Football

STANZ: Cyclones lose another close one to Texas Tech in 2022 home finale

Nov. 19, 2022; Ames, Iowa, USA; [CAPTION] Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Hunter Dekkers (12) gets tackle by Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive line Tony Bradford Jr. (97)during the third quarter in the senior day Big-12 showdown at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune-USA TODAY Network

AMES — Iowa State had the football at the Texas Tech two-yard line and needed one yard to make it first and goal with less than 10 minutes left in the third quarter on Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.

The Cyclones trailed 7-3 when Hunter Dekkers took the under-center snap and handed it off to Eli Sanders for a run up the middle.

No gain.

Dekkers lined up under-center and handed it off to Sanders again.

No gain.

Dekkers lined up under-center and handed it off to Sanders again.

Loss of three yards.

Texas Tech football.

A mere 12 plays later, Iowa State was back in nearly the same exact position.

The ball had never even left Texas Tech’s end of the field after the Cyclones turned it over on downs and forced a quick three-and-out.

Dekkers handed the ball off to Sanders on third and goal from the Red Raiders’ two-yard line with Iowa State still trailing 10-7.

No gain.

Dekkers dropped back to pass on fourth and goal from the Texas Tech two.

He was sacked.

Texas Tech’s football again.

Iowa State eventually took the lead on a 24-yard catch, run and hurdle by tight end Easton Dean early in the fourth quarter.

The lead lasted five minutes of game time before the Red Raiders took control on a 12-yard pass from Tyler Shough to Baylor Cupp with 6:10 left in the game.

Texas Tech 14, Iowa State 10.

It was another one of those nights.

It’s been one of those years.

“I thought they were good play calls, but, really, man, there was a lack of execution and why that happened, I don’t know,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said of the shortfalls near the end zone. “Obviously, those were huge plays in the football game.”

Iowa State did more than enough to win this football game.

Shoot, Iowa State did more than enough to win this game going away.

The Cyclones had 422 yards of total offense. Texas Tech had 246.

Iowa State did not have a turnover. Texas Tech had one, a fumble that was forced by Beau Freyler then picked up and returned for a solid gain by true freshman linebacker Will McLaughlin on the game’s opening drive.

The Cyclones did not score any points on that possession despite starting at the Texas Tech 16-yard line. They gained only three yards before Drake Nettles’ field goal went wide left.

As I said, it was one of those nights.

“At times, offensively, it’s been the story of the season,” Campbell said. “That’s the hard part because you see so much growth, you see so many positive things, and you can spin it however you want to, but it’s inconsistency. It’s the inability to be consistent and finish those drives. That’s been really tough.”

In the process of losing this game, Iowa State became only the third team in college football since 2000 to gain 420 yards or more of total offense, hold a team to 250 yards or fewer of total offense and score only 10 points.

The other two teams, East Carolina and San Jose State, both during the 2014 season, lost each of their games by two scores.

Iowa State had the lead halfway through the fourth quarter.

Before this night, no team in college football in the last 22 years had posted 420 yards of total offense, held a team below 250 yards and scored only 10 points while also turning the ball over zero times.

If you ever find yourself wondering why Iowa State fans are so gosh darn fired up right now, this is why.

This team isn’t just losing games. The folks around here have been there, done that. Iowa State fans probably wouldn’t be quite so fired up if it was clear their team wasn’t close.

But, that’s the problem.

They’re so close. Close enough to allow the mind to wander. Close enough to generate hope. But, they’re not close enough to go the distance.

Iowa State is the kid who is saving up to buy his first video game console. He’s been saving his money obsessively for months in order to have the $399 he needs to buy his Xbox Series S from Best Buy. The only problem is he forgot about tax, and now he’s standing at the register a few dollars short.

Iowa State has saved its money and has the talent to be a good team. It just comes up a few dollars short every week.

“You’re an offense that drives up and down the field,” Campbell said. “Then you get into some of those (close) moments, and you’ve picked up a lot of those throughout the game today, the inability to do it there in that moment is, man, it’s critical. It’s what costs you the football game, or at least a huge piece of the football game.”

What must happen now?

We’re too deep into this, and the season is too far gone, for us to consider how all of Iowa State’s problems will be solved in the next six days before the Cyclones take on No. 4 TCU in Fort Worth in the regular season finale.

Next Saturday should be about going out with some pride. I believe Iowa State will do that.

Something has to change for this program to reach its next stage though.

Iowa State’s defensive culture is at an all-time high. That unit has never been more cohesive and productive than it is right now.

Unfortunately, Iowa State’s offense has been the exact opposite.

The offensive line has only consistently been inconsistent. One moment they’ll be driving opponents off the ball. The next opposing defensive lines will look like Pittsburgh Steel Curtain from the 1970s.

We’ve all seen the flashes of brilliance from Dekkers, but we’ve also seen the questionable decision-making and failing mechanics in the moments when his best is needed.

Iowa State’s offense has been so insanely close for most of this season, but it hasn’t been close enough to feel like doing nothing on that side of the ball in the offseason can be justified.

Iowa State absolutely cannot stand pat this winter. There needs to be an urgency to find whatever will bring the offense even close to the level being produced by the Iowa State defense.

We were told only bullshit programs celebrate winning six games.

That mantra is easy to sell when you’re already winning, but we’re about to find out if Campbell is ready to stand by those words when the chips are down for his program.

I have a feeling there’d be a lot of people celebrating six wins around here this year.

The Cyclones just keep coming up short.

Jared Stansbury

administrator

Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.

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