Assessing the program's progress under Coach Rhoads

Discussion in 'Football' started by Trice, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. Trice

    Trice Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2010
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    #1 Trice, Nov 24, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012
    It's hard to believe it's already been four years under CPR, but here we are. That's enough time to consider the program truly "his" so I wanted to put some (hopefully well-reasoned) thoughts together and see what people think.

    To me the most notable thing is that our baseline level of play, or the minimum/worst effort we can expect to see any given Saturday, is gradually improving. We're better able to compete against everyone on our schedule. When Rhoads came we could count being blown out by at least one or two high-powered teams a year. A trip to Norman was a sure bloodbath. This year the final scores at OSU and Texas weren't close but we were far more competitive than we might have been in past years. The lows haven't been as low.

    Likewise, the highs have been incredibly high. We all know about the upsets but we've seen some really fantastic performances too. At Texas Tech last year and at TCU this year really stick out in my mind. Not huge upsets but really solid performances against good teams. We rarely (if ever) lose to teams we should beat.

    So in short it seems like we can credibly expect more from this program every time out and that is the ultimate testament to CPR and his staff.

    That doesn't mean there's nothing to criticize. After four years it's fair to ask what it's going to take to get us to the proverbial "next level" and how we intend to get there. Rhoads himself has said our goal needs to be .500 or better in conference, so to me it seems reasonable to think we can be a program that consistently wins 7-8 games each year, with 4-5 conference wins. Maybe a great year is +2 wins and a bad year is -2.

    To get there, our offense simply has to get better. Our defense has been compromised far too much and far too often by our offense. Until the Kansas game one of my real disappointments with the Rhoads era was the failure to improve the QB situation over the past two years. Sammy Football certainly looks like he may be a solution but time will tell. It doesn't reassure me that much that as solid as he's been in two games (though yesterday was a comedown from @ KU to be sure) Rhoads and staff never game him a real chance until now. Is QB evaluation a weakness of our staff?

    I didn't think Tom Herman lived up to his billing and I've been a little disappointed with Messingham as well. I can't describe the passion with which I hate watching us run poorly called or executed read options. There have been a few games where our offense looks great on opening drives and then falls apart. Maybe it's because we're not as good when we're not scripted. Or maybe it's because we're easy to figure out. But our offense has to get more dynamic; in the Big 12 we know we're going to face offenses that can score, and we have to be able to keep up. Our defense can't do it all every time out. Perhaps with a better QB they'll feel more comfortable with letting him make plays.

    Our defense hasn't been perfect either. Obviously the loss of Knott hurt and you can't paper over that. But the last few games our opponents have been able to get just about anything they wanted through the air with plenty of cushion from our DBs.

    My biggest concern with the defense is more long term. I think there's always been a sense that we have a great old salty dog in Wally Burnham who makes our defense better than it really is. So I worry about what happens when we lose him.

    What else do we need to do to continue toward that next step?
     
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  2. IsUaClone2

    IsUaClone2 Well-Known Member

    May 12, 2006
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    I must admit that losing Wally has been a concern for me as I began to appreciate his contribution more and more. I'd like to think that he is passing on the subtleties that make him successful and I hope that the other coaches and players are really paying attention.
     
  3. FilthyShadow

    FilthyShadow New Member

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    Todd Herman, OSU undefeated O-coordinator, that the one you disappointed in? Herman didn't have the athletes to succeed. As CPR is brings in better athletes, offense will improve.
     
  4. Trice

    Trice Well-Known Member

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    LOL. Are they keeping career records for coordinators now? Good to know.

    And you're not refuting my point. It's year four, if this were strictly about "better athletes" we'd have improved by now.
     
  5. swarthmoreCY

    swarthmoreCY Well-Known Member

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    #5 swarthmoreCY, Nov 24, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012
    If you need superior athletes than your competition and Meyer telling you what to do, you are very average.

    To the OP's point, we have the right man for the job. A few key and disappointing losses may have prevented us from building as fast as we would like, but we are building. For most BCS programs, there is cyclical nature to success. Given what he has done with previous staff's players and a lack of individual difference makers, CPR will have the baseline be high enough that when we have players like Wallace, we will be very successful. We are just starting to pick up momentum. A growing fanbase, increased revenue, and more exposure will all lead to more success under CPR.
     
  6. scyclonekid

    scyclonekid Well-Known Member

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    Got to protect home field in conference play, our offense needs to improve quite a bit, defense needs to get a little better, and we as fans need to keep selling out Jack Trice Stadium, special teams needs to keep getting better. I think Coach Rhoads has done a good job, but there is still work to do as there always will be, but I am happy with the direction of the program just need to work on key areas. Bowling 3 out of 4 years not bad. Recruiting needs to just keep going the rate it is as we are getting better.
     
