Texas A&M 33 ISU 17
Let me start by saying that I thought that the ISU team showed some real improvement over last weeks embarrassment at Columbia. Along with the definite progress, I thought that the energy level was much improved. The team seemed to play with more heart. While progress is definitely a step in the right direction, it was still not enough to overcome a very strong A&M team. ISU gave up 510 yards offense (247 rushing, 263 passing) while only gaining only 305 yards of offense (125 rushing, 180 passing). A&M definately showed why they were the stronger team as they pulled it out during the stretch in front of the homecoming crowd of 51,131 to drop ISU’s record to 0-4 in the Big 12 and 3-4 overall. Here are some of my thoughts about how the game went.
The ISU offense could not have started the game any worse than they did. Steele Jantz came out and threw an interception on the very first play from scrimmage on offense deep in our own territory. Over the course of the first 3 possessions on offense, ISU gained no first downs.
Jantz had a terrible start. Over the first 3 offensive series, Jantz was 0-4 passing for no yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception. The passes he did throw were way off target and didn’t even have a chance of being caught. It didn’t look like he was playing with any swagger whatsoever. I am not sure if it is a confidence shaken issue with Steele or the remanent of the ankle injury he sustained in the Connecticut game, but it was clear from the very start of this game, that Jantz did not have it on this afternoon and keeping him in the game would be like riding the Titanic to the bottom of the ocean.
At that point it was clear that the offense was going nowhere and was not staying on the filed long enough to give our defense, who was playing stellar, any type of break. Coach Rhoads made a very good choice and decided to bring in backup Jared Barnett at QB. The ISU crowd who was so hungary to cheer for anything cheered very loudly when Barnett came into the game. Despite almost no experience, Barnett came out very strong and poised and the entire demeanor of the offense changed at that point. Barnett captained the offense immediately to a 9 play, 83 yard drive which included a key 29 yard reception by Josh Lentz, and ended with a TD that gave ISU a 7-3 lead in the game. It was an amazing job! The offense also had a very solid offensive drive in the middle of the third quarter that went 8 plays 74 yards and ended in a TD on White’s 19 yard TD run. Lentz also had another key 29 yard reception during this drive as well.
While these two drives looked great, the offense was very inconsistent overall and did not have enough good drives. On ISU’s first 10 possessions on offense, 6 of those were 3 and out or less. That put our defense on the field way too much. Again penalties were a problem as ISU had 7 penalties for 70 yards. We started shooting ourselves in the foot again.
I thought the Offensive line played very well at times. They got off the ball and were able to drive the A&M DL off the ball for some solid running plays. I also thought this was some of the better pass protection they have shown all season, but the problem is that it was not sustained over the whole game and at times there were several breakdowns on the OL. They did end up giving up 2 sacks and at times could not move the ball at all. There were also several times that we had false start penalties on the OL which hurt us greatly and hindered us from sustaining drives. Sustained production is what is sorely needed.
I thought that James White had a pretty solid game at RB. He ended the game with 60 yards rushing and was able to find some good holes under the very tough A&M defense and was able to find good yardage. The highlight of his day was his 19 yard TD run in the 3rd quarter.
I thought that Josh Lentz had one of his best days as a Cyclone WR. He set career highs with 8 receptions and 117 yards. This was the first 100 yard + game of his career. He had several key catches that kept drives going. He was the only WR who played very well. I thought that Reynolds played very poorly in a game that really needed him to step up and make some plays. The key here was too many dropped balls which really hurt us. There were several times that a pass was right where it needed to be and the WR just dropped it. This needs to be a continued focus on the season.
At QB, Jantz did nothing and is going to be the backup in the next game. I am not giving up on him as a QB, but he needs to seriously evaluate how he came out in this game and figure out what he needs to do to get back to being a successful QB at ISU.
I thought Jared Barnett did very well for his first real playing experience. He sparked the offense and made some real nice plays. He seemed to know when to tuck the ball away and run with the ball. He had several very good runs as he rushed for 66 yards and was the leading rusher for the game. He ended the game 16-36 for 180 yards. He had no touchdowns, but he also had no interceptions. Jantz did have on fumble, but White was able to recover it. The fact that we did not have any turnovers was very key and it kept us in the game well into the 4th quarter which is all you can really hope for at this point. Barnett’s performance was far from perfect and he has several things to work on. He needs to continue to work on his check-down progressions. There were several times in the game that his 3rd or 4th option was open and he never saw them. He also needs to stop throwing the ball to guys who are double-covered because this will come back to haunt him if he does not. Overall, he showed great poise for his level of experience and he definitely has the tools to improve and possibly become a very good QB in the future. I am excited to see what he can do against Texas Tech next week as the starter.
