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    Curb the Mistakes

    Published Tuesday | September 11, 2007
    ISU Football: Chizik says Cyclones can curb mistakes
    BY STEVEN PIVOVAR
    WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER


    A number of small victories couldn't keep Iowa State from losing to Northern Iowa.

    But they do provide Cyclones coach Gene Chizik and his players hope that this season isn't the hopeless cause some outsiders are making it out to be after two games.

    Chizik said play on both lines and some special teams improved from the opening-game loss to Kent State.

    "There's always going to be a lot of negativity that surrounds an 0-2 start," Chizik said. "We can't let things that we might hear seep into the things we do. We show the players the things that we've done well as well as the things that are unacceptable.

    "But I don't think we're a team lacking confidence. Our guys know that they have to improve in certain areas, but once we put things together, we're going to have a football team that can challenge people. We certainly would like to be 2-0, but we're not."

    Iowa visits Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday for the annual showdown between the state's two major college programs. Chizik is excited about his first exposure to the battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy, just as quarterback Bret Meyer is about his fourth and final meeting with the Hawkeyes.

    "Everyone kind of marks this day as a big one," Meyer said. "We know how big it is and how we need to channel our excitement in the right direction."

    The assumption that the Cyclones have little to be excited about is off base, Meyer said.

    "We've struggled in our first two games and we need to get on track," Meyer said. "The thing we realize is how close we are. We look at the film and see how there are a lot of yards being left on the field.

    "Coach Chizik preaches not to get down after two games. We can get excited about getting back to practice because we know how close we are to fixing the mistakes we're making. That helps your confidence when you can see how little we actually need to fix."

    Turnovers, though, are a pressing concern. The Cyclones had three in the 23-14 loss to Kent State, one coming when the center snapped the football over Meyer's head. The same mistake happened in the fourth quarter of the 24-13 loss to Northern Iowa, killing a drive deep in Panthers territory.

    Meyer also has thrown four interceptions in the two games. One came on Iowa State's final play of the Northern Iowa game on a long pass thrown down the field, but two were off-balance, ill-advised throws that led to points by both opponents.

    "We're not going to beat anyone if we continue to turn the ball over," Chizik said.

    Meyer has completed 62.1 percent of his passes and is averaging 201.5 passing yards per game. The senior from Atlantic, Iowa, also has rushed for 74 yards, and his 238.5 yards of total offense per game ranks eighth in the Big 12.

    Chizik liked the way Meyer distributed the football against Northern Iowa. R.J. Sumrall and Marquis Hamilton each set career highs with seven catches against the Panthers. Hamilton leads the Cyclones with 10 receptions after two games, with Sumrall second with nine. All-Big 12 candidate Todd Blythe has seven receptions after catching just two balls against the Panthers.

    "I thought our downfield passing game improved against Northern Iowa," Chizik said. "We saw some receivers emerge, especially with Northern Iowa playing a lot of bump coverage on Todd. R.J. and Marquis each came through, and Bret did a good job of getting the balls to a lot of different guys.

    "We did a better job in the passing game, but we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot when we get in a position to score."

    Chizik also has been pleased with the protection Iowa State's rebuilt offensive line has given Meyer. The Cyclones ranked last in the Big 12 last season as the offensive line, with four senior starters, gave up 38 sacks. After two games, Iowa State has allowed just two sacks.

    "I like the way our linemen have developed an understanding in what we're trying to do in regard to protection," Chizik said. "And Bret understands the urgency we put on not taking sacks. We've thrown 70-odd times and been sacked twice. That's an improvement over last year, and that's something we can build on."

    Iowa State, which finished near the bottom of all the key defensive statistics in 2006, has allowed an average of 345 yards in the first two games. That puts the Cyclones seventh in total defense heading into Saturday's game.

    "Defensively, we're still far from where I want to be," said Chizik, who built his reputation as a defensive genius at Auburn and Texas. "But we've had some small victories on that side of the ball, too. We've been put in some bad positions with our backs to the wall, and we've kept teams from scoring or limited them to a field goal.

    "We need to get better on third-down stoppages, but I do like some of the things we're doing defensively."


    CFH HMagic bball season next year.
    Let my Fred's Four Horsemen ride: Georges, Hogue, Nader, and McKay.

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    Re: Curb the Mistakes

    Mistakes are the reason why we are 0-2, not because we are horrible and can't do anything.

    That doesn't mean we would have blown either of these teams out though, either.



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    Re: Curb the Mistakes

    true, true...we are NOT a bad team...we are also not a GREAT one yet, but if we correct the correctables, we could be a GOOD team. I know it all comes down to winning, but 0-2 is not the record of this team's effort and ability. Just gotta bring it all together Clones!


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    Re: Curb the Mistakes

    A very well written article. Simply has meaningful quotes in it.



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    Re: Curb the Mistakes

    Good article. I agree that there are some encouraging signs in the play of the team, despite the win/loss record. If they can make a couple more big plays a game, avoid the mistakes, and get their confidence going, they can surprise some teams here. I do think it's pretty critical that they have a good start against Iowa. If they can stay within a score at halftime, I do like their chances.



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    Re: Curb the Mistakes

    I too would like some third down stoppages, preferably on their side of the field.


    CFH HMagic bball season next year.
    Let my Fred's Four Horsemen ride: Georges, Hogue, Nader, and McKay.

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