  7. MLawrence

    MLawrence Well-Known Member

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    I think the OP had a pretty fair assessment. Rhoads is off to a pretty good start with 3 bowls in four years, however the downside of that is that all of the bowls are coming at the end of 6-6 seasons. While I do think that ISU is improving, there is going to be a point where 6-6 seasons are going to be a disappointment. Speaking of which another positive about Rhoads' tenure is that Jack Trice is filling up, because there has been at least 50,000 fans at JTS for the last two years. I hope that fans can continue that streak going into next year, and with Iowa and Texas on the schedule for next season that might be enough to break the season tickets record.
     
  8. scyclonekid

    scyclonekid Well-Known Member

    Feb 13, 2008
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    Agree, but we have got to start winning more games at home during conference play another two wins at home and this season is totally different.
     
  9. Hugs4ISU

    Hugs4ISU Guest

    On the other hand, one winning season out of four would get many coaches fired.

    One area that I am concerned about is recruiting. Something like 60% (very very roughly) of our recruits are still 2-star players. The "stars don't matter" people, just imagine how the Cincinnati game last night would have turned out if 60% of our MBB players were 2-star players. Now, I realize that it isn't realistic at this point to expect 5-star and 4-star recruits to be coming to ISU in football, but if 3-star players are the best we are going to get, then we need to make 3-star players the bulk of our commit lists.
     
  10. cyrocksmypants

    cyrocksmypants Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2008
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    I think the only loss Rhoads has that was definitively a game we should have won would be Colorado in 2010. We just flat out laid an egg there. Other than that, I think he's won the games we should win and got some big upsets in there too.

    As for offense, I like our passing game plan, when we actually pass. The running game drives me nuts, though. We need some just straight up running plays. Not every run has to be a read option. Plus, it's starting to get very predictable, kinda like Mac was. I remember in his last season I accurately predicted 100 percent of the plays if they'd be a run or pass. I'm getting closer and closer to being able to do that with Mess too. And if I can do it, you can bet your *** a defensive coordinator can.
     
  11. Cyclonepride

    Cyclonepride Thought Police
    Staff Member

    Nice assessment, OP. realizing that we were able to redshirt a good freshman class was huge for the future to me. I've been a fan for thirty plus years, and I think the program stands positioned as well as I've seen it. This schedule was also as tough as I've seen top to bottom.
     
  12. Trice

    Trice Well-Known Member

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    Schedule strength is a factor I failed to mention. Nine conference games played on a round-robin schedule is incredibly challenging. I have to remind myself sometimes that we will always be swimming upstream given that every year we will have one of the country's toughest schedules.
     
  13. Al_4_State

    Al_4_State Well-Known Member

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    I would argue that yesterday was a game we should have won, but otherwise agree.
     
  14. swarthmoreCY

    swarthmoreCY Well-Known Member

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    Hugs, you either need to get a new moniker or improve your game.
     
  15. cyrocksmypants

    cyrocksmypants Well-Known Member

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    That's why I threw in "definitively". I think you could also argue we should have beaten Tech and OSU at the time of those games, but many would be able to argue against that. No one would likely argue the Colorado loss.
     
  16. Hugs4ISU

    Hugs4ISU Guest

    I'd like to see us get away from the spread somewhat. Not calling for it to be abandoned completely, but if most teams use it, then most defences are ready for it.
     
  17. dualthreat

    dualthreat Well-Known Member

    Oct 8, 2008
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    Offensive line- needs to get better, i think it will get better with these recruits.

    Defense is schemed well.

    We are a star QB and a softer schedule away from winning 10+ games. Cant plan on the schedule lightening up, but we do have a solid core of guys right now. Rhoads just needs that one star plater to build a team around.
     
  18. swarthmoreCY

    swarthmoreCY Well-Known Member

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    The Oline has been the best part of the offense for 4 years, yet it is singled out to get better?
     
  19. Skidoosh

    Skidoosh Well-Known Member

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    I agree with everything, but I disagree when you suggest the QB evaluation is possibly a negative.

    Both Mess and CPR have stated that Sammy Sunshine hasn't shown this level of play in practice, or they would've put him in the season sooner. From what I understand, the only reason he was put in vs Kansas is because Jantz was tested for a concussion and the med staff had their doubts.

    Not to turn this into a QB thread.
     
  20. Cyclophile1

    Cyclophile1 Well-Known Member

    Dec 14, 2009
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    I'm in agreement with a lot of the OP's point and was thinking about this very topic last night while the rest of the house peacefully snoozed. Year Four basically brings an end to the "rebuilding" required from a transition and the program becomes the fully owned product of the current regime. You can make an argument that it's maybe Year Five or in some circumstances (where talent isn't a problem like Florida, Auburn or Ohio State) it's Year Three.

    I too have been thrilled with the height of the highs, like at Texas in 2010, at Texas Tech and of course Oklahoma State in 2011. The lows have been few really, like at Colorado, Utah and Oklahoma in 2010 and Missouri 2011. We've had some heartbreakers in there where you actually don't feel about your program despite the loss, like all the recent games against KSU and Nebraska in 2010.

