Williams: Five thoughts on the Morgantown miracle
Iowa State’s triple-overtime, 52-44 comeback victory over West Virginia on Saturday evening didn’t secure a bowl victory for the Cyclones or anything like that. It simply meant a 3-9 season instead of 2-10.
Big whoop, right?
On the surface level, yes. Looking back on this five years from now, that very well might be the case too. Or, it very well could be an emotional win that propelled Paul Rhoads’ young program into a critical offseason with positive momentum as opposed to hanging heads.
Or, maybe it was just a cool win with no larger meaning at all.
I’ll write more about the upcoming offseason on Sunday but before then, here are five final thoughts on Iowa State’s Morgantown miracle.
5 – Grant Rohach was fantastic
His play in the first quarter (5-for-10, 1 INT and 15 yards) was downright appalling. In Iowa State’s first five possessions, the Cyclones punted three times, fumbled and Rohach threw a bad pick that led to a West Virginia TD.
At that point, his 75 percent completion percentage outburst against Kansas looked like a complete and total fluke.
While a handful of variables played into Iowa State outscoring West Virginia 24-7 in the fourth quarter, there is no way that the Cyclones could have possibly won that game without superb play and leadership from the quarterback position.
Rohach was 6-for-9 on third down in the second half during the comeback and Iowa State scored either a field goal or touchdown on its last seven possessions.
It was one game and by all means, a quarterback competition will still transpire this spring. But over the last 14 days, Rohach went from being maybe (I stress maybe) a slight favorite to the clubhouse leader to start the 2014 season opener. Over the last two months, he really did get better with every rep and after all, isn’t that exactly what you look for out of a young football player?
4 – Kirby Van Der Kamp is Mr. Automatic
Here’s a shout out to my friend Chris Andringa who threw this stat out on Twitter after the game.
Kirby Van Der Kamp finishes his career 7-for-7 on 4th-down conversion attempts -- five rushing, two passing.
Lost in this comeback victory was another brilliant fake punt call by Rhoads, when Kirby Van Der Kamp ran for 21-yards and a first down with just over 10 minutes to go in the game. Iowa State was losing 38-21 at the time.
You ready for this Colin Downing?
3 – #Winning
All season long, we heard a lot about youth and injuries and how they were greatly responsible for Iowa State’s losing season. The closer Iowa State got to the end of the season though, the healthier this team got.
They won games. That is what is encouraging about ending the season with two wins in a row. As Rohach (and all of the other young guys for that matter) got more reps, they actually got better. As the team got healthier, the team got better. Had Iowa State finished 1-11 after getting guys back, important players more reps all while facing lesser competition, that would have been cause for major concern.
2 – This team never quit on Rhoads
Say what you want about Iowa State going 3-9. Fire whomever you want. Don’t take away the fact that this team never quit on their coach, and on each other. This was far from the best team that has ever dawned the Cardinal and Gold but it might be one of the grittiest.
1 – Seniors stepped up
The way Saturday played out with numerous seniors playing key roles in the comeback was fitting. On defense, stalwarts Jacques Washington and Jeremiah George did their thing.
Washington had two picks, a fumble recovery, a pass break-up and eight tackles in the win. George forced tow fumbles of his own with a pass break-up, a hurry and seven tackles.
Offensively, Justin Coleman and Shontrelle Johnson stole the show combining for three touchdowns in the victory.
Going back to thought No. 2, No. 1 has a lot to do with it and for that, these seniors should be commended for not only their effort this season, but their hearts as well.