AMES —Taking that next step as a program…
For the last week, that’s been the hot topic of conversation on our forums here at Cyclone Fanatic.
Will the Cyclones finally get over that three win hump in the Big 12 Conference? Is a seven, eight or even nine win season possibly in store for Paul Rhoads’ fourth season at Iowa State?
A lot can still happen. Iowa State is sitting at 3-1 while exiting the month of September. But after Saturday night’s 24-13 stinker against Texas Tech and a nasty schedule featuring six top 25 teams in the next six weeks in front of them, the Cyclones appear to be facing a bit of an up hill battle when it comes to taking that “next step” in 2012.
The defense did its job. Holding any Big 12 offense not-named Kansas to 24 points is an impressive feat.
But Iowa State’s offense was lifeless and it all started up front. To say that Steele Jantz ran for his life would actually be an understatement. Even on the rare occasion when Jantz had some time, he made mistakes and turned the football over. Wide receivers had trouble getting open. The play calling was head scratching at times.
Iowa State gained a measly 189 yards of total offense and turned the football over four times. It was a bad offensive performance by everyone involved.
“Unsettled is how I would describe that side of the ball for most of the game,” said Rhoads on the Cyclone Radio Network after the game. “We did not control the line of scrimmage very well pass and run. When you don’t do that, it’ shard to establish yourself.”
Many already are and will continue to point the finger in the direction of Jantz and those people very well might be correct. The quarterback is the most important position on the field and Jantz has proven time and time again that ball security isn’t exactly a strength of his.
But this is an offensive problem as a whole – not a one-man issue. It just can’t go on one guy because there wasn’t a single positive to come out of that game from an offensive standpoint if you’re Iowa State. It wasn’t as if one area of the offense was being bogged down by another. Nothing worked.
Some good news did come out of Saturday and that is that Iowa State’s defense is without a doubt one of the best in the entire Big 12 Conference. After watching the Cyclone defensive line heavily pressure Seth Doege during the first half, this group is even better than I thought it was heading into the game.
“A bunch of gritty competitors,” said Rhoads. “Flew all over the field. Very pleased with how those kids played tonight.”
The defense was so good that it was able to give an offense that was 0-for-6 on 3rd down conversions in the first half, turned the football over four times and lacked the ability to pretty much do anything at all a chance to win the game late in the fourth quarter.
But even the most fuel-efficient vehicles in the world run out of gas eventually.
The silver lining…
Paul Rhoads’ clubs have been in similar situations before.
Take 2010 for instance. After being absolutely throttled 52-0 in Norman, the Cyclones came back and shocked the Texas Longhorns on the road the very next week.
I remember hosting Cyclone Reaction with Jack Whitver after last year’s devastating loss at Missouri. A bowl game seemed like a pipe dream at that point in time…
New Years was a blast in New York wasn’t it?
This might read kind of crazy but based off of Rhoads’ track record, I’d seriously hate to be TCU next week.
On the quarterback situation
I’ve got mixed emotions on this one. Of course Steele Jantz needs to quit turning the football over. But at the same time, we all saw what Tech did to Iowa State in the trenches. That cannot be denied.
One of Jantz’s interceptions was some sort of an odd mis-communication with Josh Lenz. I’m still not sure whom to blame for that one. Another was a pass that Ernst Brun should or shouldn’t have come down with. The only thing you can blame Jantz for on it was throwing into double coverage, even though the toss was right on the money. His interception at the end of the game was irrelevant. And the fumble…Oh that fumble was ugly.
Listen, I’m not making excuses for the guy. Iowa State or any other football team in the country simply won’t win games against good teams with its quarterback turning the football over at this rate.
Was Saturday night’s loss Steele Jantz’s fault? Partly but as I’ve already aluded to, Saturday night’s issue was much larger than one man.
Is it time to open this quarterback competition back up again to see who the best man for the job is at this point in time? Yeah, probably so. Jantz won the job coming out of camp for a reason. He was the better guy. Is that still the case? Rhoads and his still are going to put the best guy on the field for the team.
Let’s just see what happens.