AMES — If you expected more out of Iowa State’s offense in Saturday’s 31-17 loss to Iowa, you’re not alone. To a lesser degree, the same could have be said after a satisfying, but not gratifying week one victory over UNI.
So here’s a brutally candid take for you guys on a September Sunday morning: I’ve grown dog-tired of watching Iowa State’s inconsistent offense consistently underachieve.
Over the last two seasons, Iowa State has ended the season ranked 100t hand 101st nationally in total offense. With seven offensive starters returning and a fifth-year quarterback, this year was supposed to be different. No ramping up period. No new playbook. None of that.
In the second half on Saturday, Iowa State mustered up 66 yards on 31 plays. A walk-on (Trever Ryen) who was a wide receiver three weeks ago led the Cyclones in rushing.
Go ahead and point your fingers at the offensive line, Sam Richardson or whomever your heart desires. But at what point should offensive coordinator Mark Mangino be questioned?
With a 17-10 lead at halftime on Saturday, the Iowa Hawkeyes made a number of exotic defensive adjustments. To my amateur football eye, Iowa State did next to nothing to counter.
That first offensive series of the second half was as conservative as Ted Cruz.
Of course I’ll give credit where it’s due. In the second half, Iowa dominated Iowa State’s offensive line without one of the best defensive ends in the country, Drew Ott, who was injured in the first half.
But when it comes to the Cyclones, as of now, I don’t see this offense being any better than it was a year ago. In the second half on Saturday, it was actually worse.
Same story when it comes to depth
After watching him for only a game and a quarter, I’m pretty confident in writing that Demond Tucker is Iowa State’s best defensive lineman. When he exited the game with an ankle injury in the second quarter, the Cyclones were never the same again.
This isn’t an excuse for the loss. Iowa was the better team. It’s simply pointing out what we all already knew. This isn’t a deep Iowa State football team, specifically at defensive tackle.
With Tucker, that’s a pretty decent Iowa State defense. Iowa likely still would have won the game, but the gashing that occurred on the ground in the second half would have been kept in check.
Demond Tucker absolutely has to get healthy for Iowa State to win football games.
BEATHARD: Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard is the real deal. It makes a guy think long and hard about if a guy like Joel Lanning taking snaps for the Cyclones would give this offense the jolt of energy that it so desperately needs.
QUESTIONABLE CALLS: I won’t kill Paul Rhoads for punting on 4th and 1 with 8:42 to go in the second quarter. I would have loved to see him go for it there, but I totally understand his logic in not doing so. He shouldn’t have even been in the spot to begin with, as I have no idea how Allen Lazard’s first down spot was overturned.
Speaking of highly questionable coaching, what about Kirk Ferentz faking a field goal on 4th and 2 from the 22 with one second to go in the half? Huh?
GET HIM THE BALL: Allen Lazard was the best player on the field Saturday. Got a struggling quarterback? Give him a security blanket. This should be Lazard. He’s a huge target with preposterously sound hands. I’d love to see Iowa State do anything it can to get the sophomore even more involved next week at Toledo.
SPEAKING OF…: Iowa State’s next opponent, Toledo, was a three-touchdown underdog vs. Arkansas on Saturday. Rockets 16, No. 18 Arkansas, 12. Cause we all saw that one coming, right?
Here’s the silver lining: Toledo was going to be good next week regardless. I guess I’d rather the Rockets be coming off of the biggest win in program history (??) while they prepare for Iowa State, no? Plus, Paul Rhoads shouldn’t’ have any issues when it comes to getting his guys focused.
“That will get our kids’ attention,” Rhoads said. “We will be ready to play."