Sep 24, 2016; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones defensive back Brian Peavy (10) intercepts a pass in front of San Jose State Spartans wide receiver Tre Hartley (13) at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
AMES, Iowa. — Iowa State defensive coordinator Jon Heacock has made it known since the day he arrived in Ames that the Cyclones needed to get better at creating turnovers. The Cyclones drilled it daily during fall camp, but saw few results during the first three games of the season.
The Cyclones continued to work on it in practice. Heacock told the media they’d come in bunches once they happened — but nobody saw the Cyclones’ output against San Jose State on Saturday coming.
The Cyclones intercepted four passes, the most since ISU played South Dakota State on Aug. 28, 2008, in helping lead the Cyclones to a 44-10 win over San Jose State at Jack Trice Stadium. It took four different players, or five depending on how you look at it, to create the those highly-sought takeaways.
“Turnovers are so critical to your success,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said after the game. “When you have turnovers, it’s so detrimental who you are offensively. It was unfortunate that we did have one today, but I think it was huge to watch our defense step up and really create some of those. I think that was certainly a momentum changer within the football game and some really critical times those came into play.”
This was the first time the Cyclones finished a game positive in turnover margin since the win over Texas last season. That’s an eight game span, or 328 days since Halloween Night 2015, but who’s counting.
The anatomy of the interceptions started up front for Iowa State, who sacked the quarterback a season-high four times. For the first time this season, the Cyclones were able to create pressure without bringing extra guys on blitzes.
The secondary was able to sit back in zone and wait for their opportunities.
“The quarterback’s got to get rid of it fast or he’s going to get sacked,” junior safety Kamari Cotton-Moya, who contributed one of those interceptions, said. “If we can cause turnovers like that or cause the quarterback to get sacked, it’s much easier for us in the back end and better for the offense to put more points on the scoreboard.”
The Cyclones had a 30-10 lead at the time, but Cotton-Moya’s interception was likely the best of the bunch.
Spartans quarterback Josh Love looked deep, but cornerback Nigel Tribune made a nice play to tip the ball. Cotton-Moya, who tied for the team lead with 11 tackles, was there with a diving effort to finish off the takeaway.
“I was running to the ball and I saw it,” Cotton-Moya said. “That’s something we try to do every week, but we really haven’t been doing a great job with it.”
All of a sudden, the Cyclones are just minus-one in turnover margin for the season. Like Heacock said, turnovers come in bunches.
Like Christmas Morning
The Twittersphere shook before the game even started when Iowa State unveiled their slick new gray alternate uniforms. Campbell had made it known during the offseason that the program was likely to switch up their uniform options, but the team’s white helmets were the only ones that had been made public.
Coming into Saturday, the coaching staff hadn’t told the players of their intention to wear the new threads, dubbed the “Storm” alternates, — or even that they existed.
“We walked in and we were just freaking out,” junior wide receiver Trever Ryen said. “It was like Christmas morning.”
Campbell doesn’t usually like to take credit for things, but he made an exception in this case.
“If I’m going to take any credit today, I’m going to take credit for those uniforms,” Campbell said. “We had those hidden for a while and I thought it was a good time to bring them out. Really, those are sharp.”
It sounds as though the new set is meant to be used in addition to the cardinal, gold and white options already available rather than just a one time deal. That brings up the question of whether or not we’ll see them again this season.
“I think you may see them,” Campbell said. “I’m a big believer of when you do it right, stay in it, so we’ll see.”
Ryen Making Punt Returns Fun Again
Ryen knew there could be some openings for big returns against San Jose State punter Michael Carrizosa.
The junior wide receiver, who could, maybe, be more accurately described as the Cyclones’ Swiss Army Knife, heard from special teams coach Bryan Gasser that Carrizosa had a big leg. That became clear once Ryen looked at his stats.
“Watched a little bit on him and I called him the NFL kind of punter,” Ryen said. “He just booms it and it’s high up and long. I saw on his hit chart seven 50-yarders, almost 60 yard punts, I was like, ‘Man, this gives us a chance to return.’”
Ryen, who returned three punts for 116 yards, made his longest play of the day on a 55-yard return as time expired on the first half. He was one block short of taking it all the way to the end zone.
“I was a little bit surprised,” Ryen said. “I thought they’d just try to punt it inside the 10 or not have a chance for me to return, but when he punted it, I was like, ‘Okay, here we go.’”
They Said It
*** Matt Campbell on true freshman wide receiver Deshaunte Jones (Three catches, 78 yards and two touchdowns).
“This stage isn’t too big for Deshaunte,” Campbell said. “Deshaunte played in the biggest division in the state of Ohio in some pretty big football games and he was the quarterback. So, again, I think what I appreciate about him is you just can see him really starting to adapt to wide receiver and feeling comfortable. Really gaining confidence as a young player should in our offense and in our system. So it’s really fun for him. He’s a great young man . He’s a guy that’s got great leadership ability and unique traits. I think you’ll just continue to see him get better.”
*** Campbell on Cotton-Moya.
“We have a saying around here,” Campbell said. “A players have to get A’s. If we’re going to have success, A players must get A’s. We have, as coaches, our job is to lead our A players to get A’s. I think again, you look at some of our A players today, I think you saw those guys earn A’s. It gave us a chance to (win). It was great for Kamari.”
*** Cotton-Moya on having pride as a defense.
“We really try to have a lot of pride putting these jerseys on,” Cotton-Moya said. “Putting Iowa State stuff on, becuase it’s more than us and not really for just us. People wore these jerseys before us. People played here before us. We have a lot of fans, like someone said, we went down to TCU, they’ve been winning, and they had nobody in their stands. We had so many people in our stands no matter what the outcome is of any game. It’s a great environment and we owe it to them.”