MID-WEEK MAILBAG: Iowa State football returns, a Brock Purdy statue, & tailgate consumption limits

Aug 31, 2019; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell talks to quarterback Brock Purdy (15) during a game against the Northern Iowa Panthers at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones won 29-26 in three overtimes. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

After receiving a hundred “where is the Mid-Week Mailbag?” emails over the past few weeks from adoring fans (give or take a hundred emails), the time has come to let the beast out of its cage once again. We’re back, baby.

In all seriousness, the plan going forward is to do an MWM once per month in order to keep things fresh and clean. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, after all. Since the MWM is the triple-layer fudge-smothered chocolate cake of the Cyclone Fanatic catalog, it’s best to limit your intake to avoid getting too fat from all the sugary goodness. We wouldn’t want you to not be able to make it up the stairs to your seats in the Jack this fall.

Iowa State kicked off the season on Saturday in uninspiring fashion but escaped with a close triple-overtime win against perennial nuisance UNI. 1-0 has never felt so good and so wrong at the same time. I’m thankful that this season debut of the mailbag won’t be stuffed full of varying levels of THE SKY IS FALLING reactions that we would have gotten had those two numbers been reversed.

Anyway, you didn’t come here for my cute introduction. Let’s roll right into the questions.

acoustimac (forums) asks: What is the purpose in the supposed conservative play calling in week one? It’s not like people don’t have tape of three years of our current coaching staff in action.

PabloDiablo (forums) asks: At what point does Iowa State stop running a “vanilla” gameplan against our first opponent to avoid giving tape to Iowa? Would it be a better strategy to get game speed reps for a larger portion of the potential playbook to secure “elite” execution?

cymonw1980 (forums) asks: Do you think Purdy operating from the pocket like he did vs UNI will be more successful than the pump fake / run threat version we saw a year ago? I know it’s hard to compare this year without butler to last year with… but while Purdy was efficient (30/41, 278), there was very little playmaking. Lots of taking what was given like 4 yds on 3rd and 5. That goes down as a completion but does not help you win.

All three of these questions revolve around being conservative in some capacity, so I grouped them together.

Personally, I don’t mind being conservative to some degree against an opponent like UNI in week one. Teams change enough from year to year on offense with personnel losses (especially when you lose talents like David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler) that there is some value in keeping at least a portion of the “good stuff” in the playbook behind a curtain.

Now that Iowa State’s program has built some momentum over the past couple years and raised the overall talent level, it shouldn’t take busting out all of the tricks in order to beat FCS teams. The problem with Saturday in particular to me, outside of the mental mistakes that killed a few of the series on offense, was the combination of the offensive line being poor in pass protection and the running backs not optimizing their opportunities as Jay Jordan pointed out in his post-game review.

The O-line should not have struggled against UNI’s pass rush as much as they did. I know it sounds a bit arrogant to say that, but a true Big 12-caliber offensive line should be able to have its way against an FCS unit. If the O-line controls the line of scrimmage then that makes a conservative game plan much more feasible.

So to sum things up, I’m not against a vanilla approach in week 1 against a team the Cyclones should beat. I’m just disappointed it took three overtimes to put away an inferior opponent using that approach.

Regarding Purdy specifically, I’d be shocked if he isn’t set loose a bit more against Iowa. Not in a Collin Klein-Esque power run scheme kind of way – rather keeping the ball a bit more often on RPO and zone-read plays in addition to some designed QB roll-outs to get away from the teeth of the Hawkeye defensive line. We’ll likely see more deep shots down the field too.

If the game plan for Iowa turns out to be keeping Purdy in the pocket and throwing eight-yard passes all day, you’ll hear my screams of agony from wherever you happen to be watching the game.

ISUser (forums) asks: What do you think is the biggest fan overreaction from the game?

“We should stop scheduling UNI.”

That line of thinking makes my blood boil. For years, we’ve heard the same schtick from Hawkeye fans about scheduling Iowa State.

How about instead of running away from them, we just beat them like we’re supposed to?

