Wednesday, January 01, 2020

A record setting night at Hilton

Iowa State's come-from-ahead loss to Florida A&M was a memorable night at Hilton, as it was probably the worst Iowa State basketball loss since 1950, and probably ever. That's weirdly impressive.

My dive into the Massey ratings archives brought back memories of some awful losses, but provided the data to put this loss in perspective. Florida A&M was ranked #315 before the game, a 26 point underdog. The next worst losses I could find from the road was the 1998 loss at Drake (#298), 2004 loss in Waco (#225), and a 1983 loss at Jacksonville (#220).

But a 2017 home loss to Milwaukee (#203) and a 2009 loss to South Dakota State (#231) put the magnitude of this loss in focus: it was an epically bad loss, considering they started he second half up by 12. 6:38 later the game was tied, and the Rattlers played like they were the better team. 

Sitting your talented point guard for a night shouldn't bring the offense to a stop. This is certainly a transition year, but we are far enough into the season that there has to be a Plan B.

Thumped both physically and mentally

Notre Dame exposed our Cyclones deficiencies in the same ways that Iowa, Baylor and Kansas State did: a lack of ability on the lines, and an inability to make the important plays on offense.

The progression of growing a better offensive line is easy to understand, but in Year Four they may be considered behind schedule compared to the turnarounds at other programs.

The failure on important plays and inability to score TDs after crossing the 50 has become A Problem for the offense, and must be fixed quickly or this staff will not reach their goals for the program. ISU scored zero touchdowns on six trips across the 50, while ND was only 2/7 (not including the 86 yard TD run). Score TDs rather than kick field goals and the game is interesting, rather than an emotional rout.

But complaining about a bad bowl performance beats complaining about a 3-9 team. Progress of sorts, but changes need to be made while the bottom half of the league is still in flux. Seize the moment.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Progress Isn't Linear

The hangover from pre-season Kool-Aid can be harsh when your team doesn't live up to pre-season expectations.

Winning close games is more random than anyone wants to admit.

The hard part is being good enough to give yourself a chance against the teams with better talent. By that metric, mission accomplished.

A disappointing 7-5 year is still more fun than any 3-9 year.

Monday, November 18, 2019


About 24 minutes into this postgame analysis, these two Texas fans state what the rest of the Big12 has thought for a long time:

Every other program seems to develop their talent, while Texas stays static.

In other words, "Nobody does less with more than Texas". (Note to self: That would make a great shirt in all the rival colors.)

Let's compare stats from 2018's 24-10 ISU loss in Austin with this year's 23-21 ISU win in Ames:

Last year, UT was plus 117 yards rushing and 2.1 yards per play over the Cyclones.
This year, ISU was plus 60 rushing and 0.4 YPP, for change of 177 yards on the ground and 2.5 YPP. That's gigantic.

Texas has 46 4 or 5 star athletes on their roster. Iowa State has 4. Yes, 4.

The numbers speak for themselves.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Going For It

For being a conservative guy wanting to play a conservative style, we are watching Coach Campbell grow more aggressive when the moment calls for it. The aggressiveness is calculated, playing the percentages, rather than reckless, and it may pay dividends down the line. As opposing coaches learn that Iowa State is going to press for extra, they will take risks to counter, to add to the lead, and hopefully make mistakes that can be swung in the Cyclones favor.

It is an attitude the football program hasn't had in my memory. It is a pleasant change.

Three winnable games left on the slate, three games that will determine how fans view the season as a whole.

Seize the moment, and go for it.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Run Game

Twitter tells us that Saturday's game in Morgantown was one of Brock Purdy's worst (19-30-1, 1 TD, 6 rushes for -15, 3 sacks) so to see the running game emerge to fill the gap was encouraging. 34 carries for 167 yards was a solid 4.9 YPC, kept the chains moving and got into the end zone when the opportunity arrived. More of that, please.

The second-half stifling of the West Virginia offense was a thing of beauty, backup QB or not. The drive chart for WV in the back half: punt, punt, punt, punt, INT, Fumble. 21 plays for 44 yards. That'll do boys, that'll do.

Our Cyclones can win a lot of football games that way. Forward.

Sunday, October 06, 2019


Given the offensive struggles the Cyclones had against the two solid defenses they played earlier in the year (Iowa and Baylor), to witness the offensive competency that broke out against TCU was stunning. Six touchdowns on nine possessions in TCU territory is getting it done, and couldn't have come at a better time with more winnable games this month.

The offensive performance was even more surprising after how disruptive the TCU defense had been for ISU recently. The last six games- five losses for ISU- have all been tough sledding for the offense, and one has to go back to the 2012 win in Fort Worth to find another day where the offense did what it wanted against the Horned Frogs.

While having your QB be your leading rusher isn't a good long-term plan, it appears that running threat is what opens up the offense as a whole. So be it.

Onward to Morgantown.

Sunday, September 29, 2019


Cyclone football is 7-8 in the last 2.25 seasons in games that ended with a margin of 7 points or less. They win their share of the close ones.

Clearly this offense is going to struggle against decent defenses. When the other team can make you one dimensional, your margin for error goes way down.

ISU had plenty of opportunities to score what would have been the winning points- but they found a way to screw up, which cost them in the end. Slap on the back for taking the lead after a furious comeback. But the offense only got three TDs on eight trips into Baylor territory. That ain't gonna cut it.

The Cyclones could be the underdog in seven of the last 8. Buckle up.