Football Insider: Iowa Post-Game

It's the Cyclone State for the sixth time in eight years, after Iowa State's 23-3 win over Iowa on Saturday. With time to reflect on and review the Cyclone triumph, former offensive lineman Luke Vander Sanden evaluates the ISU effort.

Luke Vander Sanden was an offensive lineman on the ISU football team from 2000-2004. The Inwood native was a two-time academic all-Big 12 first team performer and won the ISU all-around Academic Achievement Award in 2003. On the grid iron, Vander Sanden was an honorable mention all-Big 12 selection his senior season and was one of Iowa State's four team captains on the 2004 Independence Bowl championship squad.

First your overall thoughts on Iowa State's 23-3 win over No. 8 Iowa.


What can I say?  What a great team effort! People may say that the game didn't live up to the hype, but Iowa State came out fast, furious and ready to take back the state bragging rights.  This is Mac's first win over a top 10 program, and I think the first for Iowa State since 1992.  Iowa State managed to rattle Drew Tate as well as Jason Manson.  I thought the Iron Curtain Iowa State Defense did a terrific job!  Forcing five turnovers against a good Iowa team is outstanding.  Iowa State definitely out played, out coached and wanted this game more than the Hawkeyes.



Where would this win rank on the list of huge ones during head coach Dan McCarney's tenure? Explain your reasoning.


I would have to say that the Iowa State-Iowa game of 2005 definitely has to rank towards the top in Mac's tenure at Iowa State.  We are talking about a win against a stingy Iowa Hawkeye team that had not lost a game since last year to Michigan.  We are talking about an Iowa team that has beaten Iowa State in close games the past two years.  We are talking about an Iowa team that has finished in the top 10 in the nation the past couple of years. 


I think this says a lot about Coach Mac and his Cyclones of 2005.  I think this win could be a pivotal mark on where Iowa State's season will drive.  As a former player, it is always hard to swallow a loss to Iowa.  I think Mac and the Cyclones of 2005 definitely deserve the respect of the state of Iowa, as well as the respect of the nation of college football.



Nik Moser mentioned that he saw you on the sidelines. What was it like as a former Cyclone player being down there, seeing Stevie Hicks and Terrance Highsmith take back the Cy-Hawk trophy?


It was definitely a great feeling to see my former teammates run across to the Iowa bench to claim and bring back the Cy-Hawk trophy.  I remember three years ago in Ames when Iowa snapped Iowa State's five game winning streak.  The final buzzer sounded.  I remember Robert Gallery and Grant Steen running across to our bench to get the Cy-Hawk trophy.  My teammates and I were devastated and disgusted.  It was one of those moments that you hate to remember, but it has never left my memory.  I wish it would fade away, but you learn and self-motivate from those games. 


Nik Moser definitely knows how important this game is.  I am so happy for Nik, as well as the rest of the 2005 Cyclones on claiming state bragging rights.  This is absolutely a memory that they will cherish for the rest of their lives.  Winning against Iowa will definitely propel them for the next game, as well as the rest of the season.  I can't express in words how happy I am for the Cyclones.  It is just fabulous. 



How long will the win carry this team?


This win will carry the Cyclones throughout the season.  It will be a weekend celebration and the team will carry their heads high.  Once practice starts on Monday, Mac will have the team focused and moving on to the next one.  I have to say that this win definitely gives Iowa State confidence, high morale, and the drive to believe that the sky is the limit for their 2005 season.



Talk about the intensity we saw Saturday from the Cyclones. Will they be able to match that intensity even when they're playing a team like Baylor?


The Cyclones' game-time intensity was never close to being matched by the Hawkeyes.  This intensity will be evaluated by coaches and players alike on film.  I think that there are times that teams play to the level of their competition.  Coach Mac will not let this happen to the Cyclones this year; I promise you that.  As a former player, you always tell yourself not to be satisfied if you get up on a team big or you get down on a team.  There will be games when your team jumps on a team early.  You learn as a player to keep the throttle down on a team when that happens so you don't let them get back in the game.  You take the heart and drive out of a team when you do that to them. 


On the flip side, there will always be adversity in the game of football.  There might be penalties, turnovers, or a bad call.  What matters is how the players respond to that adversity.  Will the players go in the tank and let it cause a domino effect?  Or will players rise up to the occasion and attack the adversity and do something about it?  Coach Mac always talks about facing adversity in games.  You will never be in a game where there is no adversity.  Coach Mac will have the Cyclones ready for each game, regardless of who is on the schedule.



This defense continues to come up with big plays at crucial times, Steve Paris' interception and LaMarcus Hicks interception return for a touchdown. Break down those plays and the roles they had on getting the Cyclones in position to win.


The Iowa State defense is a great one!  I talked about last week how we should expect big things from Iowa State's defense this year.  I think last year's defense really came on as the season progressed.  The defense thus far this year has taken it to another level.  The players are ball hawks.  They have a nose for the ball and a nose for making big plays. 


Steve (Greedy) Paris' interception was a momentum shift.  Greedy is an aggressive player and he always is making big plays.  That interception stopped Iowa's offensive march and put our offense in position to drive the field.  LaMarcus Hicks' interception for a touchdown really put a dagger in Iowa players.  I can't say enough about LaMarcus.  He came to Iowa State from junior college and stepped in right away last year and made huge, huge plays.  He is a playmaker on the Iowa State defense and continues to spark Iowa State's defense with consistent play this year.  He is a gamer!