Cyched (forums) asks: How do you like our odds against Bye? Convincing win, or close grind-it-out game like UNI?

CtownCyclone (forums) asks: Has your opinion of the timing of this bye week changed? I know prior to the season, I felt like it would have been better to play a couple of games and then have the bye before the Big 12 slate begins. However, after Week 1, I think I’m glad that it falls where it does.

With the way the game against UNI turned out, I like the timing of the bye week more than I did prior to the season. There are a couple of guys who got banged up that now have an extra week to get healthy ahead of the Cy-Hawk game and there’s also added time to clean up everything that made Saturday’s bout such a nail-biter.

If ISU can avoid any significant injuries or suspensions (knock on wood) this week then that will be a solid victory over BYE, an opponent that has given us troubles in the past.

jay moe (forums) asks: What do you think of the match-up between ISU O-line and the TOE D-line?

It’s not going to be pretty.

The good news is, the Cyclones can game plan for the negative match-up and mitigate the pressure on Purdy with creative play calling. The bad news is, there are likely some plays in the playbook that won’t be usable because there won’t be enough time to let them develop.

Aclone (forums) asks: Are Good-Jones and Meeker still starting at tackle by November?

I’d put a lot of money on “no” at this point. JGJ has always seemed much better suited for the interior to me and I would say he’ll get moved inside somewhere for one reason or another. Meeker is a bigger question mark, but there are guys lurking in the two-deeps that the coaches have said good things about and if more performances like the UNI game happen here early in the season, I don’t think it’ll take long for shuffling/demotion to occur.

CycloneNorth (forums) asks: At the end of the season what will the breakdown of carries be by RB?

That’s SO TOUGH because after watching the first game, all four guys who got carries seem like legitimate options because they all have different strengths. Johnnie Lang is the shifty back that can hide behind the offensive linemen, Breece Hall is the big back that’s overflowing with potential, Kene Nwangwu is the pure speed option, and Sheldon Croney Jr. is the no-nonsense hit-the-hole-fast guy.

My heart wants to say that Hall will take on the bulk of the carries eventually as the staff grooms him to become the next bell-cow back for the cardinal and gold. But at this point in time, my brain says they’ll deploy guys for specific situations, kind of like a bullpen in baseball.

Here’s my best guess at the end-of-season carry breakdown:

Hall: 50%

Nwangwu: 20%

Lang: 20%

Croney: 10%

Aug 31, 2019; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back Sheldon Croney Jr. (25) runs away from Northern Iowa Panthers linebacker Bryce Flater (22) at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones won 29-26 in three overtimes. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Sigmapolis (forums) asks: You can add any ISU basketball player from the 2010-2011 season (i.e., the first Hoiberg year) to the men’s basketball team for the upcoming season. Who do you add and why?

Jamie Vanderbeken. His skill-set as a stretch big was so unique and underrated. He’d be a great complement to a lineup that should feature quite a few guys who can drive and dish to an open shooter.

Runners-up are Diante Garrett and Scottie Christopherson. Garrett ended up being a fantastic player for that roster, but this year’s version of the Cyclones should have a fair amount of guys that are comparable to his skill set. Christopherson’s shooting would be a valuable addition, but Vanderbeken provides a similar outside threat from the post position and that’s the difference-maker.

I hear you, one guy, yelling at me through your computer screen about ignoring the spectacular Melvin Ejim. Just remember that in this scenario, we’d be getting freshman Melvin Ejim, who was still solid but nowhere near as refined as he was his junior and senior seasons. So simmer down already.

Quick Hitters

Bret44 (forums) asks: When will the Brock Purdy diving for the fumble statue be commissioned?

It has already been commissioned and should be in place, right in the middle of the visiting team’s bench area, by the time of next week’s Cy-Hawk game kickoff.

CoKane (forums) asks: Who do you think is the most likely player to get drafted next year from the football team?