Let me start with the positive. The defense played the best overall defense in the first quarter that I have seen them play under the Coach Rhoads era. Coach Wally really had them ready to play. Right at the beginning on the game, the defense took over with A&M in scoring position. They held tough and limited them to a FG. Texas A&M has one of the best offenses and especially rushing attacks in the country and they held them to 23 offensive yards and only one yard rushing in the first quarter. That is outstanding! When we play like that, we can stop any offense in the country. We also had 3 sacks on the day which is very solid. It means we were getting a lot of pressure. I thought the energy and the fight of the defense was outstanding throughout the game.
Unfortunately, the defense was not able to sustain it for the whole game. Right at the end of the first half and into the second half we allowed them to score 3 touchdowns on consecutive drives and then a FG on the next drive that allowed A&M to take a commanding lead which we could never recover from. Texas A&M figured out our defensive scheme and were able to make adjustments that we could not stop. They change formations and went to a zone running attack and had the RB cut the ball against the grain for countless large gains on the ground that just killed us. We had an answer for the flow of the zone run, but we could just not pick up the running back on the cut back.
Let me start with the DL. I thought they played outstanding throughout the whole game. Jake McDonough played one of his best games as a Cyclone while getting a sack. Patrick Neal was very solid. Jake Lattimer got some good pressure from the edge and Steve Rumpelheimer was a force on the inside. They got pressure and they drove the A&M line back and allowed us to get several key stops on defense. I am naming the entire DL the MVPs of this game.
The LBs played very well. AJ Klein continues to play tough and I though he had a outstnding game with many key tackles. Knott is continuing to struggle through his arm injury, but still played very tough. They came up very hard in the run game and had several key stops.
The DBs played OK at times, but were not consistent enough. Leonard Johnson played an outstanding game at corner with 9 tackles.
Overall, the bottom line was, that when we really needed to stop A&M we couldn’t and it hurt us down the stretch. We allowed them 5.7 yards per offensive play which is way too many. We ended up giving up 247 yards rushing which is way too many. Christie Michael had 142 yards rushing and Cyrus Gray had 127 yards to lead the A&M attack. Way too many. I think at times we made Ryan Tannehill, the A&M quarterback, get out of the pocket and try throws on the run which he did not look very strong at. Ryan ended the day with 24-43 passing for 263 yards. He threw for 2 TDs and no interceptions.
Special Teams A
I thought that the special teams played an outstanding game. I thought that this was easily their best performance of the season and they kept us in this game far longer than we could have been.
I thought the weakest link on special teams was the punting. VanDerKamp had one really poor punt which cost us dearly, but the rest of his punts were pretty solid. He is 3rd in the Big 12 right now in punting average which is a real plus. Overall, the punt team did outstanding and even had a fumble recovery on a punt when the ball deflected off an A&M blocker downfield. That was outstanding.
I thought our KO return team was outstanding. Lentz had 3 returns for 67 yards and Jarvis West had 2 returns for 48 yards. They gave us a lift several times throughout the game, especially since the offense was not moving the ball consistently.
I thought that our KO coverage team was simply amazing. Grant Mahoney was kicking off the ball very strong all night. Our coverage team was not allowing A&M any good returns all afternoon long. On one play in particular, #39 Matt Morton came down and put an earth-shattering hit on the A&M return guy. The A&M player got up and shook his head knocking out the cobwebs. He walked to the sidelines and went down on the field before he got to the sidelines. I just loved that play.
Our kicking game was perfect today, which was a real confidence boost that we need very badly. Zach Guyer was 2-2 on extra points and was 1-1 with a 43 yard FG at a very crucial point in the game.
While, I was not happy that we lost the game, I was very happy with the improvement that this team showed. They played with great heart and great energy and stood toe to toe with one of the better teams in the country for a good portion of this game. We need to continue to develop as a team and build on this improvement. We need to show more consistency and really work on sustaining drives on offense and trying to put more points on the board. If we can do this, we can hopefully get a couple of upsets and beat Kansas and get to a bowl game this year which seemed like a pipe-dream prior to the season.
ISU at Texas Tech 6pm Lubbock, TX
Texas Tech is coming off a monumental 41-38 upset of Oklahoma in Norman this past weekend. It was one of the biggest wins in the history of their program. They look very good on offense. They average 535 yards/game and 43.8 points a game. Sth Doege is their QB and he is having a great year directing the Red Raider attack. The achilies heel of this team is their defense. They are 111th in the country in rush defense giving up 219 yards/game and they are just plain bad. We need to really capitalize on this and put some points on the board. Anything can happen. I really think that ISU will continue to show great improvement and will keep the game close and pull out the upset down in Lubbock. Go Cyclones!