CYlentBob - Putting Lipstick on a Pig

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Howdy, CN.  I'm Russ, and I live in Winterset.  You might remember some of my previous work from the 2005 Big 12 basketball tournament & the 2004 Independence Bowl.  This will be a continuation of my previous writing – strictly non-professional observations from an ISU fan in the stands. 


If you're wondering "What the heck is that picture?" I'd like to introduce BOBBY TRIPPE, our tailgating group's new mascot.  My wife was at an estate auction last spring where "Bobby" was an item and she made the mistake of calling me to see if she should buy him.  While she waited for the auctioneers to get to that table, I called around & obtained pledges from the rest of our merry band to help out with the cost.  Needless to say, we won the auction, and he now proudly sits on the side of our friends' bus at all ISU home games.   We've decided to add one additional piece of "flair" to Bobby at each game he makes it to, so hopefully by the end of the season he's going to look like a cross between Minnie Pearl and Cyndi Lauper.  That's cool, because Bobby's all about the attention.


I'll save my attempts at serious analysis for future articles, and concentrate on the UNIQUE gameday experience that the University of Nevada, Las Vegas "Whining Webels" gave the ISU fanbase last Saturday.


We didn't tailgate at the Toledo game, for several reasons, but we did make it to the game.  I've already covered my thoughts on that game in my post on the premium board, but to recap:  I thought we played sloppy on both sides of the ball, but considering that our opponent was a formidable foe & our defense is breaking in EIGHT new starters, I thought the mistakes were reasonable.  The crowd seemed to get into the game when ISU needed a boost, but I did hear some booing when the offense stalled late in the second half, and especially when OVERTIME was announced.  Thank God we got that monkey off our backs.


Ever since we started tailgating with the bus, we've done our pre-game staging at my sister-in-law's house in Huxley.  My wife and I left Winterset at about 10:30 on Saturday, and we were expecting to quickly throw our gear onto the bus & head for Ames in order to hit the lots at noon.  Wrong!  The bus had mechanical issues and didn't leave Independence until 12:30, so we had to wait until after 2:30 to meet in Ames & head over to the public lots.  We really wanted to get into the lot East of Elwood, but we had to settle for the NE corner of the lot right across from the entrance to Vet Med.  The grills came out, the brats were cooked, and the beer was chilled.  Not a bad day, considering the way it began.  I called Cowboyclone & grayer to check in and notify them of our location, and we were off to the races.


About 5:30, we decided to head to the game.   We got to our seats in the West upper deck just after the National Anthem and anxiously waited for the opening kickoff.  Uh-oh.  Let's just say that our reaction to the kickoff coverage was………. LESS than enthusiastic.  If we cover kicks against the Hawkeyes next week like we covered them against the "Whining Webels" of UNLV, it's going to be a LONG weekend in Iowa City. 


After the defense shut down UNLV's first drive, the ISU offense came out going 90 miles an hour with their hair on fire.  We thought that a touchdown was imminent, but unfortunately Meyer let a pass to Blythe float a little too much.  Interception UNLV.  Ouch, that would hurt.  This is the point in the game when I usually get my flask out & start drinking.  Not today, I've gotta drive home tonight, so I'm on short rations where alky-hol is concerned.  Our defense did hold UNLV to one field goal in the first half, despite the mistakes, so the urge to drink quickly passed. 


By halftime, I was convinced that we were gonna open up a sooper-sized can of whoop-arse on the "Whining Webels" in the second half based on the way we finished the second quarter.  Meyer did a good job of managing the clock (even though I was screaming at the field "USE A FREAKIN' TIMEOUT, IDIOTS" during the minute or so of gametime before Kock scored the second touchdown).  The muffed extra point didn't even ruffle my feathers, and I settled in to watch the halftime show.  It was cool to see a player from my era be inducted into the Hall of Fame (Keith Sims), and I thought the band did a good job with their "Salute to Disney Music".  After the band left the field, I watched Shaggy kick field goals from both hash marks.  It looks like he really improved his leg strength in the offseason (that FG against Toledo might have been good from 55 yards).  I hope the staff gives him a chance to hit a long one in a non-critical situation sometime soon.  I'm really wishing for a breakout year in '06, because Shaggy deserves it.  I guess the person in charge of music from the PA system read of my disapproval, because most of the offending songs were omitted this time ("Sweet Caroline" isn't out of bounds – it worked really well when we were all waiting for the replay officials to finish their decision in the 4th quarter), with Bon Jovi replacing John Denver.  Not a bad trade, if you ask me.


In the second half, we followed the usual script.  Offensive anemia, combined with bad field position, gave UNLV a chance to get back in the game.  Once again, we played a team down to the wire instead of putting them away early & getting Van Winkle some valuable PT.  I'm torn.  I see the value of close games in that our guys buckled down and withstood the late push by their opponents, but I also realize that putting teams away early gives us a chance to play reserves and experiment with some different plays & formations.  I'd love to see us open up the playbook a little bit (and maybe get the ball to Blythe, since he is an all-American, after all), but right now we're 2-0.  That's something.


