By Ian Smith, CycloneFanatic.com Contributor
AMES – The holiday weekend will not be relaxing for the Iowa State football team. Not after barely surviving against Northern Iowa.
The Cyclones pulled out a 20-19 victory at Jack Trice but the film will be ugly Sunday morning.
For starters, the Panthers mauled the Iowa State offensive line. Thankfully for the Cyclones, Steele Jantz is a capable runner and can escape from pressure most times, or at least he could against Northern Iowa.
“We have improvement to make at every turn,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said.
The Panthers sacked Jantz once and pressured him more than a handful of times. Those numbers should have been worse. The heat also helped force Jantz into throwing three interceptions.
“We struggled with their movement, which we knew they were going to do,” Rhoads said. “For the offense to be successful, we had to get the second level and we had to block the movement. I don’t think from the sideline we did either very well.”
The offensive line will need to come a long way before the Iowa Hawkeyes come to Ames next Saturday.
KNOTT, SECONDARY BRING IT
Jake Knott is a tackling machine. The junior picked up right where he left off after leading the team with 130 tackles last season.
On Saturday night, Knott recorded 15 stops, including 2.5 for a loss.
The linebacker wasn’t the only defender who played well against the Panthers. Give the entire secondary – especially Jacques Washington – credit too. The Iowa State defense allowed Northern Iowa quarterback Tirrell Rennie to complete just 15-of-32 passes for 181 yards.
The Cyclones held the Panthers to 8-of-17 on third down.
“We played well,” said Washington, who finished with 11 tackles. “We gave up some big plays, but as far as third down goes, we played well.”
HOW’S THE VIEW?
Jack Trice Stadium is officially big time.
Need proof? Please look to the north end zone. There sits Iowa State’s new JumboTron. The Cyclones newest toy definitely added to the atmosphere inside the Jack.
“As we knew going in, (the scoreboard) did nothing but improve the environment at Jack Trice,” Rhoads said. “The crowd obviously felt the same way.”
– Zach Guyer handled the PAT and field goal duties Saturday night against the Panthers. The senior went 2-for-2 on extra points. Rhoads said after the game that Guyer’s “the guy,” but also gave kudos to Grant Mahoney for his kickoffs.
– The official attendance for Saturday’s game was 54,672. It was the fourth largest crowd in Jack Trice Stadium history, and the highest attended home opener ever for Iowa State.
– Darius Darks, Cleyon Laing and Hayworth Hicks all didn’t play against Northern Iowa on Saturday after violating team rules. Rhoads said all three should be back for next week’s game against Iowa.
– Shontrelle Johnson left the game midway through the second quarter when he was hit hard by a pair of Panthers. The sophomore lost a fumble on the play deep in Northern Iowa territory. Fortunately Johnson returned after halftime and finished the game with no problems. He finished with 27 yards on 9 carries.
– Rhoads said Roosevelt Maggitt suffered a serious knee injury during Saturday’s game. He status will continue to be evaluated.