Monday Musings: Sept. 3, 2012 Edition

Labor Day…You’ve got to love it.

Chances are if you’re reading this, you have today off. Students don’t have class. Most businesses shut down shop on the first Monday of September. It’s an American tradition.  

For us sports writers though, it’s business as usual. In fact for me, this just might be a top two or three busiest weeks of the year.  

We’ve got our inaugural Iowa State Basketball Tip-Off Party coming up at the Keg Stand this Wednesday at 7. Special guests will be in attendance. That’s all I can really say about the event, other than you do not want to miss it. The shindig will begin at 7 p.m.

We’ve got the first Cyclone Fanatic Call-In Show of the season on 1460 KXNO coming up on Thursday night from 7-8 at Kippy’s Place in Elkhart. Rumor has it, one Jon Miller from is going to join me. Little does Miller know, I’m going to lock him inside of a steel cage with Tron Smith to see who comes out alive.

And then there’s the weekend. Yeah – I haven’t even mentioned that it is Iowa State – Iowa week. Brent Blum and I will head east at around 5 p.m. on Friday for what should be one of the most evenly matched Cy-Hawk games in recent history.

It’s a busy week and as much as I hate the Cy-Hawk bickering, it’s a fun week.

Let’s get it started with some musings on Iowa State football…

On Iowa State Football…

I re-watched Iowa State’s 38-23 win over Tulsa on Sunday evening. Here are a few thoughts…

*** I tried to pay extra close attention to Iowa State’s offensive line while watching the tape back on my 75-inch HD projector screen (yeah I’m boasting just a little bit here). I’m no offensive line guru by any means but I can only imagine that Tom Farniok and Carter Bykowski both graded out very well in week one. Bykowski was the guy who especially caught my eye.

Having said that, the guards did struggle picking up Tulsa’s blitz on more than one occasion. Bill Bleil will have plenty of tape to show the guys in preparation of the looming road trip to Iowa City.

*** Last year I got to conduct one of my favorite interviews of all-time. It was a 1-on-2. I went head-to-head-to-head with Leonard Johnson and Ter’Ran Benton at the same time. The recorder was on the table and I was firing off questions. The boys were feeding off of each other with answers. I loved interviewing those guys. They didn’t take things to seriously but gave your real answers at the same time. But the point here is that during that interview, they both told me that Iowa State’s secondary would be “just fine” once they were gone. These two had the upmost confidence in the youngsters in Iowa State’s secondary.

Watching Durrell Givens, Deon Broomfield, Jansen Watson, Jeremy Reeves and Sam Richardson on Saturday showed my why they felt that way.

I knew going into the season that Givens was a physical man but he showed me a different level when I watched the tape back.

One tiny thing I saw that I absolutely loved was the number of times that Iowa State’s defensive backs attempted to strip the football out of the hands of their opponent. It’s early on but this appears to be an opportunistic bunch.

*** Football coaches don’t always try to pull fast ones on the media. Paul Rhoads proved this twice in the last week.

For one, all of that talk about potentially redshirting kicker Cole Netten. I won’t lie. I didn’t believe the coach when he brought this up during camp. That’s why hacks like me shouldn’t question head coaches who are watching these guys on a daily basis during practice. Rhoads wasn’t kidding around and by all means, he appears to have made the right call.

The second example comes from last Monday’s pre-Tulsa press conference. Rhoads raved about Tulsa’s H-Back Willie Carter. Rhoads told us that stopping Carter would be a major part of Iowa State’s defensive game plan. Carter only caught one pass in the game. He wasn’t ever a factor.

Not bad coach.

A few more thoughts on the game tape…

*** There was a 3rd and 19 situation late in the first half. Courtney Messingham didn’t get conservative. It would have been really easy to call some sort of a draw but he went for the first down and damn near got it too. Iowa State had to punt but the fact that Iowa State’s new offensive coordinator didn’t want to sit on it spoke volumes to me.

*** More on Messingham…Late in the fourth quarter, Steele Jantz was being blitzed on third down. He dumped the ball off to Ricky Howard for the safe, easy play that didn’t get the first down.

As Jantz ran off the field, the smile on Messingham’s face was as big as mine at a NASCAR race. On more than one occasion, Steele let the game come to him. That wasn’t the case a year ago.

*** It sure is good to have “Zack” Klein on Iowa State’s defense.

1)   How can a professional play-by-play butcher the name of the Big 12’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year time after time like that?

2)   How did the “guy in his ear” not help him out? Unbelievable.

*** Did anybody else catch the color commentator say, “These players are firmly entrenched in this program,” referring to Iowa State? I laughed out loud. If that guy only had a clue…

That’s all I’ve got for now. Check out CF later today for coverage of Paul Rhoads’ weekly press conference and a lot more.