OSU 31 ISU 10
A large OSU homecoming crowd of 57,019 watched their Cowboys, dressed in complete orange with new orange helmets with Pistol Pete on the side, knock the Cyclones into submission last Saturday. The game was close until the second half, when the Cowboys showed their superior play and unrelenting attack that proved to do the Cyclones in.
So what went wrong? Not too much different here from every game the Cyclones have lost this season. If I was going to sum up why we lost this game, the two words would be execution and consistency. When I say these two words I am referring to the lack of these two things and these things go hand in hand. There were times when ISU had some really great plays on offense and the execution looked great. There was more times that we ran plays and you just sat there and went “What was that?” There were plays on defense that we punched OSU in the mouth, but there were other plays where the Cowboys made big plays and our defense just looked totally out of position. Even though we had some great plays on both offense and defense in this game, we just did not have enough consistency with these great plays. This kept our defense from getting the Cowboys off the field. Lack of consistency caused the offense to continue its terrible trend of having more 3 and out drives than anyone would care to recognize. The players and coaches have been talking over and over about their lack of execution and lack of consistency. Until we improve in these two areas, there will not be many wins in the near future of the program.
I think the part that makes this reality so very frustrating is how close this program really is to turning the corner of becoming a Big 12 title contender. I mean, we are a lot closer than most people think. I few plays made here and there, a few more sustained drives, a few fewer mistakes, and we could easily be undefeated right now and sitting in the driver seat at earning a Big 12 title. Really! I am not dreaming here. Being so close where you can actually see the promised land, but not being able to quite reach it, just tears your heart out as a Cyclone fan. Don’t get me wrong, Cyclone fans are not about to give up on their team. Cyclone fans have been through about anything you could imagine a fan going through, yet we are still there every home game cheering our lungs out. I do believe that the corner will be turned and I do believe it will be sooner than later, but that last leg of the journey, the part right before the goal is reached, is sometimes the hardest part of the journey. We will get there and when we look back to these games we lost, we will understand that these gut wrenching losses were an important part of the journey. They made us continue to have the focus necessary to reach the level we strive for and once we do break out and become a really great program, we will have an appreciation for it that will exceed that of other high-profile program fan bases because of what we have been through.
This was another anemic game for our offense. The Cyclones had 341 yards on offense (240 yds passing, 101 yds rushing). ISU is averaging 20.3 points and 277.5 yds of offense in Big 12 Conference play. There is no doubt that this lack of production has really put a great strain on our defense and has been an Achilles for this team this year. Our blocking was spotty, there were too many WR drops, and way too many misfires from the QB position.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom on offense. The offense came out firing with a 35 yd pass from Barnett to Bundrage on the first play of the game. On our first offensive drive, the offense moved the ball 75 yds and ended the drive on a 2 yd TD pass to Woody. It was really an option play and Barnett pitched the ball to Woody who ran it into the end zone, but was later ruled a pass since the pitch was a forward pass. Arceo made the extra point and it was 7-0 Cyclones right away. On the offense’s second drive, the offense drove the ball 52 yds and ended with a 41 yd FG by Arceo. First two drives, we were moving the ball, sustaining drives and passing the ball all over the field. The play calling was great and it looked like the offense was finally breaking out of its hibernation.
But it was not to be. That was the end of any form of sustained drives for the rest of the afternoon. The offense was only 4 of 17 on third down conversions for the game and in 6 of the final 11 possessions on offense, we did not get one single first down. So what in the world happened? How can we start so well and then just absolutely go the other way? I think a big part of it was the OSU defense. After those first two drives, OSU made some defensive adjustments and just shut us down. We were never able to readjust to their adjustments and took ourselves right out of the game.
We had 2 turnovers on offense. One was an interception thrown by Barnett and the other was a fumble by RB Shontrelle Johnson. Hanging on to the ball is something we have to do. We can’t afford to have turnovers, especially considering the struggles we have been having on offense.
The offensive line again had a sub par performance. This was very costly since everything start with the offensive line. Again, the line did not control the line of scrimmage. We needed to knock the OSU off the line and establish a running game, but were never able to do that. Their pass protection was suspect most of the game to the extent that the offense had to adjust and have the QB purposely roll out of the pocket to have enough time to get any type of decent pass off in time. We are sitting here after 7 games and still waiting for the OL to step up and play like they are capable of. Going into the season, the offensive line was supposed to be one of our strengths this season, but so far they have been just a little better than disappointing.
I feel like a broken record here, but our lack of running game really hurt us in this game. Our RB position only had 37 yds rushing on 11 carries. I understand that our top RB James White is out, but we have very capable backups. When the OL is run blocking as poorly as it has been, it is hard to run the ball. We have been forced into becoming a pass first offense. For the game, we only had 22 rushing attempts to 48 passing attempts. The only thing that kept our rushing game from being completely nonexistent was the fact that Barnett ran the ball 6 times for 49 yds, which is a 8.2 yd per rush average. Johnson averaged 3 yds per carry and Nealy averaged 4 yds per carry on his 2 carries. Woody had only 1 rush for 5 yds. I think that we need to be utilizing Jeff Woody a lot more rushing the ball, especially considering we are out our top RB.
Our WRs made some good plays at times in the game. Going into the game we were out our top receiver, Josh Lenz, due to a hamstring injury sustained in practice last Tuesday. Quenton Bundrage made his first start of his Cyclone career and had 4 catches for 62 yds including the big 35 yd reception on the opening play of the game. Aaron Horne had 8 receptions for 75 yds for the game and that performance alone makes him a candidate for MVP of the game. Overall, there were too many drops and consistency from the WR position is definitely still lacking.
