ISU 51 Kansas 23
On Saturday, Stephanie, my neighbor Aaron, and I had the opportunity to travel to Lawrence, KS for the game. We traveled down to Valley Stadium in West Des Moines and we boarded the Cyclone Gridiron Club bus and at 11:30 am we took off and made out way to Lawrence. It was a fun trip down, sharing stories and such. We arrived in Lawrence around 3:30 pm and were directed to a parking lot where they were keeping all the Iowa State fans. Once getting off the bus and walking around a little while, I soon learned that they had this lot just for the visiting team. There were a lot of cyclone fans who had made their way to this game and since we were all grouped together, it was not that different from being in the tailgaiting lot in Ames on game day. I saw many of the same faces.
We walked around and tailgaited for a couple of hours and then we boarded a shuttle bus that was taking us over to the stadium since it was about 2 miles away. The mood on the bus was great. We sang the fight song at least 3 times. There were a select few Jayhawk fans on the bus, but they were not in a position to put up much fight.
Once we arrived at the stadium, we made our way to our seats which were in the very SW corner of memorial stadium. We were actually behind the south end zone. Pretty much the worst seats they could possibly give us, but we didn’t mind because all the Cyclone fans were together and there were a bunch of us. Of the 41,608 announced attendance, I would guess that about 4,000-5,000 of those fans were Cyclone fans.
It was senior night at Memorial Stadium and with only 1 win on their season, Kansas coach Charlie Weis was looking to do anything he could to get his team a win. In an effort to get their stands full, Coach Weis decided to buy the tickets for the KU students. If a KU student showed up to the game and showed their student ID, they got into the game for free. KU also came out with black pants and black jerseys with a white KU helmet. This was a uniform that they had not worn yet.
I will admit that there was some good energy to start out the game. KU came out in a couple of formations that they had not shown yet this season and drove the ball well and scored TDs on 2 of their first 3 offensive drives. We started the game moving the ball well, but then Jantz fumbled the ball and turned it over. We then got a fumble recovery on their 27 yd line, but we had to settle for a FG. We did not look great to start the game and I never felt that we were going to lose, but it looked like it would be a struggle. It is not certain if Jantz was hurt on the fumble play and not able to go, but then something magical happened. On our third offensive possession, backed up on our own 11 yd line following a holding call on the KO return, #12 Sam Richardson trotted out onto the field. The Cyclone fans were just as surprised as the KU fans and coaching staff were. What ensued was arguable the best college football debut in Iowa State history by a QB. I do want to put a disclaimer here that Richardson had come into a game earlier in the season, but he had never attempted a pass and it was only a couple of plays so I am counting this as his debut.
Sam Richardson immediately led the offense on a 10 play 89 yd drive that ended with a 11 yd TD run by Jeff Woody. Richardson completed 18 of his first 21 passes. He was very accurate with his passes and showed great patience on the zone read. Richardson went on to throw a 11 TD pass to Albert Gray, a 30 yd TD to Aaron Horne, and a 20 yd TD to Ernst Brun. He also ran for another TD in the 4th quarter. Richardson’s stat line read 23 for 27 passing for 250 yds, 4 TDs and 0 INTs. He ran the ball 11 times for 43 yds and a rushing TD. Sam passed for a 85% completion rate. Are you kidding me? Who does that? I understand that the KU defense is not near as good as Texas or Oklahoma, but dang. No one starts their college career with those numbers. I would have to look at the exact numbers, but I know for a fact that Seneca Wallace did not do that good in his first game as a Cyclone. Is Sam Richardson our QB now for the rest of his career? Possibly, but I am not ready to say that yet. I need to see how he does against a good defense and that probably won’t be until the bowl game because the one he will face in West Virginia next week is terrible. I can say with some level of certainty that he should be the starter in that game. All I can tell you is that we have 3 QBs on our roster that are very capable of leading our offense to success and victory. It just becomes a matter of who can do it consistently. Only time will tell on that one.
I thought that overall our offense played its best game of the season. A big reason for that was that our offensive line played its best game of the season. They did a great job of pass blocking. Richardson had good time to make good decisions on passes. As an offense we completed passes to 12 different receivers. That is great pass distribution. Lenz was back and played very well getting 6 catches for 78 yds. Aaron Horne seemed to get over “dropping the ball” funk he was in. Our offense has 307 passing yds out of 548 yds of total offense, which is pretty good.
