Cyclones lack firepower in Stillwater
The college football season is like a 12-episode soap opera. Within every program, there are ups and there are downs. If you follow things closely (if you’re reading this right now, chances are you do), you keep up on the drama. It’s rare that after a win or a loss or in this case, an episode, you don’t learn something about your team.
In it’s 31-10 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday, we learned next to nothing about Paul Rhoads' 2012 Iowa State football team.
A resilient Cyclone defense fought, clawed and somehow kept Iowa State in the game all the way into the fourth quarter but once again, the offense failed to produce time and time again.
The defense wasn’t without fault. After all, Oklahoma State did outgain the Cyclones 625-341 on the day. The scoreboard is where it ultimately matters and Iowa State came up 21 points short of pulling off its second straight Big 12 road victory.
Here’s the recap.
Defensive resiliency – I’ve already touched on this but given how many yards Oklahoma State was racking up and how little of a threat Iowa State’s offense was to put the ball in the endzone from the second quarter on, it’s a minor miracle that Iowa State was only two scores down entering this game’s final period. The Cyclones forced two fumbles on the day and nearly picked off a handful of J.W. Walsh passes. Iowa State’s defense was on the field for more than 34 minutes for the second week in a row. It’s a unit that gave up 625 yards and played maybe its worst game in two years, but it’s hard to get too down on this group that swarms to the football and is always a threat to turn the opposition over.
Baylor’s defense is next – I’ll dig into Iowa State’s offensive struggles momentarily. The Cyclones made Oklahoma State look like the 1985 Chicago Bears on Saturday but that shouldn’t be the case next weekend against a Baylor defense that is ranked dead last in division one football. The Cyclones have to improve right? Stay tuned.
Having said that, let’s keep it real. This offense has some major problems right now. Let’s hope that a date with the Bears helps sway things in the right direction.
Youth on offense – I’m specifically talking about wide receiver Quenton Bundrage and running back DeVondrick Nealy here (yes - I know I'm reaching). Neither player made much of an impact on the final score but both showed glimpses of why the coaching staff appeared to be so high on them at the beginning of the season. I know. This is a bit of a stretch for “Three Up” but as inept as Iowa State’s offense is at this point in time, a constant search for playmakers should always be a priority. These guys both have potential to be that.
Offensive issues – Where should I start?
It’s human nature to go after the quarterback. Fans do it all of the time. Let's investigate.
Jared Barnett led Iowa State to a game-opening touchdown but couldn’t get much going after that. Barnett’s 19-for-39 game was ugly but so was the play of his offensive line. It was a game where if Barnett actually had time (which didn't happen very often), he couldn’t complete the throw. If he made the throw, a receiver would drop the pass. If neither happened, Barnett was usually running for his life. Oh, and Iowa State had no running game at all, compiling 101 yards on 22 carries.
In 14 possessions, Iowa State’s offense went three and out six times. Two of those 14 possessions resulted in turnovers. Iowa State collected 16 first downs in the game compared to Oklahoma State’s 28.
Rushing attack – This was the focal point of Iowa State’s offense all week long leading up to Saturday morning. Jared Barnett ran the ball six times for 49 yards and looked good while doing so. However, Iowa State’s running backs still weren't able to do much of anything. Iowa State played three running backs on Saturday and Shontrelle Johnson’s 24 yards led the way. Nealy had eight yards on two carries while Jeff Woody had the football once and that carry went for five yards.
As far as Iowa State's offensive issues go, I have no idea what the answer is but I can guarantee you this is much more than a quarterback problem. I can't think of one aspect of this side of the football that is playing well right now.
Defensive line – I had Iowa State’s defensive line vs. Oklahoma State’s offensive line labeled as my key match-up heading into this one and the Cowboys dominated it. J.W. Walsh had all day to throw the football, felt little pressure and as a result, didn’t make many mistakes. Iowa State’s defense was close, oh so close, to picking him off a few times and you have to think that had Walsh felt more pressure, maybe those breaks would have gone Iowa State’s way. The Cowboys averaged 7.0 yards per play in this one.
Jake Knott – This had to go to a defensive player. Durrell Givens led the team in tackles with 12 (with a forced fumble) and was deserving of the award. Even so, I’ve got to go with Knott just based off of how much Iowa State’s linebackers are being forced to do. Knott and A.J. Klein are cleaning up a lot of messes out there.
Knott had 11 tackles and a pass break-up on the day.
Durrell Givens – As noted above, a great game by No. 24. He’s a heavy, heavy hitter.
Jacques Washington – Ditto. Washington had 10 tackles with a couple of close calls on potential interceptions.
Jansen Watson – From a coverage perspective, Watson has been far from perfect this season but I love the fact that he never seems to give up. Watson ended the day with seven tackles.
Jeremy Reeves – Had another solid day from a coverage standpoint. His tackle numbers are down because quarterbacks don’t throw in his direction very often.
Deon Broomfield – Iowa State’s nickel back forced a fumbled and recovered one.
David Irving – The sophomore recorded the first sack of his career.
Jeff Woody – He scored a touchdown for the second straight week, this a five-yard “reception” in the first quarter.
Kirby Van Der Kamp - For doing what Kirby Van Der Kamp does...
Edwin Arceo - Didn't miss a kick.
Quenton Bundrage – I like what I saw from Bundrage, a redshirt freshman who caught four passes for 62 yards and most importantly, looked shifty while doing so.
Aaron Horne – Led Iowa State’s offense with eight catches for 75 yards.