 touchdown passes and no interceptions. Steele’s ability to make plays out of potential disasters, his ability to elude tackles and his ability to convert on 3rd and 4th down scenarios makes his performance even more spectacular. Jantz led us from behind on three different occasions during the fourth quarter and overtime. At the end of the first overtime, he converted with a touchdown pass to Reynolds on 4th and goal. If that pass had fallen incomplete, the game would have been over, Hawkeyes win. The drive Jantz had to force overtime was amazing. With 5:40 left in regulation, we trailed Iowa 24-17. Jantz engineered a 13-play, 59 yard drive. During this drive, Jantz converted a 19 yard pass on 3rd and 15 and a 40 yard pass to Reynolds on 3rd and 20 to keep the drive alive. Without question, he was the MVP of the game.
Another area I thought we really improved in was our offensive line play. It did not hurt that we got Hicks our right guard back. It is no secret we are a better team with him than without him. They were embarrassed against UNI in the first game and they did not make excuses. They just rolled up their sleeves and went to work. They played outstanding. The helped establish a much better running game. ISU rushed for 194 yards to Iowa’s 158. When the game was over, they were completely spent. They left everything they had on the field.
Shontrelle Johnson gained 108 yards rushing for an average of 6.0 yards per carry which is outstanding. Having an established rushing attack takes some of the pressure off of Steele and our receivers in the passing game. The line gave Steele a chance to make more reads down the field and he showed what he can do with that time.
I thought that Reynolds (85 yards receiving) and Horne (94 yards receiving) both had outstanding games at receiver and Lentz made an outstanding clutch catch in the corner of the end zone. I thought the recievers did an excellent job of making blocks downfield which opened up many big plays.
Overall, I thought that the defense played a very game. Any time you can limit an Iowa team to 365 total yards (158 rushing, 207 passing), you have had a pretty good day on defense. I thought our LBs played an outstanding game. Klein and Tau’ fo’ ou each were in on 8 tackles and Knott played very tough again being in on 7 tackles.
Going into the game we knew that Coker had the ability to fumble the ball and right after we fumbled the ball, we forced Coker to fumble the ball deep in their territory to set up one of our scores. Fantastic job!
Meyer was 4 for 4 on field goals for the game, but I think the defense did an excellent job of holding them to field goals and not letting them get touchdowns. The 41 points scored by Iowa is a little deceiving because 17 of those points came during the overtime period.
We still need to continue to develop our defense and work to get more pressure from the defensive lineman.
Special Teams A-
Josh Lentz had another outstanding day on the special teams. He had 143 yards combined on the kickoff and punt returns that provided ISU with some much-needed field position.
Van Der Kamp had another outstanding day punting the ball. He had only two punts, but had a 51.5 yard average which is huge.
Mahoney had an outstanding 54 yard FG to end the half. Just outstanding. Again, consistency has got to be a key focus for him. You can’t make a long FG and then miss a short one. Zach Guyer then had the opportunity to kick his first FG and missed a 37 yard attempt. In my opinion, I felt that Mahoney should have been kicking this FG.
Overall Grade A-
I just wanted to add a little something that I saw that happened on Sat. that needs to be recognized here and really shows the kind of coaches we are blessed to have here at Iowa State. Earlier in the game, Herman called a QB power play to the left and the Iowa defense brought an extra defensive man to that side and they stuffed the power play because they had one more defenders than we had blockers to account for them. Herman called a similar formation going into the last play of the game. Iowa brought over the extra defender just like before. Iowa State called a time out. They came out for the last play of the third overtime. The Will LB moved over one gap farther towards the strong side so when Jantz optioned off to the weak side, he was able to option off to White who had a clear running lane to the end zone because of the Will being one step behind. This shows excellent coaching and definately helped make a difference Sat.
After two weeks, I can tell you two things. The first is that Iowa State is a team on the rise. The second is that there is not a lot of drop in quality of the 3 big schools in Iowa: Iowa, Iowa State, and UNI. All three teams are looking to have very good teams and it looks to be a good year for everyone.
Iowa State at UConn
Iowa State is going on their first road game of the season. There are several players who have never played a road college football game and it can be overwhelming. It is also a Friday night kickoff which means one less day to prepare. UConn won the Big East and went to a BCS bowl game last season, but this is not that same team. They have a new coach which means a new system and they graduated a lot of players. In week 1 UConn easily defeated a horrible Fordham team 35-3 and last Sat. they lost a close one to Vanderbilt in Nashville 24-21. I think UConn will be ready to play and we can’t afford a slow start on the road. It will be interesting to see how Steele does away from the friendly confines. I envision another close game and ISU pulling out the win by a touchdown. Go Cyclones!