Now to the QB position. What a mess! Barnett was 19 for 39 passing for 206 yds. He threw one TD and one INT. He was just so inconsistent. He came out and started the game great. Even after the offense stalled, he still had plays that looked real solid, where he made good reads and made some big passes and good runs, but he never could do it on a consistent basis. It was getting so bad that Coach Rhoads put backup Steele Jantz into the game to try to spark the offense. On Jantz’s first possession he looked horrible. He did not look ready to go at all. On Jantz’s second possession, he looked much sharper, but the ball was turned over when Jantz was forced to run the ball because no one was open and he was not able to get the first down. ISU was forced to try to get the first down instead of kicking the FG due to how late the game was getting and how much we were down. Jantz was 4 for 9 passing the ball for 34 yds with no TDs and no INTs. What is the answer here? I’m not totally sure. Neither Barnett nor Jantz has shown that they can step up and be consistent. Obviously there is a QB battle going on right now and I think that you have to include Sam Richardson in this race as well. I think that of all the QBs, Richardson has the strongest arm. The only question I have with Richardson is his knowledge of the offense. I think you have to continue to give all three a chance to win the spot. Whoever does the best job has to be the starter. It is a shame though that our offense has to struggle so much in a season where our defense has looked so dominant.
Our defense played good at times in this game, but overall, I would say that this game was the worst performance by our defense so far this season. Our defense allowed OSU to gain 625 yds on offense (210 rushing and 415 passing). We gave up 31 points, which is well under the 48 points they have been averaging per game, but it is still way too many. We allowed the Cowboys to be 9 of 18 on third downs. There were several plays where we had the cowboys in a third and long situation and allowed the Cowboys to make a big play for a first down. Walsh, the Cowboy’s QB, was 32 for 47 passing the ball for 415 yds, one TD and no INTs. Walsh looked really strong on the day making great passes to his receivers all game long. Our defense allowed way too many yards rushing. The Cowboys RB Randle had 151 yds rushing on 24 carries for a 6.3 yd rush. When you have a RB averaging 6.3 yds rushing, I would’ve kept running him too. The DL allowed the OSU OL the push them back and control the line of scrimmage. When this happens, it is hard for the LBs to be effective. We just showed an overall inability to stop the Cowboys on offense which put us in a deeper hole with our paralyzed offense. We just could not stop them consistently, allowing runs, passes, and screen passes to make us look silly at times.
The defense was not terrible. They played with great effort and made some great plays in this game. The defense kept it a one score game til midway through the 3rd quarter against the 3rd best offense in the country. We did get two turnovers on defense, which was huge. We had two fumble recoveries, one by Roosevelt Maggit and one by Deon Broomfield.
The defense allowed the cowboys to march down the field and score on their first possession of the game. We had gone up by 7 points on a great drive by the offense and if we could have kept the Cowboys from scoring on their first possession, it could have changed the momentum of the game at that point. We then turned around and started the second half by allowing them a 62 yd TD play to start the second half, which was another huge momentum swing in favor of the Cowboys. Overall, this was not one of our defenses better efforts and improvement will have to be made if we hope to stop the explosive offense of Baylor.
On a bright note, I thought that our special teams played one of their best games of the season. Freshman kicker Arceo made a 41 yd FG and made his only extra point attempt. Punter Kirby VanDerKamp had an outstanding game punting the ball. The KO cover unit allowed 2 returns for 33 yards and the punt cover unit allowed 4 returns for 28 yards, which is only 7 yds per return. They will have to continue to play well so we can capitalize on field position in upcoming games.
My MVP for this game was punter Kirby VanDerKamp. Kirby punted the ball 9 times for 424 yds, which is 47.1 yds per punt. He had one punt for 60 yds. He also had 3 punts that landed inside the Cowboy 20 yd line. VanDerKamp has had an outstanding senior season and the field position he has given us time and time again has kept us in many of our games this season.
I think that there are also two honorable mentions for MVP. Safety Durell Givens played an outstanding game. He had 12 tackles for the game, with 11 of those being solo tackles. He has 47 tackles on the season so far. He also forced one of the fumbles in the game. Givens played great defense and covered the Cowboy receivers like a blanket. My other honorable mention is WR Aaron Horne. Aaron had 8 receptions for 75 yds and was the most consistent target for the QBs all game. He stepped up big in the absence of fellow WR Josh Lenz.
Special Teams B+
Sat. 10/27/12 6 pm
Jack Trice Stadium
It is our homecoming and the Bears will come to Jack Trice Stadium very hungry for a win. they have one of the most explosive offenses in the Big 12. They are coming off a tough loss at Texas 56-50. The key to this game will be stopping QB Nick Florence who passed for two TDs and ran for another two TDs in the loss to Texas. They have had no problem moving the ball and scoring this season, but their defense is another story. They have the third worst scoring defense in the country allowing 41.6 points to their opponents this season. I mean they are just bad on defense. The question is can our offense step up, have some long drives and put some points on the board? If they can, I think we will win this game. I think that is exactly what will happen. I look for our offense to break out of its funk and put some major points up on the board and the defense will play a tough game and I am predicting a Cyclone victory by two TDs. It will be cold Saturday, but it will be a great crowd. I can’t wait for the game!