Football Insider: Army Post-Game

With time to reflect on and review the Cyclone triumph, former offensive lineman Luke Vander Sanden evaluates the ISU effort against Army.

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.



How about some overall comments on the Cyclones 28-21 victory over Army?


The game this past Friday night against a determined Army team was definitely a nail biter for the Iowa State Football family.  I thought that the Clones got some things going their way in the second half.  Some guys stepped up and made plays, and we had a huge break on a facemask penalty that gave the Cyclones a first down.  That was huge!



In some ways do you feel that Iowa State plays to the level of their opponents? We saw sluggish play against Illinois State and Army and a very intense, physical team against Iowa.


I hate to say that they play to the level of their opponents.  It is hard to argue that point though.  You can look and say that yes, Iowa State should have dominated Illinois State.  The outcome…A four quarter game.  You can look at the Iowa State-Iowa game and say Iowa is grand and almighty.  The outcome…An onslaught by Iowa State.  You have to remember that the Iowa State/Iowa game is always an intense, physical ball game, no matter how good each team is. 


This past weekend, who would have thought Iowa State would have been put in a situation to make a unbelievable comeback to win the game?  I sure didn't think it was going to turn out that way.  The outcome against Army… A miraculous come from behind 7 point victory. 


Saying this, who is to say that Iowa is a dominating team?  They haven't scored a touchdown on offense this year yet against a BCS school.  So it is hard to say that Iowa State is playing down to its competition.  Just how good are Army, Illinois State, and Iowa?  What I do know is that Iowa State will need to bring their A game for four quarters against a hungry Nebraska team.



What does this victory do for Iowa State as it prepares for the beginning of the Big 12 season?


I think this victory definitely prepares Iowa State to go on the road.  As a former player, road games are your team against the world.  I always thought it was a good feeling because it is great to go into someone else's house and grab a W.  Iowa State will head into practices learning that they cannot let a situation like at Army happen.  It will be too difficult for any team in the Big 12 to make a comeback playing flat like the Cyclones did. 


I think the players will be anxious going into the Big 12 opener against Nebraska.  Iowa State has all the intangibles to be a great team in the Big 12 North.  It comes down to preparation, focus, and determination.  I look for Saturday to be a good, hard fought battle.  Nebraska is seeking to get the bragging rights back after a four quarter game in Ames in 2004.



What were your thoughts of the defensive performance on Friday night?


Honestly, I was surprised how well Army was able to establish their running game.  I thought that Army's offense was out to make a statement.  I thought they did that on Friday night.  Nik Moser went out with an injury in the game and his presence off the field was definitely noticed.  I thought that DeAndre Jackson picked his game up and may have had a career game.  I was surprised how well Army's offensive line opened up holes. 


As a defense unit that has to worry Coach Skladany on Friday night what happened.  I am not worried though.  Trust me, Coach Skladany will get it corrected and coached.  It looked as if guys over-pursued their gaps, as well as missed tackles.  Any time your defense does that, there are going to be creases for the offense to break some long runs.



We saw first hand how penalties can change the whole outcome of the game. Talk about the facemask penalty when Bret Meyer was being sacked and ISU got the first down instead of having to punt the ball. Was that the biggest play of the game?


I think the facemask penalty against Army was the biggest play of the game.  Iowa State's offense looked as if it was struggling to produce all night long.  Who is to say that if that penalty wouldn't have happened that Iowa State scores??  Any time there are penalties, they definitely take a toll on the team committing them.  It just so happened that the facemask penalty gave Iowa State a first down to continue the drive.



What kinds of things does McCarney do regarding penalties? The announcers mentioned he breaks down tape of the penalties for the team to watch on Sunday. Is there any discipline for being called for a penalty?


There is some discipline regarding committing penalties. Without giving any direction on the game plan, penalties are all about focus and discipline.  As a former player, you never want to commit a penalty because you are letting your teammates down as well as your coaches.  If you commit a penalty in a game, it will get addressed in meetings and corrected in practice.



