By Ian Smith,CycloneFanatic.com ContributorFollow Ian on Twitter @IanWsmith3
Football can humble teams in a hurry.
Iowa State entered Saturday night’s showdown with Texas riding high after a 3-0 start. Sixty minutes later and the Cyclones are searching for answers on how to protect the football after handing the Longhorns a big first half lead and essentially the game.
The No. 17-ranked Longhorns (4-0, 1-0) took advantage of every Iowa State (3-1, 0-1) mistake in a 37-14 victory at Jack Trice Stadium.
“You can’t play like we did to start the football game, again unfortunately, and win a football game against the 17th-ranked team in the country,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. “We will continue to work to find answers on some of the foolish things that are taking place.”
The first quarter continued to be a nightmare for Iowa State on Saturday. The reason why is simple.
Turnovers and penalties. The Cyclones can’t get out of their own way.
Once again, Iowa State turned the ball over three times in the opening quarter. The Cyclones have now been outscored 33-0 in the frame this season. The Cyclones are minus eight in turnover margin following the loss.
“It hurts,” quarterback Steele Jantz said. “Especially because it’s something we’ve been working on. We just have to keep working harder.”
Steele Jantz and James White started the turnover barrage when the duo mishandled a handoff. Moments later, Josh Lenz fumbled a kickoff return to set up another Longhorns score. Blake Gideon snared the last turnover when he stepped in front of a Jantz pass for a pick.
Texas scored its first 13 points of the game off Cyclones miscues. That was a small victory for Iowa State considering the Longhorns starting field possession after those three turnovers was the Cyclones’ 25-yard line.
“When you have possessions, you have to do something with it,” Rhoads said. “When you’re facing a team like Texas, you can’t turn the ball over. It was one of the major keys to victory in a game like this, to win the turnover margin. Obviously, we weren’t even close to doing that.”
As if the turnovers weren’t enough, penalties also hampered any chance of an Iowa State comeback. With the score 13-0, the Cyclones appeared to get a huge defensive stop. That’s until Leonard Johnson was flagged for an unforgivable personal foul penalty.
The next play, true freshmen David Ash connected with Mike Davis on a 48-yard touchdown pass for a 20-0 advantage.
“(The penalty) was certainly very pivotal,” Rhoads said.
The Longhorns scored on a blocked punt and a toss, reverse pass before the half ended to take a 34-0 lead into the locker room.
Defense holds its own
All things considered, the Iowa State defense played well. The Cyclones gave up 400 yards of total offense in the loss.
“I think Coach Wally Burnham put in a good plan this week,” linebacker Jake Knott said. “Except for a few big pass plays and stuff like that, I thought defensively we played pretty well.”
If not for the three early turnovers, Iowa State played toe-to-toe with Texas.
“From my vantage point, for over 60 minutes of this football game, from a physical standout and a personnel standout, we had an opportunity to play with this football team tonight.”
Even though the outcome was inevitable, Iowa State did some good things after halftime. James White scored from two yards out to get the Cyclones on the scoreboard, 34-7. White finished with 64 yards on just 11 carries.
In the fourth quarter, Jantz found freshman Chris Young in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. It was Young’s first career touchdown.
Any potential hangover from Saturday’s loss can’t last long. Iowa State travels to Baylor next Saturday.
“(This game) makes me want to puke,” White said. “I can’t wait to get back to practice."