No. 1: Joel Lanning Emerges at QB
Fans have clamored to see more of what redshirt sophomore quarterback Joel Lanning can do behind center aside from the package Iowa State has designed for him and used with some success in recent weeks.
Now both fans and the coaching staff have a gauge.
With the Cyclones trailing 35-0 midway through the second quarter, and with Sam Richardson having thrown two interceptions, Iowa State inserted Lanning at quarterback. Iowa State promptly moved down the field for its first score, though the 8-play, 75-yard drive came on eight rushes, one by Lanning.
Still, when all was said and done, Lanning made it clear he has emerged as the program’s quarterback. Lanning went 12-of-17 for 144 yards, completing three touchdown passes, including two precision passes in the corner of the end zone.
Come Monday, it would seem difficult for coach Paul Rhoads to pencil anyone else in for the start against Texas than Lanning.
No. 2: The Defense Steps Up
The defense has been tested in recent weeks, facing two of the nation’s top-3 offenses entering Saturday with the nation’s top offense on deck in Baylor.
Iowa State is likely to take a moral victory from its second-half performance Saturday.
Facing a Baylor team that entered Saturday averaging 720 yards and 64 points per game, Iowa State ultimately held the Bears to 45 points in the loss. Thirty-five of those points came in the first 1 ½ quarters.
In fact, Baylor didn’t score for the first 24 minutes, 29 seconds of the second half and punted five times Saturday after punting 13 times in the first six games combined. The Cyclones held Baylor to 485 yards, more than 200 under its season average.
It’s possible the weather played some role, but Baylor racked up points early and certainly didn’t attempt to slow down when Iowa State stepped up in the final 2 ½ quarters of play.
The unit is likely taking a sigh of relief now that its gauntlet of facing the nation’s top-3 offenses in back-to-back-to-back weeks has come to an end.
No. 3: The Young Rushers Showing Promise
The bright spot in Iowa State’s offense midway through the season had been the work of the young running backs, and that trend continued in Game 7.
Redshirt freshman Mike Warren rushed for 145 yards on 28 carries, pushing his season mark to 797 yards and closer to the 1,000-yard mark. Warren needs to average only 40.6 yards per game in the remaining five games this season to become Iowa State’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2009.
Meanwhile, true freshman Joshua Thomas had the best game of his young career. With four touchdowns on the season entering Saturday, Thomas had already shown his raw talent as a short yardage back, but Saturday he showed a glimpse of his speed and every down back ability against Baylor.
Thomas broke a 42-yard run and finished with 77 yards on 13 carries. He also found the end zone for the fifth time this season, putting him just one rushing touchdown shy of the Iowa State freshman rushing touchdown record.