ISU 35 Baylor 21
It was Iowa State’s 100th Homecoming and a great crowd of 54,877 came out on a cool Saturday evening to see the Cyclones beat the Baylor Bears 35-21 in what was a must win game to keep our bowl hopes alive. The win brought the Cyclones to a 5-3 record overall and 2-3 record in the Big 12. The Cyclones need one more win to gain bowl eligibility for the 3rd time in the past 4 seasons.
Before I get into the specifics about the game, I want to take a moment to talk about one of the most courageous acts I have witnessed at Jack Trice Stadium. Jake Knott, has an injured shoulder. Surely everyone has heard this, but I don’t think people understand how bad it really is. Jake had shoulder problems that he bravely played through last season. This season, he hurt his shoulder again in the Kansas State game. Jake would not come out though. He played through the pain and that is why most people never even realized that he had hurt it. He played last week at Oklahoma State, through really bad pain. When the doctors examined his shoulder, they realized that his left shoulder is almost completely destroyed. I mean there is nothing left of it. He will have to have complete reconstructive surgery on his shoulder so he can have some quality of life and be able to still use his shoulder when he is older. The original plan for this game was to have Jake Knott start this game for the first two plays on defense and then, most likely, be done with his ISU career. Jake had begged the coaches to let him have the start so he could end his career on his terms. They allowed him to do that, but he never came out. He played every snap on defense. Baylor got possession of the ball and moved it down to the one yard line to start the game. It was third and goal and Jake Knott forced a fumble and we got a huge turnover when we needed it so badly. The forced fumble was the 10th of his Cyclone career. Jake played through great pain and was flying all over the field collecting 11 tackles in the game. I want everyone to understand something here. Every play that Jake Knott is on the field playing defense right now, he is risking any possible NFL career. The ISU team and this season mean more to Jake than his own health and his own future. He gives everything he has for this team and his teammates. He plays through the pain and is literally risking his future quality of life because he cares that much. When I think of the sacrifices he is making right now, it brings a tear to my eyes. It is one of the bravest and selfless things I have ever witnessed. We have to realize that his ISU career is soon going to be over, hopefully after our bowl win. I just hope that Jake’s defensive teammates can learn from Jake what it means to really be a Cyclone. I know that I appreciate it fully. Every Cyclone fan needs to take a second and give him a standing ovation for what he is doing.
Update: Before the finishing of this blog, I heard word that Jake Knott’s career as a Cyclone is over. He had surgery yesterday on his shoulder in Chicago and will definitely miss the rest of the regular season. There is an outside chance that he could play in the bowl game if the Cyclones get to one. What a finish it was! As a side note, Jake was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week this week. I guess that is a fitting way for him to go out. He will be missed, but never forgotten. He has had as big of a hand in turning this program around as anyone who has put on a Cyclone uniform. Thanks Jake for showing me what it means to be a real Cyclone!
This was absolutely a huge win! I think Coach Rhoads summed up the game perfectly with two simple words. Those two words were composed and energized. The Cyclones did play as a much more composed team this week, especially on the offensive side of the ball. When something bad happened, we maintained our composure and came back and did it better the next time around. As far as energy goes, it was off the charts for almost the entire game. The Cyclones played with an energy level that just showed they wanted the game more than the Bears did. They came with everything they had for 60 minutes and when we can play at that level, opposing teams don’t have much of a chance. I am so proud as a fan and former player the way those players represented the Cyclone Nation on Saturday night.
The offense picked a great time to come out of their recent slumber and come out of it they did. The offense had 557 yards of offense (176 yds rushing, 381 yds passing). There were so many things that the offense did well. The best thing we did on offense in my opinion was the fact that we had multiple long sustained drives. Here is a rundown of the sustained drives by our offense for the game:
- 12 plays for 75 yds (4:24)
- 9 plays for 67 yds (3:57)
- 10 plays for 73 yds (1:35)
- 14 plays for 81 yds (4:44)
- 8 plays for 74 yds (2:18)
One of our big problems coming into this game was our ability to have long sustained drives. We had so many 3 and outs in the game last week in Stillwater, and this caused us to never get any kind of rhythm on offense. It also kept our defense on the field most of the game and they just ran out of steam. It was a totally different story in this game. We had multiple long sustained drives and as a result, we had good rhythm and our defense got good breaks. We dominated the time of possession having the ball for 38:48 to only 21:12 for Baylor. We had a more than 17 minute advantage in this area and that was huge. This was only the second game this season that we had the advantage in the time of possession. The other game was the opener against Tulsa. I don’t think it is a coincidence that this game and that game have been our two best offensive showings of the season. Controlling the clock is huge with this team. The really impressive part is that we were in our jet offense most of the game and that is what led to us running 102 plays in the game on offense to only 81 plays for Baylor. 102 plays on offense is just a ridiculous number that you don’t see that often.
