Thursday, December 06, 2018


The CSJ staff were impressed with the Drake staff and players Saturday. Playing in the worst field conditions we can recall, Drake developed a solid offensive plan after the second possession, and used it to put themselves in a spot to win the game. When players can't cut or really push off, whatever speed and strength advantage a team has disappears. Drake took advantage.

Our Cyclones, however, appeared to use the same game plan they had run the week before, assuming they could manage despite not being able to cut.  Not so much.

Changes were made in the fourth to avoid what would have arguably been the biggest upset in college football history, and at the end of the day a win is a win.  The Russian judge still hated it.

Either the staff didn't adjust their game plan to fit conditions, or they did adjust and little of it worked. I'm not sure which was more worrisome.

Perhaps they Cyclones effort and focus would have been higher if that had been a conference game. We know that the next time ISU is asked to play in the slop we will be holding our collective breaths.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018


Fourteen years of random thoughts about Cyclone sports. I'm afraid to count how many coaches I have mentioned.

Thanks for reading- it's hopefully worth what you have paid for it.

Sunday, November 25, 2018


There was only one proper way to end a losing streak against an opponent that was full of missteps, errors and anguish: by delivering some anguish of your own.

Any Cyclone fan watching that game assumed it was over down 17 with 12:30 left in the 4th. The computers put KSU's win percentage at 98%, which might have been too low.

And yet- they found a way to win, as unlikely as that win was. The crew in purple got the long, slow trip home to ponder what if, and what's next.

Progress isn't linear, but I like the trend.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Playoff Hockey

It's hard to explain the difference between regular-season hockey and playoff hockey, but you know it when you see it. It is something you can't prepare for; you have to experience it first hand.

The Cyclones got that first-hand experience Saturday night in Austin. A talented team playing for a Championship berth took the heads off another team that wasn't ready for the moment.

I suspect the next time this team has a similar opportunity the outcome will be different. It may not result in a victory, but the game won't be over in the first 10 minutes.

Saturday's game against will teach us a lot about the mental progress of the program. Here's hoping they exorcise the K-State ghost from their system.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Uncharted Waters

Another workman-like win, another new opportunity.

By dispatching the Baylor "Lack-of-institutional-control" Bears, Iowa State has sailed further into unknown waters for both the football team and the fan base.

Savor the moment and the possibilities.

Ames has been playing football since 1892, and hasn't won a conference title since winning the Missouri Valley in 1911 and 1912. To still have a chance to play for a title in mid-November is remarkable.

In 2013 the Cyclones gave up 71 points to Baylor. In 2016 Baylor scored 45 in Ames, a game ISU should have won. Yet Baylor has only scored 27 points in the last two games combined. The progress is obvious.

Enjoy the moment, and hope that Texas is distracted this week.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Keep it simple, stupid

You learn a lot by looking a teams at their extremes. Most look at how a team performs against top flight competition. I also look at games when the team is a big favorite.

Aside from Butler's two ridiculous TD catches in the first half, there was little flash in Iowa State's 27-3 win over Kansas. Once up two scores, there were lots of running plays and outside screens, but only a few attempts at pushing the ball down the field. Three of those attempts in the fourth led to sacks, including the one time KU blitzed. It was minimalist, time-possession ball on offense, which should be a window into how Coach Campbell likes things. An Art Briles Baylor team would have tried to hang 80 in Lawrence; ISU was happy with 27.

That's doesn't mean Campbell was casual about scoring. The First-and-Goal possessions that led to short field goals peeved him, according to the replays. He still wants to maximize the opportunities that the team gets. But a 12-play, 8:00 drive is preferred to a 3 play, :55 drive every time.

The defense adjusted in the second half to close down the KU running game (~25 yards in the half) and were content to play prevent for multiple drives. CSJ staff counted 11 plays in the Red Zone for KU in the 4th- and they came away with zero points. KU's best shot at scoring came in the 1st on a broken coverage, and the receiver flat out dropped a TD at the ISU 5. So goes their season. KU's field goal was the result of a drive that only got to the ISU 29. Stout when it mattered.

Yes, 100+ passing yards in quarter is concerning, but it was garbage time against the prevent. Scoreboard matters.

Which brings up the aforementioned Bears. They are certainly capable of winning in Ames if the Cyclones are not on point, but the performance in Lawrence suggests that the staff and team can maintain focus when it is required.

Monday, October 29, 2018


It was refreshing to watch our Cyclones find a way to win a game they would have lost only two years ago.

Progress is fun.

The next order of business is beating the three conference teams left on the schedule that the metrics say are not as good as Iowa State. Take care of business as the old saying goes.