The Cyclones finally ended the Big 12 losing streak with an impressive win against the Baylor Bears last week. Iowa State still has some areas that they can improve upon, but I have been impressed with the team’s ability to get better every week. Here are my thoughts on the performance the Cyclones put together against the Bears.
Game Analysis: Iowa State Cyclones vs Baylor Bears
Outstanding Receiver Play
I wanted to recognize the outstanding performances that the Cyclone receiving corps had last week against Baylor. Marquis Hamilton, Derrick Catlett and Josh Lenz all had great games; making some tough catches in coverage for the Cyclones. While a lot of the praise will be placed on the play of Austen Arnaud, the play of Marquis, Derrick and Josh made the difference in the Cyclones being able to move the ball. They were especially good on third downs for the Cyclones, helping the team convert 12 of 18 third down opportunities. We will definitely need to have them at their best on Saturday if we are going to take a win out of Lincoln.
The defensive unit had a great game last week against the Bears. I especially want to single out the play of linebackers Jesse Smith and Fred Garrin. Jesse continues to be a tackling machine for the Cyclones registering 11 tackles on the day. Fred also had seven tackles; but his two interceptions really made the difference for the Cyclones. Fred’s interceptions set up the offense with great field position! James Smith also had a great game coming up for some big hits in the secondary. His play along with strong safety David Sims will be put to the test against a Nebraska offense that will throw the ball 30 plus times this week.
Jerome had a very solid performance on Saturday coming off the bench for an injured Austen Arnaud. While it was apparent that the coaches reduced the number of plays from the playbook, Jerome ran them with a confidence well beyond his freshman status. His play does not create a quarterback controversy but does show that we have a very capable back-up should anything happen to Austen. It also would be interesting to see if Jerome could get some snaps in Clone formation (ISU’s version of the Wildcat). His ability to run and/or pass the ball would potentially create some challenges for a defense to stop.
I will make this short and sweet! Grant you need to improve your play or the coaches should start looking for another option. If we want any chance of becoming bowl eligible this season, we will need stronger performances from our kicking game. We are a few extra points and field goals away from having a much better record.
Keys to Victory against Nebraska
Here are my keys to victory this week for the Cyclones:
1) Defense cannot give up big plays to Nebraska. If they can keep the 20+ yard plays to a minimum, they will give themselves a shot to win.
2) If A-Rob cannot go this week, Jeremiah Schwartz will need to step up. He has shown he is a very capable fill-in for A-Rob, but Nebraska’s defense will really test our ability to run the ball
3) Grant needs to put the ball through the uprights when given the opportunity. We cannot continue to leave points off the board in the kicking game.
4) The Offensive Line will be put to the test this week against All-American and Heisman candidate Ndamukong Suh. If they can win the battle on the line of scrimmage, we have a chance of putting some yards up against their secondary.
Well, that is it for this week! Up next a breakdown of the Nebraska game and a look ahead to Texas A&M!