Putting Lipstick on a Pig - Week 3

OK, we lost the game. For those of you who pay attention to current events, this is no news flash, but just in case I've got a cult of followers who read nothing in the media but my fan's perspective on ISU football, I thought I'd better make that clear up front. If you're only reading this to find out who won, you can go ahead and log off, because you don't have to skip to the end anymore.

Our group's bus made the trip down from Independence, and "Bobby" was a big hit with Cyclones & Hawkeyes alike.  Hogfarmer decided to mount him on the front of the bus above the window to minimize the amount of damage passersby could do to him, and since the bus was parked right up against Melrose on the Finkbine golf course, he was out there for the world to see.  Hogfarmer got into town at about 5:30 and he says he beat the rush by the skin of his teeth.  He told me five minutes after he parked the bus Melrose went from an empty street to a rolling parking lot.  By the time we got there at 7:45, cars were moving about a block every five or 10 minutes.  Not exactly the Dan Ryan Expressway, but it does make you appreciative of the parking situation in Ames.

 

My wife and I went over Friday night & stayed with my sister's family.  We got up early on Saturday morning & brought cinnamon rolls and OJ for the tailgate, getting there just in time for me to snarf up the last slice of bacon.  Hoggy's wife Pam was running the griddle, and she was turning out pancakes that were AT LEAST three-quarters of an inch thick.  Those really hit the spot, and the OJ performed double duty as a healthy breakfast drink AND a mix partner for the vodka sitting on the back seat of the bus.

 

Our bus was surrounded by Hawkeyes, but there were three other ISU buses parked within 100 feet of us.  We soon became celebrities among our part of the lot, since we were the only bus with a bathroom.  We let all the womenfolk who asked use the bathroom, and pointed towards a group of trees west of the bus whenever a guy asked to use the facilities.  It didn't matter if they were Hawks or Clones; part of being a man is the ability to take a leak darn near anywhere, and we don't want to encourage unmanly behavior, now do we?

 

We left the bus at about 9:50 and made our way down Melrose to the stadium.  I had read on another website that John Kerry was going to be at a tailgate on Olive Court.  Normally, my politics would NOT allow me to be in the vicinity of this particular democratic presidential candidate while a little hooch is running through my veins, but the article I saw mentioned that Doug Moore was going to be the host of the event.  I knew a Doug Moore at ISU (we roomed together during freshman orientation the summer before our freshman year) who lived in Iowa City the last time I knew, so I was going to stop by and see if he was the same Doug that I know.  When we got to the house, we saw Hawkeye paraphernalia pasted all over the house, so I knew for sure this Doug was not the one who went to ISU.  Even if he'd married a woman of the Hawkeye persuasion, "ISU Doug" wouldn't let his house become a shrine to the Evil Empire like that one was.  I did see Senator Kerry talking to several reporters in the driveway of the house, but the political presence at the tailgate seemed somewhat subdued.  I usually don't have many good things to say about the national democratic party & their strategy choices, but I was impressed that there were none of those "Bush=Hitler" or "No Blood for Oil" signs visible around the tailgate.  Maybe they're finally going to stop beating the "Bush strawman" & focus on proposing solutions to our problems.  Or not.  Either way, it's no skin off my back.  We quickly left that tailgate and proceeded to find Chad "Cowboyclone" Winterboer tailgating about two blocks SE of the stadium.  Chad gave me a quick set of directions to find him that would get us close, but we ended up looking for a guy with a red shirt & dark hair, and spotted him from a block away.  After talking with Chad for a few minutes, we made our way to our seats and settled in just in time to hear the National Anthem & see the Iowa Air National Guard flyby (done by a group of ISU graduates, in case you didn't know).  We were sitting in the row RIGHT BEHIND the ISU Cyclone Football "Varsity" Marching Band, so putting on the comfortable shoes Saturday morning was a brilliant idea in retrospect (since we're gonna be standing for 95% of the game).

 

INTERMISSION:

 

OK, for those of you with weak hearts & low boiling points, I've decided to throw out an alternative topic to keep your mind off the game itself:  Compare & contrast Patrick Swayze's best movies.  Since I'm a guy, I omitted "Ghost" and "Dirty Dancing" and came up with the following list:  "Point Break" (1991), "Red Dawn" (1984), and "Road House" (1989).  Here's a quick breakdown to help you start the discussion.

