By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com Publisher
The defense was awesome. Wally Burnham’s crew scored 14 points, forced five turnovers and pitched a shutout in Iowa State’s 27-0 win over Northern Iowa.
The offense was well….Not so awesome.
Here are my final thoughts on the victory.
Grant Mahoney – On a football team that has been inconsistent through four games in 2010, Iowa State’s ace kicker has been anything but that. Grant Mahoney did everything on Saturday night. He was perfect on field goals from 37 and 46-yards. He ran for a first down on a fake field goal. He even made a tackle. Without question, Grant Mahoney gets my game ball for the Northern Iowa victory.
A.J. Klein – THIS JUST IN. A source just told me via a text message that A.J. Klein just got another interception and returned it for a touchdown. How tough is this kid? Iowa State’s trainers were wiping blood off of his face only to watch him re-enter the game in the third quarter to create his second pick six in two weeks. In addition to that touchdown, Klein recorded five tackles and a fumble recovery. Klein leads Iowa State with 41 tackles on the season.
Jake Knott – Iowa State’s other sophomore linebacker led the team in tackles on Saturday night with 11. Add to that the fact that Knott picked off his third pass of the season in the first half. He also forced a fumble. After four games, Knott is second on the team in tackles with 35.
Jeremy Reeves – You have to give a guy with a 94-yard pick six a helmet sticker don’t you? Reeves had previously gotten burned on that same drive, but he did what all quality cornerbacks generally do. He forgot about it! Reeves had a short memory and made a huge play that ultimately sucked the life out of the Northern Iowa Panthers.
Stephen Ruempolhamer – It seems like this junior was in UNI’s backfield on about every play Saturday night. He was partly responsible for Jeremy Reeves’ pick six as he pressured Northern Iowa’s Zach Davis. Ruempolhamer recorded four tackles and a sack in the win.
Daniel Kuehl – The read that this senior made on Iowa State’s second quarter fake field goal was ridiculous. Can Kuehl throw a football? If so, Paul Rhoads might as well give him a shot at quarterback during practice this week. That is obviously a joke but Kuehl deserves some props for that trick play.
Jerome Tiller – Jerome Tiller’s stats from Saturday night won’t blow anybody away. After all, the sophomore quarterback was only 11-for-22 on the night while throwing for 87-yards against an FCS defense. Tiller also ran for 24-yards. But it isn’t about what Tiller did that impressed me. It’s what he didn’t do. That was turn the ball over. Tiller just makes good decisions. In a game like the one Iowa State was in last night, that is fine. He is the backup quarterback. He gave the team a chance to win. Don’t worry. I’ll dive more into this topic later. Keep reading please.
Turnover ratio – Iowa State forced five Northern Iowa turnovers in the win. Three were interceptions (two resulted in touchdowns) and two were fumbles. The Cyclones didn’t turn the football over at all. A five-zero turnover ratio will win any football team a lot of games. The defense that we saw last night reminded me of the one we saw all last season. Are they finally adopting that same mentality that Jesse Smith and the boys showed us a year ago? Iowa State’s opportunistic defensive effort against Northern Iowa had Wally Burnham written all over it.
Defensive line – Here’s a shout out to the entire Iowa State defensive line. They dominated the FCS Panthers. That’s exactly what they should have done against a team with five new starters on their offensive line. I loved seeing Roosevelt Maggitt record five tackles and force a fumble. Jake McDonough recorded two tackles for a loss.
Play in the red zone – Iowa State was 3-for-3 in the red zone in Saturday night’s victory. The Northern Iowa Panthers were 0-for-4.
Penalties – The Cyclones committed eight penalties for 60-yards. Penalties helped stall Iowa State’s field goal drives that could have easily resulted in touchdowns instead. Do I need to write anything else? Same old song right here. Clean it up fellas. The Big 12 South will invade Ames next week.
Total offense – Keep in mind that Iowa State didn’t start their second offensive possession of the second half until there was just over eight minutes to play in the fourth quarter. What I’m saying is that offensive statistics don’t mean much in this game in which the Cyclone defense absolutely dominated. But still, 93 passing yards isn’t good. Iowa State had one play over 20 yards in the game, which was on an Alexander Robinson run in the first half. Another game, same story. This offense severely lacks explosion. Let’s hope that the Cyclones are saving that pop for Big 12 play. How’s that for optimism?
Austen Arnaud – Is it Austen Arnaud’s fault that he got hurt on the first play of the game? No. But last night’s game was the perfect opportunity for Arnaud to gain some confidence, win back the faith of the Iowa State fan base and get this offense back on the right track. That didn’t happen, as Iowa State’s starting quarterback got dinged up on the first play of the game. I put Arnaud on my “three down” list due to that. He couldn’t help the injury, but it was a tough, tough break for this entire offensive unit. They missed out on a chance to work out the many kinks we have seen over the first four weeks of the season. The good thing for Arnaud is that his backup, Jerome Tiller didn’t really do anything that screamed, “I should be the starting quarterback next week when Texas Tech comes to down next week."
I gave Jerome Tiller a helmet sticker because he did exactly what your backup quarterback is supposed to do. He managed the game. He didn’t turn the football over and he did enough to lead Iowa State to a victory. But that’s it.
With Tiller in the game, we saw the same problems that have plagued Iowa State’s offense all season long. Penalties killed potential touchdown scoring drives. The running backs continued to miss reads. The offensive line was sketchy and the receivers struggled to create separation with their defenders.
Do you still think that Austen Arnaud is THE problem with Iowa State’s offense?
Like I wrote last week, this is an entire offensive issue. Pointing the finger at one guy is ridiculous. Every single player on that offense needs to do his job better than he’s done over the first four weeks. That’s how this offense will start to score more points. That’s what has to happen for Iowa State to win some games in the Big 12.