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Football

MONDAY MUSINGS: I’ll tap the brakes before burying this offense

AMES — Iowa State’s 17-7 loss to Texas on Thursday night wasn’t what anybody was expecting. From the out-of-nowhere unveiling of a secondary logo (which was impressive considering its 2017 and there are no secrets anymore) to an uncharacteristic defensive struggle in the Big 12, the night was interesting to state the obvious.

After hosting Iowa State’s postgame call-in show, my radio show Friday on 1460 KXnO and hanging with you guys on CF and Twitter over the weekend, the fan reaction from Thursday has been awfully intense.

I just feel like being more positive today. That cool?

Thursday night wasn’t all bad though. The defense was fantastic, which I will point out later in this piece.

I want to start though with a guy who has taken an incredible amount of heat following the loss: Offensive coordinator Tom Manning.

Was that his best day of work at Iowa State? Absolutely not. I am sure that Iowa State has questioned its plan of attack following the loss. But Manning didn’t forget how to coach overnight.

Iowa State’s second-year offensive coordinator (and offensive line coach) was a MAJOR bright spot during Matt Campbell’s debut season – perhaps the brightest. Led by Manning, Iowa State’s offensive line was an absolute joke during the first two weeks of last season and was very adequate by the time the calendar turned to November.

In 2016, Manning was up against the following:

Installing a new offense with new terminology to a new team. Classic first-year issues that every staff has.

A very inexperienced unit across the board.

Little to no depth on the offensive line. Not to mention, losing a starting tackle Jake Campos in fall camp.

A quarterback change halfway through the year.

The fact that he was a first-time offensive coordinator and had never called plays before.

Yet within the Iowa State record books, the Cyclones finished the 2016 season ranked third in points per play, fourth in points scored and eighth in points per game.

It is absolutely fair to be critical of Thursday night’s performance, but I’m still a fan of Tom Manning and am excited to see how this group grows from now until the end of the season.

It is also worth pointing out that 10 days before against USC, that same Texas defense held the Trojans – who are averaging 173 yards per game on the ground – to 73 rushing yards on 37 attempts.

I think that at the end of the year, this Texas front-seven will be thought of as one of the best in the country. We’ll see.

The defense has out-performed our expectations

Iowa State’s three leading tacklers on Thursday were linebackers.

That tells me that for the first time in a long time, the defensive line is doing its job.

Don’t get me wrong: Iowa State isn’t going to win too many Big 12 football games with its defense, but seeing the Cyclones hold their own up front is a breath of fresh air.

I am very optimistic about this group. Kamilo Tongamoa and Matt Leo have barely played. The linebackers are young, hungry and getting better every week.

There is a lot to be excited about on this side of the football and it all starts up front.

Decision day for hoops target

In case you’ve missed it, one of Iowa State’s top targets for the 2018 basketball recruiting class, George Conditt, will make his college decision at 4 p.m. today.

Conditt, a 6-foot-10, 200-pound power forward out of Chicago, is primarily deciding between Iowa State, Illinois and New Mexico.

My guess is that it is between Iowa State and Illinois as New Mexico didn’t get “in” on him until late in the process.

I am an Iowa State lean here although it is still a mystery to everyone as to what exactly will go down.

Stay tuned to CF this afternoon and tonight. We will have you covered.