Because of our passing game, it helped open some holes for running the ball and our offensive line did their best job of run blocking this season. We opened big holes and all the running back benefited from this. Jeff Woody had his best rushing game as a Cyclone. He ran the ball 9 times for 89 yds, which is a 9.9 yd per carry average. White ran the ball 6 times for 57 yds, which is 9.5 yds per carry. Shontrelle Johnson carried the ball 9 times for 51 yds, which is 5.7 yds per carry. That is great rushing production and led to us running for 241 yds in this game.
I was the most happy with the sustained drives we were able to have on offense in this game. We had drives of 89 yds, 39 yds, 42 yds, 80 yds, and 51 yds. We were 8 for 13 on 3rd down conversions, which is doing a great job of keeping drives alive. Our ball security was outstanding. Other than the fumble that Jantz had early in the game, we had no other turnovers. When our offense can stay two-dimensional, meaning we can run and pass the ball successfully, we have a very potent offense that is very hard to stop.
Our offense did not give up any sacks in this game, which is great and our time of possession was right at 50:50, which is a great improvement. We had a great showing on offense and we need this type of effort against West Virginia to get our 7th win.
Even though our defense started slowly, we were able to make some quick adjustments to the KU formations and did a much better job. Kansas ended up with 441 yds of offense (252 yds rushing, 189 yds passing), which is fairly good.
I did not think we did a good enough job of stopping the run. I immediately think of a 55 yd Td run that Pierson had after fooling our entire defense on a fake reverse. It was a well drawn up play and they executed it well.
I thought that for the most part, our defensive line did a good job of owning the line of scrimmage and putting pressure on their QB. Cummings started the game at QB, but played pretty poorly so coach Weis made the switch pretty early on to back up QB Crist, a Notre Dame transfer. Crist went 9 for 20 passing with 1 Td and 1 INT, which is not great. Their RB tandem did have some good production. Sims ran the ball 20 times for 81 yds. Pierson ran the ball 7 times for 73 yds. Our defense needs to do a better job of stopping the run. We will need their best effort against West Virginia to have a chance of winning that game.
We did a great job of getting turnovers in this game, which we needed. We had 4 turnovers (3 fumble recoveries, 1 INT). We also did a great job of stopping the Jayhawks on third down only letting them convert on 5 of 15 3rd down attempts.
I thought that DE Willie Scott had his best game as a Cyclone. He led the defense with 8 tackles and even had an INT. Just a great effort by him.
Our special teams played very well in this game. I start with K Arceo. He went 3 for 3 on FGs. He had 2 makes from 47 yds and one from 51 yds. He made all his extra point attempts and his job on kickoffs was great. I though he had his best game as a Cyclone.
VanDerKamp was again solid on punts. Our Kickoff return unit had 4 returns for 86 yds, which is 21.5 yds per return. Our kickoff cover unit allowed 5 returns for 108 yds, which is 21.6 yds per return. Overall, our special teams really stepped up and played a great game.
My pick for MVP is an easy one. Sam Richardson had a performance that he will tell his grandchildren about someday. You can’t write a better story than the one that unfolded on that turf in Kansas. He will have to keep improving so he can show this type of performance week in and week out, but I hope he did take the full 24 hours to enjoy that because it was something special. My honorable mention for MVP goes to the offensive line. They finally played to their full potential and their collective performance made all the difference in this game to allow us to go bowling again for the 3rd time in 4 years.
Special Teams A-
2:30 pm (ABC)
Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA
West Virgina comes into this game with a recorded of 5-5 overall and 2-5 in the Big 12. They have had an awakening to how much more tough the Big 12 is compared to the Big East Conference. They are currently on a 5 game losing streak.
Last week they lost a heartbreak game to OU 50-49 on a late come from behind win by OU. In that game, their RB Austin ran the ball for 344 yds and had 2 TDS. He had 572 all-purpose yds in the game. WR Baily had 13 catches for 205 yds and 4 TDs. ISU and West Virginia have never played each other in football before. The Mountaineer offense is very, very powerful. They are averaging 40.0 points per game, which is 11th in the country. They have an outstanding run and pass game. This game will be as tough as a test for our defense as we have seen all season. We need our defense to play like the defense of the first half of the season to have a chance in this game. On the other side of the ball, their defense is terrible. This is another chance for our offense to play well and put some points on the board. We need to do that.
I am very excited about this game. It is the day after Thanksgiving and we are on ABC. It is a chance to get our 7th win and show the country that we have a great team this year. I think we will play well in this game, but it will still be close. I think this one will come down to a kick and we will just have to see if we can make it or block it. Go Clones!