Talk about the play of Ryan Kock; he's been on a touchdown tear heading back to the Independence Bowl.


I have known Ryan Kock since he came his senior year of high school to workout with the team.  He is a small town farm kid.  From living with him, he is a very competitive man, and he is a team player.  When Ryan gets the chance to carry the ball, he makes sure that he makes the most of it.  I would have to say he is one of the most valuable players on the squad up to this point of the season.  He takes the approach that he will not get denied short of the end zone.  He is definitely a fun player to watch.  He reminds me a lot like Mike Alstott from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Just a tough, touch sucker!



The rushing game again struggled, 77 yards total, compared to Army's Carlton Jones who had 122 rushing yards. Where would you pinpoint the problem there? Was there one single factor or is it a combination of the ISU o-line, the running backs or the Army defense?


I am not the one to point a finger.  The hogs up front definitely determine the outcome of football games.  Iowa State's running game was not very impressive versus Army on Friday night.  It was disappointing to see Army's defensive line that averaged around 260 pounds cause a nightmare for Bret Meyer and the offensive line.  I think the offensive line just had bad technique, and they weren't a focused group of men playing for each other.  Coach Cotton will get it fixed, I promise you that.  It also doesn't help out any when one of the best running backs in the Big 12 goes out of the game with an injury.  Stevie Hicks presence on offense definitely powers the Cyclone's offense.



DeAndre Jackson had a big night, returning two kicks for a total of 125 yards along with an interception. Is he starting to remind you of Ellis Hobbs?


I don't think anyone will ever fill the shoes of Ellis Hobbs.  Ellis was a special young man that everyone looked up to.  He played through pain, was inspirational, was caring, and is the definition of a specimen and a football player.


DeAndre definitely played a MVP type game on Friday.  He has a great vision of the football field and has wheels to make big plays.  I think he shows inklings of Ellis, but he will make his mark as DeAndre Jackson.  I need to see some consistency week in and week out from DeAndre to start making comparisons to Ellis Hobbs.  Don't get me wrong, DeAndre is a darn good football player, and I am glad we have him on our side!!



Depending on the severity of Stevie Hicks' injury, if he's not ready to go for Nebraska, how does that change the game plan and perhaps outcome of that game?


I don't know if I would say Stevie's absence from this Saturday's game will change the outcome.  It is called other guys rising to the occasion and stepping up.  Like I said earlier, Stevie's presence on the field definitely makes the Cyclones better on offense.  I thought that Greg Coleman did a nice job filling in for Stevie on Friday night at Army.  If Stevie is not ready, look for guys to step up and rise to the occasion.  Coaches always said, "You never know when your number will be called…So be ready."



Which Cyclones will we see against Nebraska, the team that played Iowa or the one that played Friday night against Army?


I think we will see a determined Cyclone football team.  Playing at Lincoln is definitely a hostile environment.  I think the game Saturday versus the Cornhuskers will definitely be a physical one.  I don't think Nebraska has seen a football team with the caliber like Iowa State yet this season.  I will have to say that we will not see the football team that played Army.  We will see a competitive football game with a lot of pride on the line.  I think that there is definitely a start of a new rivalry in the Big 12 between Nebraska and Iowa State.  Who wants to be the New Big Red of 2005?  It should be an exciting one to watch either in Lincoln or on ABC.



Give us an idea of what the postgame locker room must have been like. What message did McCarney give the players about the Army game and remaining focused for Nebraska?


Coach Mac definitely was happy for his team for showing character and resiliency against a determined Army squad.  I am sure that he told the team that it wasn't pretty against Army, but a win is a win.  It is better winning ugly than losing pretty. 


I am sure that Coach Mac told his guys that they made a lot of mistakes in the game that they can learn from.  He told them he was happy with the character and heart they showed in the second half.  Coach Mac probably told his players to enjoy the win, but come back to practice focused, and ready to work hard.


Good luck to Iowa State this week, and I will definitely be watching for a victory by the Clones!!

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