Observation #1 - Let me put
on the Captain Obvious cape and utter the phrase that will be repeated the rest
of the conference season: This is a different team. And maybe the keyword in
that previous phrase was team. Last night in Ames, the Red Raiders scrapped, battled , suffered setbacks, underwent adversity…and
answered. More importantly, they won. This game wasn’t a game that the Red
Raiders could have won in 2011. Not enough went right early and anything the
offense did would have been too late. The defense kept the Red Raiders in the
first half by holding to Iowa State to 0-6 on 3rd down and taking a
7-7 tie into the locker room. The
offense wasn’t pretty, but they did enough in the second
half to win. This team needed this win to help enforce everything that the
coaches have been preaching since spring practice. I think it will pay
dividends the rest of the season.
Game Ball – Offense:
Eric Ward. We’re starting to see the guy that carried this offense the second
half of 2011. He has 4 TDs in the last two games. 4 of the 9 catches Ward had
were for a first down. One was a touchdown, two others set up second down and 2
or less. Ward made plays when no one else could when this team needed them the
Honorable Mention: RB Kenny Williams. 15 carries 80 tough, hard earned yatrds.
Game Ball – Defense:
Kerry Hyder (With apologies to CB Cornelius Douglas.)
Hyder is the most dominant defensive lineman on a
line that is dominating. 5 tackles, 2 sacks and a fumble recovery. The mere
presence of Hyder’s in his pursuit of Steele Jantz late in the 4th
quarter caused Jantz to drop the ball. That’s
intimidation, folks. When Steele Jantz was pressured,
he made bad decisions. When Steele Jantz made a bad
decision, more times than not, Kerry Hyder was a
High Honorable Mention: Cornelius
Douglas. 2 INTs. 3 tackles.
Pass offense: It didn’t
go well early for Seth Doege and company. That was
evident from the first pass that was just out of reach to Alex Torres. It
wasn’t all Doege’s fault. Iowa State would pressure
the young guards up front and force Doege out of the
pocket, then a delayed blitz, or a linebacker staying at home and then trying
to close in would force the bad throws. On the Klein interception, I don’t
think Doege saw him, and it was just a good play. The
second interception by Jacques Washington was a
actually a worse throw than the one to Klein.
I wrote and talked a lot last week about what
would be a better mismatch for the inside receivers versus the Iowa State
inside linebackers. Turned out it was the speed of Jakeem
Grant and Javon Bell that gave them more trouble than
TE Jace Amaro. Neal Brown,
though used Amaro very effectively as a blocker on
the outside when throwing a quick screens and slants. It wasn’t always pretty,
but Brown made the adjustments necessary and it worked.
Run offense: Like the
passing game, there wasn’t a whole lot early. Kenny Williams had a run midway
through the second quarter that might have turned the tide. Running to the
right off a counter, he slashed past the line and found a little bit of a
crease. Kenny Williams is earning some tough yards right now for this team and
is overall probably playing better than Eric Stephens. Stephens will be a
factor in several conference games this season, but Williams was a better fit
against a physical defense.
Pass Defense: What can
you say? This group is playing well together. The national pundits will say
they are untested until they play the passing teams of the Big 12, but it
appears that going up against this receiving corps is reaping benefits. 3
interceptions against Iowa State ties their season total from last year of 5.
They will get their tests the next two weeks, but for now, there’s not a whole
lot to critique.
Rush Defense: This front
seven held a rushing team to 155 total yards and 3.1 yards per carry. Minus a
36 yard run early and a 21 yard scramble where Hyder
had pressure and then was pushed out of the play by a lineman, this running
game was held in check. The most important stat to me was holding Iowa State to
0-6 on 3rd down in the first half. They were at their best when they
needed to step up and help their offensive teammates while they figured things
Room for improvement: Aside from
this team finding a way to win when it all wasn’t going their way, the best
thing that came out of the Iowa State game was in every aspect of the team,
there is a lot of room for improvement.
OL: Has to figure out a way to stop
more than 4 pass rushers. It might be a lot to ask, but there are some
OU, TCU (and I’m not a huge TCU believer) and Texas that will use
this game tape and try to build on it.
not named Eric Ward: Darrin Moore specifically. Need more out of you. Moore
looked very frustrated last night. A couple of screen plays blew up him last
night and he had a tough time getting open. I like what Moore brings to the offense, but
he needs to raise his game against conference competition and not continue to
live off his performance last year against Texas State.
QB: There were a few glimpses of the
2011 version of Seth Doege last night. He has to make
better decisions on the run. There were some throws he got away with last night
that a faster secondary would have broken up or intercepted. I know it starts
with the OL, but Doege’s got to trust the process
enough to remember as long as you have the next play, sometimes you’re doing
DE: The pressure is still coming
from positions other than defensive end. And maybe that’s how it’s designed to
be this season. Jackson Richards had a good first half with 4 tackles. Dartwan Bush had some good plays, but this team still needs
an edge rusher. Of the 9 sacks so far by the defense, only 2 have come from DE.
Bush had one against UNM and Pete Robertson got to Jantz
at the end of the game last night.
Special Teams: Bustin missed a FG attempt that would have given a little
bit of a cushion, but it was at the end of the field where I think only one out
of 4 attempted kicks was made. Of more concern is the punt coverage team that
had the opportunity to down 3 punts inside the 5 yard line, but got none. Two
awkward bounces and a penalty for fair catch interference hurt a pretty good
performance from Ryan Erxleben.
In all, the Red Raiders got out of Ames with
a win. They showed the fanbase and more importantly
themselves that they can overcome some adversity and like a pitcher who doesn’t
have his best stuff, figures out a way to win.