Monday, September 02, 2019

Bullet. Dodged.

Few will recall the defense holding UNI to 33 rushing yards, one red-zone trip and 6 points in regulation.

All will remember the bumbling, stumbling offensive performance. One step forward, one step sideways, one shot in the foot. Solid on first and second down, incompetent on third or fourth. Dynamic between the 20's, Keystone Cops in the red zone. Four great plays in Tempo force a UNI time out, so never run Tempo the rest of the game.

We understand that the first game against a (supposedly) overmatched opponent is an opportunity to get a bunch of things on tape, and run players, formations and plays in new combinations. But at some point in the second half you have to focus on the whole point of the afternoon: Win the dang game.

Despite the offenses best attempts, Iowa State did win the game, almost on accident. They all count the same, even if the Russian judge would have hated it.

Two weeks until the Goblas arrive in the 515, and so much on offense to repair. Even though betting is now legal in Iowa, there is no way you should touch this one. Still too much in the unknown.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Spin It Up

With the Cyclone Hype Train at historic levels, actual football can't arrive soon enough. Given how 2018 played out, you can't blame Cyclone fans from drinking some of the Kool-Aid.

Tell the CSJ staff how well the offensive line will run block and we will tell you which side of 8 wins the team ends up with. Run the ball poorly and it will be a struggle against the better half of the schedule. Run the ball well and all kinds of possibilities open up.

Since sports gambling will be legal in Iowa next week, our nickel is on an 8-4 finish. Solid play on both sides of the ball, but Purdy and gang won't be able to manufacture multiple miracle finishes like they needed so often last year. (Tech, KSU, Drake) You can only tap that well so many times.

As the league goes, OU and Texas are on their own tier. Iowa State, Okie State, TCU and Baylor are the next tier. WVU, K State and Tech will need time to install all the new stuff. KU is 10th until further notice.

Tiers 2 and 3 will be a random draw of wins and losses. ISU could finish 3rd through 6th and we won't be surprised. It will be that kind of year.

As always, enjoy the ride. You never know when it will end.

Monday, April 01, 2019

Disapointment Or Success?

In October, NCAA trips would have been a successful season for both Iowa State basketball teams.

But given how each was playing in early January, fans rightfully raised the bar for the season.

While the women were able to finish first in the Best Big 12 Team Not Named Baylor race, the men stumbled down the stretch. The women's march to the title game and the men's run to the title had fans giddy.

The individual losses that knocked each out of the tournament were uncharacteristically poor shooting nights, yet each had chances to win in the final minute. When you get in that situation you cross your fingers and hope you get the bounces. Neither did.

But the body of work was solid, and compared to the previous year, were solid steps forward. Now the job is to maintain that level of play despite big changes in production. The parts are there. The question is if the parts can improve and mesh.

The winter of 2019-20 should be worth watching.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

A Victory Of Effort

While the last three weeks have not gone the way that Cyclone fans had hoped, today's home loss to Tech was a minor victory (I'm not using the term "moral victory").

The effort was the effort that is needed on a nightly basis. Everyone seemed to be working the game plan. They were where they wanted to be with four minutes left. The better team ended up winning the game and a share of the league title. Bully for them.

Is the season a disappointment? From where we stood three weeks ago, yes. But I try to take the long-term view at moments like this. A bad effort today would have been a red flag for the long term health of the program. We may have avoided a full implosion.

Beat Baylor in Kansas City and things get interesting again. Go get 'em.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Giddy. Up.

An impressive second half in Manhattan pushed Iowa State back into the conversation for a conference title. ISU shouldn't have lost to K State back in the first week of January, but the way the Wildcats have played in the league takes that game out of "bad loss" category.

Keep winning and cross our collective fingers that the needed losses come to pass.

Hopefully the home loss to TCU won't block the Cyclones from a title. This is more fun than guessing if ISU will avoid the Wednesday game.

Saturday, January 12, 2019


Kansas State entered Saturday's game in the top 10 for defensive efficiency- and the way they denied the drive befuddled Iowa State's offense. If adjustments were being made, they were not apparent until the second half.

It also took a full half for the Cyclones to realize that fouls were not going to be called on the defense, so you might as well get rough with the Wildcats. Rough they got, and physical defense helped get them a 7 point lead with 5 minutes to play. Had that change come in the first half, perhaps KSU never builds their 11 point half-time lead.

The last three offensive possessions were empty, and the last ten possessions resulted in only 6 points. That is sub-optimal.

But it also means they are very close. Small improvements move losses into the win column.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Reverting to the mean

The CSJ staff agreed after an entertaining dismantling of Kansas on Saturday that the true test would come Tuesday in Waco, and the collective hunch was right.

The effort was a click lower, the details just a bit off, the shots a little less smooth, a little more forced. In other words, it was the typical game after a team gets a big win and has to go on the road. It's all good when the shots are falling like Saturday, but another nut when they are not.

Reminder: Don't complain about bad calls at the end when you put yourself in position to get squeezed by a bad call. The last three minutes of offense were lousy for Iowa State, and clinched the loss.

Learn from Waco and improve.