FB Insider: NIU Post-Game

Iowa State rallied for a victory over Northern Illinois in its final non-conference game, and improved to 2-1 heading into Big 12 play. With time to reflect on and review the Cyclone win, former offensive lineman Bob Montgomery evaluates the effort in the third of a series of post-game reports.

CN: First off, have you ever seen or been part of a game quite as crazy as this one?

Montgomery: Three games come to mind when I think of crazy games. The first is the Oklahoma State game when we played in Stillwater the last time, when Lane Danielsen caught the game-winning touchdown in the final minutes. Another game was the Iowa game in 2002 at Kinnick Stadium when we came back from a large halftime deficit to beat the Hawks. The last game is the infamous Florida State game in the Eddie Robinson Classic. That game was a true sign of grit and toughness out of a football team.

CN: This is the second consecutive week the Cyclones have bounced back from some second-half adversity. What has enabled them to do so?

Montgomery: I believe that the kids maybe realize after the first half that they are as good as the teams they are playing and start playing with the confidence necessary to win at a high level. The main ingredient that boosted the confidence of the team included Austin Flynn's attitude coming in during the second half of both games and believing that he was going to lead the team to the victory.

Another factor that contributed to the strong second half performances in the last two games is how good of shape our team is in compared to the other teams.

CN: What differences did you notice in the Cyclones after they fell behind 34-20 in the second half?

Montgomery: At the point in the game when we fell behind by 14, I could see our team and coaches rally together and decide that they were going to come back and win this game. You could sense a pickup in urgency on the sideline and on the field when the team realized what was going on. I really saw the leaders on the team step up and lead this team to victory.

CN: On the other hand, why weren't the offense and defense more consistent?

Montgomery: Both sides of the ball played well when it counted in the second half. The consistency was lacking at the beginning of the game, but as the game continued the coaches figured out what areas we could be successful in and focused on those aspects. The defense realized that you can't sit back and let other people make the plays you have step up and make them yourself.

The offense was very inconsistent running the ball until we wore down the front seven in the second half. I was very impressed with the passing abilities of both quarterbacks, but I believe that Austin showed more consistency.

CN: Where did the problems lie in ISU's inability to run the ball consistently?

Montgomery: It wasn't specifically one person the whole time; it was different people on all of the plays that missed one block, and their man made the tackle. This is the problem that we have had for the last couple of years. One person misses their block on two or three plays, and if everyone on the line does that we have 10 to 15 bad running plays during a game.

When you only run the ball 25 to 30 times and on 10 to 15 of these plays a defender is running free, it is really hard to have a great running game. The offensive line will hit the practice field these next two weeks work on the technique and improve their consistency.

CN: How would you grade the play of first-year starters Kory Pence and Brian Lutter, who played side by side on the O-line?

Montgomery: From what I can see of these two players, I am really happy with their effort. Both made great strides from last week. I didn't see too many of Kory or Brian's men running free on many plays. They both will agree that they have a long way to go to reach their potential, and they will work their tails off to get there.

CN: Is it time for Austin Flynn to return to his starting quarterback role? Why or why not?

Montgomery: I like both Austin and Bret (Meyer), but I believe that experience is the biggest factor when trying to win games. I have seen Bret make some tremendous plays so far this year, but Austin's confidence due to one year of playing in the Big 12 really stands out when he is on the field. That is why I believe he has earned his starting job back.

CN: Explain what having receivers like Todd Blythe and Jon Davis can do for an offense. What part of their games make it tough on defenses?

Montgomery: There are not too many teams that have two great receivers that are 6'4" and 6'5". Both of these guys are big, physical, and fast. They tower over most of the cornerbacks and safeties in the country, and can outrun a majority of them. If you add Todd Miller's abilities to these two we can see a great receiving corps forming. The presence of these receivers allows the defense to focus on the pass and maybe loosen up some running lanes for Stevie Hicks.

CN: How big is this victory going into a bye week and Big 12 season in two weeks?

Montgomery: I know that the players are happy about the win, due to the fact that they will have a couple of more days off during this week. This win also boosts the confidence of the Cyclones heading into the start of the Big 12 season. This shows the team that they can come back from a steep deficit and win a ball game. The win will also allow Mac to lighten up practice slightly this week, and allow his team to be rested and healed for Okie State.

CN: What were bye-week practices like during your playing days? What are some of the differences between those and game-week practices?

Montgomery: Bye week practices are similar to practices during spring ball. A good amount of ones vs. ones and fundamental work. A bye week is a good week to evaluate some game film, and figure out where you can improve. During bye weeks the focus is more on the basics and less on the next opponent's schemes.

CN: What are some of the areas of focus for this team heading into the bye week?

Montgomery: The offensive line play will be a primary focus over the next week, while the defense will attempt to shore up some of the let downs from Saturday. Another focus will be sustaining the intensity level on both sides of the ball. We have seen both sides of the ball play very well at times this season, but Mac and his staff will always find room for improvement.

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