On Campus: ISU Offense...Not Too Shabby

Only scoring 16 points against a UNLV team that gave up over 35 points per game a year ago certainly makes you scratch your head. The ISU offense wasn't supposed to have that much trouble. Maybe UNLV has improved that much with the transfers and new talent? Maybe this ISU offense isn't as lethal as we led to believe? Or, maybe this offense is that good, but it just didn't show on the scoreboard.

There is no doubt in my mind that this offense is poised to do big things even after scoring only three points in the second half. In fact, ISU's offense is better already than at any time in the last three plus years and is ready to burst. Don't believe me…..Read on.

 

Now, before you call me nuts and admit me into the crazy house along with Tom Cruise and Mike Sanford, let me explain myself. Iowa State has only scored an average of 20.5 points in regulation in their first two games. But, as I've watched the first two contests, I was struck with the fact that the Cyclones have seemingly moved the ball very easily. And they have done it with a good mix of run and pass. After checking the numbers, my belief has been verified.

 

Think about this: In last week's game against UNLV, Iowa State amassed 340 yards. Not terrible, but nothing to write home about. However, they achieved this in a miniscule 58 plays, their lowest total number of plays since the embarrassment against Oklahoma in 2002. (ISU ran 45 plays for a putrid 60 yards in that game. A game that still makes me reach for the air sickness bag. Bad thoughts. Bad thoughts.)

 

So, for you engineers and mathematicians, 340/58 equates to roughly 5.9 yards a play.

 

To put that in perspective, Iowa State has eclipsed the 5.9 yards per play barrier four other times since Seneca Wallace left town: Last October against Texas A&M, 2004 against Nebraska, 2003 against Ohio, and two weeks ago against Toledo. So, in essence, two of the best five offensive performances in the last three plus years have come in the first two weeks of 2006.

 

To expand on this point further, Iowa State hasn't had back to back weeks of 5.9 yards or better since the Kansas and Tennessee Tech games in 2002.

 

I know what you're thinking, "I could give a rat's posterior about yards, if Iowa State can't score." Point taken. But, this offense has been more dominant than we are giving them credit for. It is estimated that the new clock rules have equated to roughly 10 percent less plays than from a year ago. Points and total yards will be down due to that.

 

Iowa State also had three drive killing penalties and one costly pick that more than likely would have meant at least 14 more points on the board against the Rebels.

 

Iowa State was driving at the UNLV 39 with 9:00 left in the 1st when Meyer was picked.

 

Iowa State had a 2nd and 6 at the UNLV 39 with 2:00 left in the 1st when Scott Fisher was called for an ill-advised 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty, killing momentum.

Iowa State had a 2nd and 8 on from their own 34 in their first 3rd quarter drive, when

Aaron Brant was whistled for a hold on a play that resulted in a first down, thwarting the drive.

 

And in their first and final drive of the fourth quarter, Aaron Brant was called for a false start on the first play, setting the Cyclones back again and forcing an eventual punt.

 

The lesson being, the Iowa State offense has been much better than the scoreboard has shown. Once they correct some of the mental errors, they should reach the level we all expect them to. And they have been effective mostly without a contribution from the lethal, lanky #1.

 

-Also of note, Iowa State has rushed for over 100 yards and passed for over 200 in both of the first two games. They only did that three times a year ago.

 

-Iowa State has won seven straight when Stevie Hicks rushes for over 100 yards, and are 8-2 all time when Stevie surpasses the century mark.

 

-Stevie's 109 yards marked the 18th time a Cyclone rusher has gone over the 100 yard plateau in the past five seasons. In the previous six years before that (1995-2001), ISU ball-carriers went over the 100 yard mark a ridiculous 53 times.

 

Cy-Hawk Dominance

 

By now, we all know the big statistics: ISU has won six of the last eight games against Iowa, and three of four in Kinnick. Those stats never get old. But, after looking a little closer at the numbers in previous contests, you realize the true domination that Iowa State has displayed in the last eight meetings.

 

Iowa State has won the yardage battle six times; Iowa only once. The two teams, oddly enough, each ran 79 plays for 323 yards last year.

 

The Cyclones have had an average of 90 yards more per game in the last eight meetings and four times out-gained the Hawks by over 150 yards.

 

The vaunted Iowa defense has held ISU to under 300 yards only two times since Coach Mac has been at Iowa State (2004, 1996) and have never held the Cyclones to under 10 points.

 

Let's hope for the same potent output on Saturday.

 

Game On.


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