Frustrating Season Drawing to Close

The good news is that the 2003 Cyclone football season will be over soon. It has certainly been a frustrating experience for fans, players, coaches and everyone associated with the program.

After next Saturday's visit to Missouri, we can all move forward and hope that better things lie ahead for Iowa State football.

It would be difficult to get much worse.

The 36-7 defeat in Lawrence had its share of low points; that's for sure. For example…

The Jayhawks had given up an average of 217 yards on the ground per game in their first seven Big 12 contests this fall. An AVERAGE of 217 rushing yards. Oh, and Kansas was allowing an average of 5.0 yards per carry in conference action. If there was ever a game for the Cyclone ground attack to show some improvement, this was it. However, Iowa State was unable to crack the century mark on Saturday, gaining 97 yards on the ground on a measly 2.7 yards per carry. Ugh. Then, consider that in their previous four games, the Jayhawks were allowing an AVERAGE of 274 rushing yards and a 5.6-yard average per carry…and well…it's just pretty hard to believe that the Cyclones couldn't have accomplished more on the ground.

Kansas had allowed 198 passing yards per game in the Big 12…and a 62% completion rate. However, as Iowa State played musical quarterbacks, the passing game could not gain any consistency. At the end of the day, the Cyclones had mustered only 79 yards in the air on 10-for-28 accuracy (36%). Again, it's just very hard to believe.

Meanwhile, the Jayhawks ran for 180 yards on the day, averaging over four yards per carry. Bill Whittemore played quarterback—returning from an injury—and was extremely productive, passing for 221 yards and running for 85. Plus, he distributed the ball to six different receivers. Brandon Rideau and Clark Green each had five receptions. Nice numbers. Nice balance. Nice results.

But, I suppose the true optimist would be able to find a few positives, as well, including…

When Adam Benike nailed the extra point with 17 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Iowa State held its first lead—7 to 6—of the Big 12 season.

Stevie Hicks finally carried the ball 20 times in a single game. It might not have been the most productive day of his young career, but at least he got a chance to handle the ball quite a bit.

The Cyclone defense came out and played well early on, giving up only seven points on the Jayhawks' first five possessions, while intercepting a pass on the first drive, forcing a pair of punts and holding Kansas on a fourth down try.

Jason Berryman had another solid performance, finishing with eight tackles, including two stops for losses and a quarterback sack.

And since it's the nature of being a sports fan, we want to look ahead and see what positives might be on the horizon. For example…

Jason Scales has committed to joining the Cyclone program. He will enroll at ISU for the second semester and participate in spring drills. The star tailback from West Des Moines Valley finished his senior season last weekend as the top player on the two-time state champions. Scales ran for 2,109 yards and 32 touchdowns this season and could have had even more impressive stats if Valley's games throughout the season been closer. It certainly sounds like Scales is not just a top-notch tailback, but also a terrific young man. Coach McCarney has to be thrilled with the addition of Scales to the program.

Coach McCarney has also spoken very highly about redshirt quarterback Bret Meyer of Atlantic. It sounds as if the 6-3 freshman may have a shot to be ISU's starting QB next fall.

So many freshmen have played this season that it simply HAS to bode well for improvement next fall. Doesn't it? Obviously, these guys will be plenty motivated this offseason as nobody wants to suffer through another year like this one.

Nobody that I know saw this type of season coming in Ames. Hopefully, it will be a long, lonnnnnnnng time before we see another one like it.

(Marty Gallagher founded the popular web site IowaSportsOpinions.com. You can e-mail him at Marty@IowaSportsOpinions.com.)


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