Of all the seniors, Ray Lima is the one I’d put money on to be taken in the draft at some point. He may not be the highest Cyclone taken, but I’d be shocked if he were to go undrafted. Other candidates I would consider are Marcel Spears Jr., JaQuan Bailey, and Josh Knipfel.

CyJeans (forums) asks: How many plates of food at a tailgate is too much? 2? 3? 4+? Asking for a friend.

Are you hosting the tailgate? Unlimited plates.

Is one of your friends hosting the tailgate? Three plates. One obligatory plate, a second plate because you’re still hungry, and a bonus third plate because your friend won’t judge.

Is someone else you don’t know hosting the tailgate? Two plates. After the first plate, it’s a compliment to the chef to get seconds. After that, however, you start to look a little greedy.

Doc (forums) asks: Head referee last Saturday: Too thicc, just right, or needs to eat more meat?

Too thicc. Hard to focus and make logical calls (ahem, Purdy did not fumble the ball forward 5+ yards) when you’re toting weapons of mass destruction everywhere.

VegasCy (forums) asks: Who ya got? LSU or Texas.

Texas is my underrated underdog pick of the week for Stanz & Fitz (currently a 5-6 point dog). I like the Longhorns at home.

mdk2isu (forums) asks: Who is going to be playing in the Super Bowl this season?

Patriots and…….(ugh)…….Bears.

JP4CY (forums) asks: Rambo: Last Blood. Yes or No?

Yes. I’ve never been a big Rambo guy myself, though I support Sly Stallone’s efforts to continue making as many violent “tough guy” movies as he can while he’s still able.

coolerifyoudid (forums) asks: Do different colored M&M’s taste the same, or can you tell a difference?

madguy30 (forums) adds: Ditto but with Skittles. We know the deal with Starburst..why even make yellow?

M&M’s all taste the same. The important thing regarding M&M’s is distinguishing which variety of M&M’s is the best, and the answer is clearly peanut butter M&M’s, followed by peanut M&M’s, followed by the regular variety. Any other kind of M&M’s is an abomination and should be banned from consumption by the federal government.

Skittles are definitely different from color to color. It’s a good thing they don’t make bags with just purple Skittles or I’d have another vice in my life.

BCClone (forums) asks: Why is Subways American cheese white? It’s been that way for a while. Do they bleach or dye it? It makes you think they are throwing provolone on it. It’s wrong man, it’s wrong. It needs to be orange.

The answer is that Subway wants to be the “healthy” fast food place and good old processed yellow/orange American cheese doesn’t fit that vibe. It’s very un-American if you ask me.

cmjh10 (forums) asks: Early pick of the winner of CF All-Stars Fantasy Football League?

internetman Celebrity Answer of the Week

(A new feature of the Mid-Week Mailbag, where famed Cyclone Fanatic forum member internetman answers a question from our readers.)

CloneFan4 (forums) asks: What is your favorite tailgating activity?

Dear Reader:

Thank you for the question. My favorite activity is just spending time with my family. I am advancing in age and so are my children. We will live such busy lives that we sometimes get lost in the fog that is life. When my children were younger we didn’t have a tailgating spot. We had a small plot of the hillside but it was ours nonetheless. Now thanks to the Bush-era tax cuts and living off my hardworking parent’s (greatest generation) money, I am able to donate a large amount of money to the University. I now have my tailgating spot. To make a long story short, no matter your socioeconomic status the true meaning of tailgating is spending a wonderful time with your family and loved ones. Unless you’re rich like me and passing out drunk after the game in your huge RV. NO MORE DUIS FOR THIS GUY.

until next time,



Thanks for swinging through to read the latest edition of the Mid-Week Mailbag. We’ll see you back here in a few weeks. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for the Cyclone Fanatic forums to get in on the next round of questions!


Kevin Fitzpatrick


Kevin graduated from the Iowa State Greenlee School of Journalism in 2015 and spent two years as the managing editor of ISU's SB Nation blog, Wide Right & Natty Lite. He enjoys golfing and spending time with his beautiful wife Kimmy in his free time.

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