What helped more than anything else in this game was the fact that we were able to establish a running game. We ran the ball 48 times for 176 yds. Shontrelle Johnson ran the ball 16 times for 73 yds, Steele Jantz scrambled 10 times for 54 yds. James White returned to action after being out the past two weeks and ran the ball 10 times for 42 yds. Jeff Woody chipped in with 5 rushes for 10 yds. When we are able to run the ball, it makes our offense work. It opens up our passing game. It does not allow the defense to pin their ears back and gives Jantz a lot more time to make good decisions. This was an offensive resurgence and it couldn’t have happened at a better time.
I have been really hard on the offensive line this year because they have not really stepped up and played like they should this season. I do want to take the time here though and say great job! They really stepped up and played a great game as a unit. They knocked the Bear DL back and really established the line of scrimmage. They opened holes so we could establish the running game and they did much better with their pass protection. The offensive line did not give up any sacks in this game. Steele had more time to make decisions and that allowed him to really step up and perform much better.
Overall, I thought there were some great performances put in at the receiver position. First for the bad. There were way too many dropped balls in this game. Aaron Horne, our leading receiver had 6 drops himself, which is so uncharacteristic of him. The Cyclones had 8 dropped passes for the game. The coaches had no choice but to put him on the bench. Fortunately, we had several other WRs step up. Chris Young, Albert Gary, Jerome Tiller, and Jarvis West all stepped up and had great games. Jarvis West really stepped up. Coming into this game, West had played in 20 games as a Cyclone and was still without a TD reception. Not only did he get his first receiving TD in this game, but he got 2 more for 3 total TDs. He had 7 catches for 99 yards. He stepped up in huge fashion. Albert Gary had 5 catches for 76 yds, Brun, the TE, had 6 catches for 76 yds, and Chris Young had 7 catches for 61 yds. It was just a great performance by the receiver position especially when you consider that our two leading receivers Josh Lenz and Aaron Horne were on the sideline.
The QB position has been an issue for several games now. Who would start? We needed a big performance from our QB position and we needed it in a big way. Well, we got it. Steele Jantz got the start and put in his best overall performance of his Cyclone career. He was 36 for 52 passing the ball for 381 yds. Steele threw 5 TD passes and one INT. The 36 completions tied the school record for completions in a game that was set by former QB Austen Arnaud against Missouri in 2008. His 5 TD passes tied the single game total that Todd Bandhauer threw in Austin, Texas in the 1998 season. I remember that game especially well since I was one of the lineman protecting Bandhauer on that hot day in Texas. Jantz made good decisions as when to stay in the pocket and when to throw the ball. He also added 54 yards rushing on 10 carries. If you add up his passing and rushing yards, Jantz accounted for 78% of the yards our offense gained in this game. Just an outstanding effort.
I would like to highlight one sequence in this game that I thought was very crucial. Jantz had just made his only real major mistake in this game. It was in the 3rd quarter and Jantz underthrew a pass to an open Jerome Tiller, which allowed Baylor DB Rodney Chadwick to intercept the pass on the Baylor 6 yd line. If Jantz had been accurate, it would have been his 4th TD pass of the night and would have given us a 28-14 lead. Instead, Baylor had the ball and they moved it down the field on our offense. The Bears picked up three first downs before they faced a 4th and one at the Cyclone 19 yd line. The Bears had converted on 10 of 11 4th down attempts going into this game so of course they decided to go for it. Willie Scott and AJ Klein stood up QB Nick Florence on the sneak attempt and stopped him dead in his track for the turnover. So now the Cyclones took over and the question would be how would Jantz respond? Would he go into a shell after his INT like he has in the past? Not tonight. Jantz responded in huge fashion. Jantz directed the Cyclones 81 yds down the filed on 14 plays and topped the drive off with an 8 yd TD pass to Jeff Woody giving us a 28-14 lead. That sequence defined the game, because Baylor was in a position where they could have taken over the game and it could have gone in a totally different direction. Both the offense and defense stepped up at a crucial time and kept the momentum in the Cyclones favor.
