2009 ISU @ Nebraska ISU wins 9-7
2010 ISU @ Texas ISU wins 28-21
2011 Oklahoma St. @ ISU ISU wins 37-31
2012 ISU 37 TCU 23
Each of Paul Rhoads’ seasons as the head football coach at ISU has seen a major upset for the program. On Saturday, the ISU team just made it 4 teams in 4 seasons with their historic upset of TCU in front of a crowd of 42,152 horned frog fans. Let me say right now, that there is no question that this is a huge win for our program, but breaking from the tradition we seem to have of one major upset each season, I don’t think we are done yet. I think we are going to have an even bigger upset against Kansas St. this coming weekend.
Here are a few stats to put the importance of this win into perspective. TCU had the longest active winning streak in the country at 12 games prior to this game. TCU had a 40-3 home record over the past 8 seasons. This was the first time in the history of the program that ISU has beaten a ranked opponent on the road for 3 straight years. This is the first time ISU has beaten a team ranked 15 or higher on the road since they beat Nebraska in Lincoln 24-21 in 1977. Yes, 1977! I was half a year old when that win occurred. No doubt this win was huge.
When you looked at the game last week, there was a bunch of things that ISU did very poorly and needed to improve upon if they hoped to even have a chance at wining this game. To their credit, they stepped up and improved in almost every single area. There are many reasons we won this game, but the biggest reason was that we were simply more physical. We owned the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. We came out and hit TCU in the mouth from the first snap and we did not stop until our team was in the corner of the stadium singing the fight song to the ISU fans who were in attendance. We welcomed TCU to the BIG 12 in grand style and showed them the level of physicality that we play with in this conference. I don’t think TCU was expecting that and they simply looked physically and morally defeated by the end of the game and that was so cool to see!
Winning the turnover battle, which we did 5-1, for the first time this season was also huge. We caused TCU to make mistakes and we avoided making big mistakes ourselves and that was huge. We need to continue to win the turnover battle moving forward if we want to have continued success.
There are 9 players on the ISU roster who came from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area so this was a coming home party for several of the ISU players. It was a chance for them to show what TCU missed out on by not recruiting them. Don’t kid yourself, that is a huge motivator to those kids. None of those 9 players played better than Jared Barnett, who attended high school in nearby Garland, TX.
In big games, you need to have your seniors step up and make big plays and you don’t have to have to go any further than Josh Lentz. He had the game of his career. AJ Klein, Jake Knott, and Jake McDonough also stepped up and played outstanding all game. It was a great effort by the seniors.
Last week the offense looked about as bad as you can look. The line play was very bad, the QB position was not productive, WRs were not making plays and the offensive play calling was very vanilla and predictable. The offense was called out and they responded by playing their best game of the season so far. ISU ended up having 350 yards of offense in the game that consisted of 152 yards rushing and 198 yards passing. ISU started the game fast when Barnett made a 51 yd TD pass to Josh Lentz on the opening drive. The offense followed it up with a 74 yd Barnett to Lentz pass on their third drive. In those two long passing TD drives, ISU had 79 yds passing. The offense only had 73 yds passing in the entire game against Texas Tech. Our offense scored 37 points in the game. TCU had only given up 29 points total through its first 4 games. While the defense had another strong showing, we definitely needed those points. I am not saying that the offense does not still have areas that they need to improve. There were some areas that lacked. At halftime, the offense had only 4 first downs and two of those were on the two long passing plays. Our offense needs to do a better job of having consistent, steady drives that eat up clock and give our defense a chance to rest. We need to be winning the time of possession battle and we clearly did not in this game as TCU had the ball for 35:56 to our 24:04. That being said, the offense came out of the locker room and had one of their best drives of the season when we really needed it. They moved the ball 80 yds on 8 plays and a scored a TD when Barnett hit Lentz on a 1 yd scoring pass. Just great improvement shown by the offense.
Now to the QB battle. Steele Jantz vs. Jared Barnett. Who would start? Coach Rhoads decided that it was time to make a change and he decided to start Jared Barnett for the first time since the Pinstripe Bowl last season. Coach said the fact that they were playing in Texas did have some effect on his decision. Well, it would appear that he definitely made the right choice. I’m not saying that Jared Barnett is a better QB than Jantz right now, but for whatever reason, it seems to work. The offense just seems to play better when Barnett is in at QB. Maybe Jared is a better leader, maybe he is a better motivator. Jared came out in a hostile environment and he simply performed. Jared was 12 for 21 passing the ball for 3 TDs and 1 INT. He also ran the ball 9 times for 30 yds. These are not superstar numbers, but you don’t always have to have superstar numbers to be successful. Sometimes you just have to be good at managing the game, not turning the ball over, and letting your other players on offense step up and make big plays and that is exactly what Barnett did. I don’t know if Barnett is a better QB for sure, but he seems to be better in our offense, with our other players and if it is working, you just have to go with it and right now, there is no QB battle, Jared has won the battle hands down at this point. Coach Rhoads said after the game that Barnett showed “strong nerves and performed.” I agree 100% and that is why he is your starting QB moving forward.
