Straight Shots From Welch Ave.

In this week's edition of Straight Shots From Welch Ave. CN's publisher talks about everything from ESPN's coverage of the battle for the Cy-Hawk trophy to breaking down the game itself. Was McCarney right to go for it on 4th & 10? Find out what Williams thinks right here at CN.

It's Only a Game


I won't lie. Even though I work in the media, I still get caught up in the heat of the game. I get caught up in the rivalry and it's still fun to me. I wanted the ‘Clones to win that game on Saturday as much, if not more, than anybody else. It's great to see your team win, and even better when you can shut Jon Miller up at the same time. (Just kidding buddy)


Watching Mike Klinkenborg after the game, made me realize how miniscule that this game actually is in life's grand scheme. Klinkenborg just buried his father three days ago, and he was on the field gutting it out and playing for a lot more than bragging rights or any trophy.


Klinkenborg was playing for his father. And he played with more heart than most of us can imagine. ESPN, in a somewhat Busch-league move, stuck the mic in Klinkenborg's face immediately following the game. Though I didn't really agree with how ESPN went about doing it, I still thank them for doing it.


Why? Because one player and his father showed the entire country watching the game that life is about a lot more than what happens on one Saturday out of the year. Life is precious, life is short, and most of all, life is priceless.


At the end of the day, it comes down to this. I love the Cyclones. I love everything about Iowa State University. I love them so much, but I love my father a lot more. It's no contest. Football is football and that's it. I think we all forget that every now and again.


Thank you Mike Klinkenborg for teaching myself, and hopefully many other people in the Cyclone Nation, that very same lesson. Our hopes and prayers go out to you and your classy family. 


The Game Itself


Now let's get down to the game itself. Iowa State did all of the things that everybody thought they had to do to pull off the road upset at Iowa on Saturday.


They had to run the football. – The Clones rushed for 171 yards while Stevie Hicks averaged five yards a carry.


They had to get off to a good start. – Before yesterday, in the last 16 match-ups of these schools, 14 times did the team leading after the first quarter go on to win the game, not on Saturday.


Iowa State had to contain Albert Young. – Young only ran for 57 yards on 18 carries averaging 3.2 YPC.


So what in the heck happened?


Nobody Knows


For the second week in a row, Iowa State's offense was completely unable to do anything in the second half. Why does this reoccurring theme keep happening? It's easy for fans to break down, but the reality is, the players and coaches don't know, so how could anybody else?


"I don't see guys gassed, I don't see them quitting, I don't see them with their heads down," McCarney told the media after the game on Saturday.


That's a true statement. Effort isn't the problem. The problem I see is simple: Iowa State has so many weapons, yet guys like R.J. Sumrall, Austin Flynn, and a guy by the name of Todd Blythe have seemed to be used as role players instead of the game breakers that they could be. Especially Blythe.


The Right Move?


If you didn't watch any ESPN on Saturday night, then you missed Mark May and Lou Holtz give Coach McCarney a black eye for his call to go for it on 4th and 10 with around five minutes to go in the game. 


I don't see why some are making a big deal about this call. Let's say that Iowa State punts the ball away in this situation. Sure, the defense had held Iowa on two drives before, but realize that the clock would have started immediately after the punt. So by the time Iowa would have run their first play, there would have been around 4:30 on the clock.


McCarney made the right, non-conservative call.


"Iowa had done a really good job of moving the chains and sometimes you have to go with your gut. I just had a lot of faith that we could make that play, I really did. I don't have any issues with going for it on fourth down; I've never been too worried about it in the past," McCarney said.


I love that mentality in that situation. Lou Holtz doesn't know this team's tendencies. Nobody knows this team better than McCarney. If he believed his team would convert, then at the end of the day, that's all that really matters.


Isn't that what fans want? I read message boards, I listen to talk shows. Fans want aggressiveness. That was extremely aggressive.


Fans always want McCarney to "step on the opponent's throat." Essentially, in a different way that's what McCarney did on this call. He realized that there was a gamble no matter what decision he made. Either punt the ball away and rely on your young, inexperienced defense on the road, or he could put the ball in the hands of his proven QB and let him try and win the game.


What would you do? I would have done the exact same thing.


Use This Loss


Let's be honest, there aren't many positives that you can ever take from losing a football game. Sure, you can build on good things that you saw during the game, but at the end of the day a loss is a loss, no matter who it's against.


But hear me out on this one. Let's learn a lesson from our neighbors in Iowa City. Iowa got blown out of the water a year ago in Ames. They could have rolled over and died, but they didn't. They pulled together as a team, turned their season around and ended up playing on New Year's Day.  


Last year's loss for Iowa was a lot more devastating than this one for the ‘Clones. Iowa was a top ten team that got killed. Iowa State was a 14 point dog.


Why can't the ‘Clones do the same thing? The Big 12 is terrible, we've yet to see the offense even scratch the surface and the young defense is getting better and better every single week.


The point is this. Every year, Iowa fans talk about how the Iowa State game doesn't mean that much and how they'd rather win the Big 10 than beat Iowa State. Instead of degrading that attitude, we should learn something from it.


The Big 12 North is wide open. Colorado is terrible. Kansas State is the worst 3-0 team in the history of football and Nebraska is definitely NOT back in my opinion. Missouri and Kansas are both coming to Ames, essentially leaving the door wide open for Iowa State to play in it's first ever Big 12 Championship game.


I know you hate to hear it, but let's learn from what Iowa has done. Let's now focus on the Big 12, because it's anybody's ball game. This was tabbed the "Season of Opportunity," and plenty of chances await.


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