The defense forced five turnovers on Saturday.  The really put the Cyclones in position to win against a good Iowa team.  Our defensive line put pressure on Tate and Manson all day.  The defense flew around and put a physical imprint on Iowa players.  Iowa State's defense played more physical and tougher than Iowa's offense.  Iowa State wanted to win more.  They had the drive and the passion on Saturday.



When Drew Tate left the game, how did that change the nature of the game?


I don't think Drew Tate's exit from the game changed any part of the football game on Saturday.  Drew Tate never established anything on the offense while he was playing.  Iowa State's defense started the game fast and their presence was evident all day at Jack Trice.  The defensive line rattled Iowa's offensive line and Iowa's quarterback system all day long. 

I thought that Albert Young had some good holes.  He did rush well over 100 yards.  It was definitely a hot, long day for Iowa and their fans.  Hawkeye fans may say that the game would have been different if Drew Tate wouldn't have gotten knocked out of the game.  They might have said that if Drew Tate wouldn't have gotten hurt the Hawkeyes would have regrouped at halftime and put on a second half show. 


I thought that Manson looked better than Tate did on Saturday.  Tate never got anything established, and Manson did not get much established on the Hawkeye offense.  We are talking about a dominant Hawkeye offense in the past three years.  I am not taking anything away from Iowa's offense.  I just think that Iowa State has a great defense this year.  I look for them to be consistent all year and carry the Cyclones this year.



Talk about the improvement we witnessed from the offensive line, the holes just opened up for Stevie Hicks in the second half.


The offensive line definitely found the next gear in the second half.  I thought that the offense started off slow in the first half and they were trying to find a rhythm.  The Cyclone offense turned their game up in the second series of the third quarter.  Stevie Hicks turned his game up as well.  He physically ran guys over.  He kept his feet alive and driving.  The offensive line mowed holes open.  There were times when Stevie could choose between two or three different holes on zone plays.  That is a sign when you know you are winning the battle at the line of scrimmage. 


I continue to see great things out of Scott Stephenson.  He definitely has to turn the heads of opponents he is going against.  Scott is a player that will definitely have a chance to play on Sundays.  He is a physical one, and I can bet you that Coach Mac wouldn't trade him for any center in the country. 


I thought that Aaron Brant continues to step his game up.  Zehr definitely improved from week one to week two.  Kory Pence is a player who is a quiet leader, but he is a winner.  He is a blue-collar player.  As a whole, I was impressed with the offensive line play in the second half.  The goal for the offensive line against Army is simple.  Start the game how you started playing Iowa in the second half.  It is as simple as that.



What grade would you give the offense overall? Who were some key players for you Saturday?


I would give the Cyclone offense a B+ for their efforts on Saturday.  Like I mentioned earlier, I thought they started off slow.  The offense really turned it on and showed as much heart, pride, and the will to win in the second half.  I thought every player was a key player for the Cyclone offense in the second half. 


Stevie Hicks turned it up.  Austin Flynn continues to make his presence known on offense.  Scott Stephenson continues to play physical and dominate his opponents lined up across from him.  Walter Nickel is making his mark on the offense.  He is another threat in the passing game to opponents that defenses have to prepare for.  The last big threat at tight end Iowa State had was Mike Banks.  Nickel is not a big tight end and he will only develop into a good Iowa State tight end as the season progresses. Bret Meyer continues to lead the offense and march them down the field.  Just think how the outcome of the game would have been if the offense would have played all game like they played in the third and fourth quarter.  I said the sky is the limit for the defense.  Well, the sky is the limit for the offense. 



Can you put into words the high the Cyclones are now on? Is it now tough for ISU to temper that enthusiasm and get ready for Army in two weeks?


The Cyclones will definitely be on an emotional high for at least a week.  Like I mentioned earlier, Coach Mac will enjoy this with his team.  It has to be a great feeling going into a bye week after winning against your rival.  It gives this Cyclone another week to enjoy their win.  Coach Mac will have the team focused at practice this week even though it is a bye week.  A lot of people like to call it an off week outside of the football team.  It is not an off week.  It is still a work week.  I do not think that Iowa State will have trouble getting ready for Army in two weeks.  It gives Iowa State two weeks to prepare for Army. 


I don't think the Cyclones will have trouble tempering their enthusiasm.  The win on Saturday will just give Iowa State momentum and they will propel into the game against Army.  Mac will have them ready to go.  The Iowa game will be behind them.  They will enjoy the win from Saturday and get ready for the next one.



Is this a good time for ISU to have a bye-week? What things will they do in this off week to prepare for the Army game?


I think this is a great time for Iowa State to have a bye-week.  As a former player, I would dream to have a bye week after beating Iowa.  I can't imagine the feeling the players and coaches will have this coming week.  Anytime you win going into a bye-week the next week of practice always is fun.  It especially has to be a great feeling for the Cyclones after beating Iowa! 


I think this coming week will be a great week for Coach Mac to get his players rested.  Mac will take care of his team this week from a physical standpoint.  I also think this is a great week for Iowa State to work out kinks in their offense and defense.  This will also be a week for the coaches to evaluate the players.  I look for a good week for Coach Mac and his staff to evaluate a lot of the younger players on the Cyclone team of 2005.

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