Coach Rhoads did put Jared Barnett in for one series to start the second quarter. I would have to assume that he planned on doing this before the game because it came after Jantz had thrown a TD pass on the previous offensive possession. Barnett was not ready to go. He had no yards gained on 3 plays including a fumble and an incomplete pass. I think it is safe to say that Jantz will be the starting QB next week.
I thought that offensive coordinator, Courtney Messingham, called a great game. The offense was very effective and dominated the game. They ran 48 rushing plays and 54 passing plays. Ideally, you want to call an even game and that is exactly what they did. If it hadn’t been for the 8 dropped passes, we would have looked even better on offense. I loved how were not afraid to take some chances. Even though we didn’t recover it, I loved the fact that we opened the game with an onside kick. I loved the pass by Jerome Tiller to the corner of the end zone on the double reverse pass. I loved it how we were willing to go for it on multiple occasions on fourth down. On 4th and 7 at one point, we decided to go for it and Jantz threw a TD pass to Albert Gray. Our offense needed a spark and the offensive game plan took that into account and it really paid off.
I thought that the defense played one of their best games of the season. They allowed 541 yards (115 rushing, 426 passing). When TCU beat Baylor, they did it by stopping the Baylor running game and that is exactly what we did in this game. Baylor’s passing game has been dependent on their ability to run the ball and by stopping their running game, it took them out of their normal rhythm on offense.
Our defensive line played a great game. They stopped the run and forced Baylor QB Florence out of the pocket a lot. Florence was 31 for 512 passing for 426 yds. This included 2 TDs and one INT. The linebackers played their normal outstanding game with Knott and Klein leading the team in tackles. The secondary also played very well overall. The stopping of the Baylor rushing attack was huge. Florence scrambled 8 times for 30 yds. Seastrunk rushed 7 times for 30 yds and Salubi rushed 11 times for 27 yds.
Our defense caused turnovers from Baylor which was huge. We had 4 turnovers (3 fumbles, 1 INT). They made critical stops throughout the game. We limited Baylor to 8 for 16 on 3rd down. The defense did allow two early scores, but then our defense held Baylor scoreless for 38 minutes and 39 seconds until they scored one last time at the end of the fourth quarter. Our offense scored 28 points during that time. The defense held Baylor to 27 points below their season average. The Baylor offense was 3rd in the country in scoring coming into the game. Despite the great pressure we put on the Bears, we did not have a sack in this game and that is something we need to get. Despite this, the defense played their tails off.
The special teams had a very average game, not great, but not terrible either. VanDerKamp punted the ball 4 times for 147 yds for a 36.8 average. The punt cover team allowed -1 return yds for the game. The kickoff team allowed 4 returns for 85 yds, which is just over 21 yds per return. Arceo missed a 32 yd FG, which wasn’t great, but he did make all 5 of his extra point attempts, which is a positive. We need the special teams to make more plays if we are going to win this week.
My Co-MVPs for this game were Steele Jantz and Jake Knott. I have already said plenty about both of these guys. I also had 2 honorable mentions for MVP. WR Jarvis West stepped up and played the best game of his Cyclone career when we really needed it. LB AJ Klein had another outstanding game and lead the team in tackles with 13 tackles. Klein went over 300 career tackles and now sits at 14th on the all time list with 311 tackles. He was all over the field again and played a great game.
Special Teams B-
Jack Trice Stadium
11/3/12 11 am ABC
The Cyclones have a huge matchup with Oklahoma coming up. We have a game on prime time and it is a great opportunity to finally beat the Sooners. Oklahoma is one of three teams in the current Big 12 that we have not beat in the Rhoads era. The other two are Kansas State and West Virginia. Last year the Clones lost to the Sooners in Norman 26-6. Oklahoma is 5-2 (3-1) and ranked number 12 in the country. They are coming off a disappointing loss to Notre Dame at home 30-13. QB Landry Jones passed for 356 yds and 0 TDs in the game. WR Saunders had 15 catches for 181 yds.
Notre Dame gave us a great blueprint for how to beat the Sooners. ND played great defense and shut down the Sooner offense. Our defense is very capable of doing this, we just need to do it. We also need to have another offensive game like we did in this one. Being able to run the ball will be huge. There are many unknowns coming into this matchup. How will OU play after an embarrassing loss at home? Will they have a hangover? How will our defense play without our captain and leader Jake Knott? Which Steele Jantz will show up? I do not feel comfortable enough yet to make a prediction, but I can tell you that it will be a great crowd and I think this will be a very exciting game. Go Clones!