After the game, I had to stick around for the whole sordid show.  I've never seen a coach do such a perfect impersonation of Lt. Commander Queeg.  He tried to use "perfect geometric precision" to prove that Dan McCarney and the Iowa State Cyclones were the only ones who could have stolen the strawberries from the freezer in the visitor's locker room.  While the coaches were pouting in front of the assembled media, I saw some of the players tear off their helmets, hold their hands up as if they'd scored a touchdown, and even shout taunts at the Iowa State fans sitting behind their bench.  They stayed on the field for what seemed like 20-25 minutes until their subgenius coach finally decided that holding his breath & stomping his feet wouldn't change the results shown on the scoreboard.  What a bunch of idiots.  I'm sorry, but if any of our players did something as stupid as this, I'd hope that they'd have their scholarships revoked and be sent packing to Division III before the last echoes of their stupid taunts died out in the stadium.  There's no place for this crap in college football, and these guys will henceforth be referred to as the "Whining Webels" in my book.  Here's a tip for the scoreboard operator:  Get a copy of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" on DVD, and if a blatant display of jackassery like this ever happens again at Iowa State, play the scene following the credits on the big board with the volume cranked up to ELEVEN!  Idiots.  I hope they go 1-11 this season, then slide into a MAJOR LEAGUE losing streak that rivals Prairie View A&M's epic streak of futility.


When we got back to the bus after UNLV finally decided to go home, we found that some jerk stole a case of beer from a friend's cooler.  We've had a few things stolen from our vehicles in the lots over the years, and it always makes me mad when it happens again.  We pulled out the coolers we'd stashed on the bus & locked away (most of us have learned) & had leftover brats and ice cold beer until the lots cleared out enough to get the bus back on the road.  Two hours later, we're back in Winterset, and I'm trying to organize my thoughts and put this article together. 


          My bullet points for the night?


  1. Ryan Baum once again gets a pass on the overall ass chewing Mac probably laid on the team in the postgame locker room.  I can hear him now:  "Baum, hit the showers.  The rest of you need to sit down & listen the hell up right now!"
  2. Parker looked good once again, and his good plays outnumbered his mistakes this time.  He's shaping up quickly, and I hope he turns out to be the player that Jason Berryman should have been.
  3. Blythe seemed to be OK with our win, even though he didn't catch a single pass.  He doesn't seem to be a prima donna in the style of T.O. or Barry Bonds, but that doesn't mean we should keep him off the stat sheets for another game.  I don't want our coaches to OVERemphasize getting the ball to Blythe because that just puts more pressure on Meyer.  They shouldn't have to say anything; Meyer KNOWS that Blythe is money.  He just needs to get over his slump and get the ball into the hands of his All-American wide receiver.
  4. When your starting running back is tearing up the opposition for mucho yardage, why would you put his backup into the game at a critical point?  I like the idea of giving Scales some PT to give him his confidence back, but why not give him the ball for a series when we're closer to midfield?  The only ISU players who should have been carrying the ball at that point in the game were Meyer, Hicks or Kock.  That's the short list.
  5. I liked the performance of the receivers, but Meyer seemed to be slightly out of phase throwing the ball.  Several passes were catchable, but the receivers had to extend themselves to make the catch, sacrificing any additional yards they might have squeezed out if they had gotten the passes placed better.
  6. Our defense seems to be shaping up nicely, but they're going to have to kick it up a notch if we're going to beat Iowa, Texas or Nebraska.  I'd be an idiot to say that a defense giving up an average of 16.5 points per game (not counting OT) is awful, but the quality of the offenses we're going to be facing is going to improve quickly now that we're into the serious portion of our schedule.  Overall, I'd give the defense a solid "B", but that's an early grade, and the first big test is coming at them fast.  They're outperforming the offense right now, but that's faint praise considering the problems we're having on the offensive side of the ball.


Iowa's up next and I'll be traveling to Iowa City to watch the game in person.  My friend with the bus is going to try and find a place to park it in Iowa City (I don't think he's ever been to a game in Iowa City if he thinks he's going to find a place closer than North Liberty to park an Iowa State bus on gameday).   I think we've got a good chance to win that game, even if Tate comes out at 100%, but we'll have to get our passing game back on track & have enough confidence in our secondary to play tighter coverage on Iowa's tight ends and receivers running crossing patterns.  Iowa fans will bluster & blow about 40 point wins, but we know that deep down in the darkest parts of their black, black hearts, they know Iowa State owns them lock, stock & barrel.  All the talk about "January Bowl games" (isn't the Humanitarian Bowl a January Bowl game now?) is just an attempt to divert us from the fact that Iowa State no longer fears the road trip to Iowa City.  In the words of Jamaal Tinsley…… It's Just Another Stadium. 

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