Football Insider: Oklahoma State Post-Game

With time to reflect on and review the Cyclones 37-10 homecoming win over Oklahoma State, former offensive lineman Luke Vander Sanden evaluates the ISU effort against the Cowboys.

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 huge homecoming victory?


As Coach Mac would say, "How bout them Cyclones!!"  What a great team victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday.  I was thoroughly impressed with the team effort and the drive to win that the Cyclones displayed in Jack Trice.  This win puts the Cyclones right back in the hunt for the Big 12 North race.  The win against the Cowboys also gives the Cyclones some confidence going to Kyle Field in Aggieland this coming Saturday.  The Cyclones running game did not let down for two weeks straight, which was impressing.  David Brown, a former walk-on, now on scholarship, ran the ball well at running back.  It seems like we are in the same driver's seat that Iowa was last year in terms of the running back situation.  As a coach, it has to be a great feeling to see a guy step in and get the job done like Brown did on Saturday.


I was also impressed with the defense on Saturday against the Cowboys.  The defense forced five turnovers, one fumble, and three interceptions.  Any time your defense puts on a show like the Cyclones did Saturday, you are putting your team in a great position to win ball games.  It is all about ball security on offense, and takeaways on defense.  It probably sounds repetitive week to week, but look how it affected the outcome of the game. 



Give us an idea of what the locker room must have felt like in the minutes following the final whistle, finally getting back on track.

The locker room was certainly filled with smiles, joy, and enthusiasm.  I am sure the Cyclones definitely felt the confidence in the locker room, and could see it in each other's eyes.  It is always good to get a job done that you work on so hard all week.  All the lifting, all the meetings, all the preparation-it sure feels good when you see the results on Saturdays.  After every game the Cyclones always meet and call it up with Coach Mac in the locker room.  There is not a worse feeling than calling it up after getting beat.  On the other hand, there is no greater feeling that seeing the look in Coach Mac's eyes after a win.  You give thanks as a team, and then you celebrate by singing the fight song.  It just gives me thrills up my spine picturing it.  130 men shouting at the top of their lungs, shooting water from water bottles through the air.  It is just a special feeling after a big win in the Cyclone locker room.



Talk about the big plays from the defense, it's been a couple games since we saw the unit step up with some key INTs. What defensive strategy did John Skladany incorporate against the Cowboys?


Coach Skladany incorporates the same defense in terms of identity-wise year-to-year.  Coach stresses the importance of running to the football, gang tackling, and relentless effort.  One thing that always seems to be a constant of Coach Skladany's unit is forcing turnovers.  I think that it is really fun, and all the Cyclones fans would agree with me, to see the defense forcing a number of turnovers each game.  The defensive secondary on this year's squad really has a nose for the football; a very hungry attitude to get the ball back for the offense.  We saw the past two weeks of quarterbacks throwing short three-step drop passes all over the secondary.  This past Saturday, all we saw was a determined secondary that was focusing on their keys and executing. 



Iowa State has tons of talented wide receivers, talk about the emergence of freshman RJ Sumrall both as a wide receiver and punt returner.

RJ Sumrall is definitely a poised receiver; all he does is keep his mouth shut and make plays.  I guarantee Coach Mac would tell you the same thing.  RJ isn't the fastest receiver in the league, but he is definitely a valuable weapon for Barney Cotton and Bret Meyer.  The thing that sticks out the most to me about Sumrall is that he is consistent from week-to-week and he makes plays all the time.  Making plays all the time like he does is all about confidence and focus.  It is easy to criticize receivers from the stands for dropping balls.  I mean we are talking about receivers doing a short slant route across the middle.  Guess what is there?  240 pound linebackers ready to deliver the blow.  Receivers running their slant routes always have to keep their eye on the quarterback not knowing what is going to happen when they catch the ball.  All they can do is hear footsteps and catch the ball.  RJ definitely exemplifies this.  Sumrall is definitely a possession receiver and it is good to see him having a consistent season as a Cyclone.



What was your evaluation of the special teams? We saw some good returns from DeAndre Jackson and a couple long kicks from Bret Culbertson?

Was that Ellis Hobbs back there returning kicks on Saturday?  No wait, he was back in street clothes on the sideline visiting.  Wow.  What can you say about DeAndre Jackson!?  He just keeps getting better each week and helps the football team tremendously.  He looked like Ellis back there returning kicks.  It is so crucial to get big kickoff returns.  It provides your offense with good field position and definitely helps instills a spark for the offense to get points up on the board.  It is important not to forget the rest of the kickoff return team that paves the way for Jackson to get a good return.  Coach Tony Alford does a great job with the kick return unit. 



What areas do you think the Cyclones need to solidify as the season comes down to the wire?

I just think the Cyclone offense needs to take care of the football and the defense needs to continue to get turnovers.  The other big thing that needs to happen for the Cyclones to solidify the season as it comes down to the wire is not to play too high emotionally or play too low.  Coaches always talk about how it is not good to ride a roller coaster in terms of emotions.  For a successful finish the season, the Cyclones need to play consistent football and let things fall into place.  Doing that, the Cyclones will put themselves in good position to have the kind of season that I know they want to and are capable to have.



What does this victory do for Iowa State as it prepares for the stretch run in the Big 12?

It gives the Cyclones a good, winning taste in their mouths, as well as confidence for each upcoming game.


If you had to predict Iowa State's final four games, how does their season play out?

I don't think I can put a win-loss ratio out there for you.  Sure, it would be great to win out the rest of the games this season.  But let's be realistic, we can't look into a genie bottle ask see what the outlook for the rest of the season is for the Cyclones.  There could be injuries on teams' rosters, there could be guys coming back from injuries, there could be brutal weather conditions, etc.  What I can tell you is that the Cyclones of 2005 control their destiny.  It is all about playing consistent "Cyclone Football" on Saturdays!

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