AMES — Iowa State had highs and lows in its 31-17 loss to Iowa on Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones showed the playmaking ability of their offense by putting up 17 points in the first half, but also showed their flaws in being shut out in the second.
The defense was pretty good at times, but there’s no question they still have a lot of things to fix.
Without much further ado, here are my five takeaways from the loss:
1. Demond Tucker getting hurt… Really hurts.
By no means did Demond Tucker’s injury decide the game, but it definitely played a huge roll in swinging the momentum Iowa’s way. He had been dominant before leaving the game halfway through the second quarter with a sprained ankle.
The Hawkeyes drove down to score and tie the game at 10 on that drive. All of a sudden, the Iowa offense that had struggled early, came to life.
The Cyclones weren’t getting the same push they had early and Iowa’s running game was benefiting from it. When it was all said and done, the Hawkeyes had run for 260 yards on 45 attempts.
Up to that point, Iowa had only run for 80 yards, with 44 coming on one play by C.J. Beathard. They ran for 154 yards in the second quarter.
Tucker going down didn’t decide the game, but it played a big roll in changing it.
2. Receivers need to be better at getting open.
The Iowa State passing attack was humming in the first half. Sam Richardson was 12-15 for 186 yards and 2 TD’s.
The receivers were getting open and they were making plays. When the second half started, they became nonexistent.
ISU was 7-20 for 61 yards in the second half. Richardson was sacked once, and felt heavy pressure many other times.
Even when Richardson had time, there was nobody open.
Give a lot of credit to Iowa, they made the adjustments necessary to win the game, but these receivers need to be better at getting open if they want to live up to the expectations put on them in the offseason.
3. The ISU offense needs to be better on first and second down.
As Iowa State continues to struggle in putting together a running game, they need to figure out a way to get more yards on first and second down.
It’s really tough to move the ball when you’re consistently put into third and long situations, allowing the defense to pin their ears back and rush the passer like crazy.
Hopefully the rushing attack will get something figured out, but they need to find a solution, and soon.
4. The defense still showed positive flashes.
Despite allowing 475 yards of total offense, there were moments when you could see how good this ISU defense can be. There is no questioning their ability to swarm to the football.
I was also pleasantly surprised, most of the time, by ISU’s open field tackling. They have gotten much better at keeping guys in front of them and making the play.
Early in the game, the defense was dominant. But the question is, can they sustain it for four quarters?
5. There’s still 10 games left and the season isn’t over.
The loss to the hated in-state rival always stings, but there were still quite a few positives to build on.
The defense was more than solid at times.
The offense showed they can be explosive in putting up 17 points in the first half, and they still have all those playmakers people were raving about during the offseason.
Obviously, there are quite a few things that need to be fixed, including the rushing attack, and some of the other things mentioned above.
There is still a lot of time for this ISU team to reach their potential. It’s not time to hit the panic button.
It’s time to get ready for a trip to Toledo.