One of the big criticisms from last weeks game was the play calling. It just seemed so predictable. When we struggled, we kept calling the same plays over and over again even though it did not seem to be working. Courtney Messingham, the new offensive coordinator, was called out for his ability to call a game and man did he step up in a big way. We came out strong and threw the ball over the top. We mixed in zone run reads and even called a reverse pass at the perfect moment for the score. It was an anything goes offense that was run on Saturday. It was one of the best called games on offense I have seen in a very long time and it was great to see. Congrats on proving your doubters wrong Coach Messingham.
I thought that the defense played very well overall. They gave up 455 yards offense including 270 yards passing and 185 yards rushing, which may seem like a lot, but when you look at TCU’s offense and some of their numbers they have put up this year, ISU did a pretty good job. The defense hit them hard from the start and kept on hitting them hard. They made them pay for every yard they did gain. The defense forced 5 turnovers which was just outstanding. The DL got great pressure on backup QB Boykin all game long, causing 3 INTs and 2 fumbles. DL Jake McDonough had an outstanding game and recorded 2 of the 4 total sacks on the day. Boykin started the game after starter Casey Pachall was suspended for the game after his drinking incident. The defense limited Boykin to 23-40 passing for 270 yards and caused 3 interceptions. Welcome to life in the Big 12. DE David Irving stepped up huge with His INT return for a TD with 7:51 left in the game to put us up by 2 scores. Jake Knott INT with 2:51 left in the game put the game away. Jacques Washington also had an INT early in the game. When you are playing on the road against a tough ranked opponent, getting turnovers is huge and the defense really stepped up in this game. I thought the biggest series was when TCU came out of the locker room on offense and our defense held them to a 3 and out including a sack. That killed TCU’s momentum in the second half. Another great game by our great defense.
One area that did not shine bright in this game was our special teams. Arceo missed another extra point, his third of the season. This just can’t keep happening. Something has to click with him or we can’t continue to put him on the field. This came after he made a 41 yard field goal, which was outstanding. It just does not make any sense. Our kickoff cover unit gave up way too many return yards. TCU had kickoff returns of 52, 38, and 39 yards. I understand that Skye Dawson was a great returner, but you just can’t keep giving a great offensive team that good of field position. We need to get this corrected soon or Kansas State will just burn us.
Now, for the games MVP. While many players stepped up and played great games, there was one who stood out like a gem. Senior WR Josh Lentz had 5 catches for 147 yards with three TDs. To put it into perspective, Josh had 132 yds receiving through his first 4 games. He also threw for a 15 yd TD pass to TE Ernst Brun on a reverse pass. It was a great play call at the perfect time and Josh executed it perfectly. Josh had a 51 yd TD reception on the fourth play of the game and then later in the first quarter, he had a 74 yd TD reception. Just a great performance when we really needed him to step up. I will go our on a limb and say that K State won’t try to cover him one on one this week!
I would like to give two honorable mentions for MVP in this game. Jared Barnett came out amidst great uncertainty and put on a real winning performance. He made great decisions on when to throw and when to run. He did a great job reading the one on one coverage which led to the two long TD passes. He managed the offense with great efficiency and only had one really bad toss all day on the INT right before half. He stepped up when we really needed to see something out of our QB.
My last honorable mention for MVP goes to So DE David Irving. This is a guy who has not seen the field a lot up to this point, but he made the most of his opportunity and made one of the biggest plays of the game. Getting his hands up on the pass, he deflected and intercepted a Boykin pass and ran it back 20 yds for a TD at a point in the game when we needed a spark and what a spark he gave us. He took his opportunity and hit it out of the park. I would definitely say he has earned some more playing time in the upcoming games.
Special Teams C
11 am 10/13/12
Jack Trice Stadium
Kansas State is one of the top teams in the big 12 and is ranked #6 in the country in the AP Poll and #5 in the country in the coaches poll. K State is coming off a 56-16 drubbing of their in state rival Kansas at home last week.
While Kansas State will not blow you away with size or speed, they play very hard and they play very smart. They are going to be a really tough opponent.
The two players that we need to key on is RB John Hubert who ran for 101 yds on just 10 carries. The other is a dual threat QB that does not come along very often. Collin Klein passed for 129 yds and ran for 116 yds in last weeks win over Kansas. The offense goes how he goes and if we can limit him, we have a real shot in this game.
Make no mistake, Saturday will be a huge game and Jack Trice Stadium will be packed and it will be electric. I think that if our defense can put in another great performance and limit what K State does on offense and if we can move the ball on offense and not turn it over, we have a great shot at our second monumental upset of the season. In fact, I am calling the upset right now. It is going to be a great game Saturday and I for one can’t wait.