    I'm very happy with the defensive play and dread each off-season now, fearing that Burnham will retire. The defense is the most sound we've been in a long, long time from a fundamentals standpoint. As with anyone, we could benefit from better recruiting at the DL and need to do a better job, surprisingly, at linebacker. I've been impressed by our ability to land high quality DBs and I think they're getting quality coaching despite a transition in year three. Clearly, we need more quality depth and I'm a little disappointed at the dropoff from our first teamers this year.

    The offense, frankly, has been a huge disappointment. From a recruiting and development standpoint, it's been very mixed. I think we have a solid, if not spectacular core on the OL with an NFL 2nd round pick and several good players as well. RB has been good overall but not great, but there is a very nice corps of skills there. The TE and WRs have been a ridiculous spectrum from excellent to borderline terrible, ranging from a Colin Franklin to some guys who were probably not BCS caliber athletes who got by on heart and grit. We've been deficient at QB going back to Meyer, and it spiraled out of control this season as we sought some spark, anything to get us bowl eligible. The coaching and teaching on offense has also been pretty suspect with our inability to pick up a middle blitz on the OL for 2 years+; our WRs have been wildly inconsistent catching the football, blocking and route running and then don't do things that most HS coaches drill into their players like coming back to the QB on a scramble or not giving up on a play/going for the ball. The QB spot - let's just say I'm glad the last few years are behind us.

    I'm happy with the punting as we have a gem in the 'Punt Doctor' in Kirby, however I think we've struggled at the kicker spot. Arceo overcame a rocky first half and really came on strong in the second half which gives me some hope for the future. We got a redshirt for Netten and have only two scholarahips tied up in the kicking game rather than three between him and Kirby. Overall, the coverage and return games have been all over the board but on the whole not great, but not too bad. We haven't had a game-changer return man but most teams don't.

    The schedule setup really well for a breakthrough year this year with a very good defense and a solid nucleus returning on offense. Then came the QB shuffle, as we sought answers our QB problems. In hindsight, we're probably fortunate the escape that disastrous conference stretch and remain bowl eligible. Good news in that I think we found a guy late who is more of a complete player in the core QB skills and we'll have him for three more years. It's early, but there is a lot of promise in what we saw those last couple of games. If Rohach can beat out Richardson in the next couple of years, we'll not only by good but perhaps very good.

    Getting better quality play in the passing game is what we need to get past 6-6, in my opinion. That means better QB and better receiver play. I like the core of young guys we have at the WR spot - they have the size but just need development and we need a legitimate deep threat to emerge. Brun has the potential to be very good as a senior in my opinion.

    Overall, I think the Defense gave us better than .500 play the majority of season despite being asked to do WAY more than is reasonable because of the inept offense. On the whole, we could stand to get more pressure on the QB and be a little more stout on the DL, but weren't bad overall. I think we saw deficiencies when both Watson and Givens were out of the lineup, and Knott was our best player in the last four years on either side of the ball. I'm actually pretty confident that Burnham will find a way to be adequate or better to our level of competition. My hope is that Messingham learned a lot in his first year, because despite some real bumps in the road (dealing with finding something that the offense could run successfully during the QB carousel), I think he did a pretty good job. Bleil needs to consult with a few colleagues on how to pick up the middle blitz and flooded zone because this is an ongoing problem. It obviously helps to have QB who knows and can see to throw to a vacated zone on this and we saw Richardson torch KU twice on that and WVU once, so it's not just an OL problem.

    Overall, it's a successful foundational Four years for a new regime, but we have an exciting opportunity in front of us. Several of our neighboring programs are suffering a bit of a downturn with Missouri and Iowa being down and it being unclear whether those are aberrant blips or signs of real down period. Nebraska I think is never going to return to their glory days. I think we're largely in a 'stay the course' situation, but some keys to moving forward are hold the home turf and avoiding the QB carousel. Going 1 and 4 at home is simply unacceptable and will hurt attendance and enthusiasm in time - we blew our chance at taking another step as program with a pretty decent schedule this year, but it shows how unforgiving this conference is. Avoiding the QB carousel is really a rock and a hard place scenario and why these guys get paid big bucks. Our QB play through the middle stretch was a difference between 6-6 and 8-4 I think, and it makes me wonder what Mess was looking at by not giving Richardson more of a chance earlier. It's easy to Monday Morning QB that, but Richardson certainly appeared to have some real ability and I think Rhoads may have injected himself in that process to get Sam in there. I think and really hope we're past these problems.

    Overall, I'm excited for the future and approach the bowl season and off-season with more optimism than under any coach in my 35+ years as a fan. The foundation has been laid. It will be fun and gut-wrenching in the future I'm sure. No matter what, I think Rhoads a great fit and we're doing our part as fans to help him take us farther.

    Cheers
     

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