Monday, November 23, 2020


 Kansas State gained 62 yards on their first possession, but were stoned in their four plays inside the 10. 

They then gained 87 yards across the remaining 11 possessions in the game, and failed to score. Their second best possession was 7 plays for 28 yards and a turnover on downs. They gave up 5 3-and-outs. 

While it was fun watching the offense floor it when they had their chances, the job done by the defense was spectacular, and gives Cyclone fans hope in a rather important game in Austin on Friday.

All gas, no brakes.

Sunday, November 08, 2020


A 3 INT start would have crushed most Cyclone football teams.

This team ran off 21 plays for 210 yards and four touchdowns in a little more than 15 minutes in the second half to overwhelm Baylor.

The defense limited Baylor to 11 plays and 16 yards during the burst. 

The sequence felt like a crazy run for the Hoiball period- coming back from 20 down in 6 minutes to pull a game out of the fire. Good times.

The CSJ staff has spent 40 years doubting that Iowa State could win a conference title because of the difficulty of the task. Now the staff is saying- “Why not?”

Sunday, November 01, 2020


 Many are arguing that criticism of a 30 point conference win is nitpicking. I must differ.

Organizations that improve and grow are constantly reviewing and grading themselves, examining both the good and the bad. Sports is one of the few areas of our lives that studies itself as part of the routine. Most businesses and almost all humans are comfortable in their productive ruts. As long as the habits are causing damage, let things be. 

Sports realizes that rapid change is needed as seasons have hard limits, and opportunities are quickly lost. Grumbling about offensive lulls and disastrous special teams play is appropriate, as each week the window  for a championship closes a little more. Given Iowa States lack of football success, simply being in the conversation should have everyone involved on high alert. This kind of opportunity is exceedingly rare in Ames, and one should never assume it will return anytime soon. Life is random. When a door opens you have to be ready to walk through it. 

Being ready requires nitpicking when it feels awkward. Champions nitpick.

Sunday, October 25, 2020


 Louisiana defended the Cyclones with man coverage and pocket pressure on every play. The Cyclones never found a rhythm and lost.

Okie State defended with man coverage and pocket pressure. The Cyclones never found a rhythm and lost. 

The word is out on how to slow Purdy and Co. The job ahead will be scheming how to overcome blitz pressure.

Sunday, October 11, 2020


 Texas Tech's first nine offensive possessions, plays/yards, result:

3/7, punt

3/7, punt

7/34, punt

4/19, punt

2/2, half

5/10, punt

4/9, downs (at ISU 30)

3/7, punt

6/54, downs (at ISU 25)

That’s 38 plays for 149 yards and no points. 3.9 yards per play. 6 punts in 8 possessions, and 2 turnovers on downs. Against a team averaging 37 points per game. Domination.

If your defense can hold teams that far below their averages, you can win a lot of games.

Ignore the last two possessions as the were classic ‘Garbage Time’ results. Iowa State was in a 3 man rush Prevent, and in 19 plays across two drives rushed more than 3 exactly once, resulting in a sack. 

The offense played their part by controlling the ball on long drives, and with the exception of some poor execution in the red zone had a Grade A day. Also winning football.

The biggest test to date is next in Stillwater. The Cyclones are definitely trending in the right direction. 

Sunday, October 04, 2020


 CSJ staff spent 15 minutes after the game explaining to the less experienced members of the staff how difficult a nut Oklahoma has been for Iowa State over time. The Sooners don’t beat Iowa State, they thrash them. 56-3 seems like the median score in the series.

But sprinkled within the blowouts were near-misses that were more aggravating than the thumpings. A missed field goal as time expired to settle for a 7-7 tie. A 12-10 home loss on national TV. An onside kick returned for the winning TD. Going 0-3 against John Blake, who went 12-22 as OU coach. An uncalled DPI on a 2 point attempt for the win. And on, and on, and on.

Part of Cyclone fandom never believed that Iowa State could win the league because OU would always be in the way, but the final lock has been turned, and the door to a title path has been opened.

The only thing left is to walk the walk. Forward.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Good to Great?

 The win over TCU was a massive step forward on offense, and suggests potential for greatness as the season moves forward.

Given the choice, the CSJ staff will choose run blocking over pass blocking every time, as run blocking opens up passing options in ways that don’t occur in the reverse. Go big fellas, go.

Give OU a second conference loss and the league breaks wide, wide open. A national audience will be watching to see if Iowa State has become a Big Boy or is still a Plucky Upstart.

The New Big Boys find a way to win. Go get it done.