 

          "POINT BREAK"

Pros:  directed & written by Katherine Bigelow (she wrote/directed the underrated vampire movie "Near Dark" back in 1987, which is a big plus in my book).  Mr. Swayze was supported by Keanu Reeves, Gary "Freakin" Busey and the infamous John C. McGinley in this movie, and the flick also featured both Lori Petty (she of the "girl next door hottie" look) Lee Tergeson (from HBO's "Oz" & "Wayne's World") and Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers playing an idiot meth cooker who blows his own foot off during a police raid (in case you didn't notice, this isn't exactly a Disney movie).  The movie's got one really good fight sequence where Keanu rolls around on a lawn with a running lawn mower in the background threatening to turn him into Kibbles & Bits, and a great chase sequence with Reeves chasing a Reagan mask-clad Swayze on foot after a bank robbery.  The Ratt song over the ending credits ("Nobody Rides for Free") is also pretty fly, but I'm a child of the 80's, so I roll that way.

 

Cons:  Keanu Reeves, and stilted dialogue.  "You're goin' down, Bodie".  Not exactly Kevin Smith on the word processor, now is it?  Keanu Reeves plays a former Ohio State QB in this movie, but he also appears to have half a brain, which should preclude him from enrollment in OSU as an athlete.  Although if you think about it, how tough would it have been to do a quick background check on a former college star to see if he's joined the FBI after "graduation" (ERR, I mean "using up his eligibility", since it IS Ohio State we're talking about here), even in the pre-google era when this movie was made?  All Swayze would have had to do was call the SID at OSU and ask what Johnny Utah was doing nowadays.   And now that I've mentioned "Johnny Utah", isn't that a perfect porn name?

 

          "RED DAWN"

Pros:  written & directed by John "slightly to the right of Genghis Kahn" Milius, of the Dirty Harry "Do you feel lucky, punk?" speech fame.  Mr. Swayze's supporting cast in this movie was drawn from both young up & coming actors (Charlie Sheen, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Jennifer Grey) and established character actors (Ben Johnson & Harry Dean Stanton).  At the time of this movie, I thought the concept of a bunch of kids hiding out in the mountains from the Russian, Cuban & Nicaraguan armies was somewhat of a stretch, but Eric Rudolph's half-decade run from the law through the Georgia/North Carolina mountains after the 1996 Olympic bombing has proved this concept to be at least somewhat feasible.  There are some great lines in the movie, and the ending is appropriately dark.  If they made this movie today, they surely would have tried to go for more of a "feel-good" ending, which would have ruined the whole darn thing.  Just think about it:  within two years of this movie's release, co-stars Sheen & Jennifer Grey found themselves on camera mashing in the reception area of a police station in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off".  I don't know if that's creepy or cool, but it is interesting.

 

Cons:  the politics of this movie lost a lot of their impact when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989.  Charlie Sheen's appearance in a movie usually means that insane conspiracy theories are just below the surface, but this was fairly early in his career, so maybe that factor isn't in play yet.

 

            "ROAD HOUSE"

 

Pro: Directed by Rowdy Herrington, who I thought did a great job with the Brian Dennehy/Cuba Gooding Jr. movie "Gladiator" from 1992.  The rest of his resume is pretty flaky, but I did like that one movie.  Interesting casting choices.  Ben Gazzara as the bad guy, Kevin Tighe of the old "Emergency" TV show as the beleaguered bar owner, Sam Elliott as Swayze's old mentor, and Elvis' old runnin' buddy Red West playing a storeowner in the little Missouri town.  Plenty of T&A, fights and Jeff Healey makes an appearance as a, surprise surprise, blind blues guitarist.  This movie isn't "Caddyshack", "Fletch" or "Office Space", but it does have several memorable quotes.

 

Con:  Not to cast aspersions on anyone's sexuality, but this movie's got more of a homoerotic undercurrent than "Cool Hand Luke", "Spartacus" and "The Birdcage" all put together.  That line about what Ben Gazzara's head enforcer "used to do to guys like you [Dalton] in prison" is just WRONG, man.  Just WRONG.  Dialogue is straight out of a Steven Seagal movie, and the bad guys are such cardboard cutouts you expect to see them wearing those black & white generic t-shirts saying "henchman" or "flunky".  Why does Ben Gazzara feel the need to take over a rural Missouri town anyway?  Does he want to corner the market on corn, sorghum & people who feel strangely attracted to their cousins?  Where's the secret gold mine that he's fighting for in this flick?  Dude, even the guys from "The Magnificent Seven" wouldn't bother to fight for this jerkwater town.  

 

I probably should have added "The Outsiders" to the list as well, but Swayze's more of a part of the ensemble in that movie instead of being the star.  Besides, three options are enough.  Discuss among yourselves while the rest of us go back to the game.

 

BACK TO THE TOPIC AT HAND – ISU vs. IOWA

 

The first play of the game was electric.  DeAndre took the kickoff right in front of us & ran it down Iowa's throat.  Cool.  The ensuing TD to Blythe was money in the bank, and after Meyer waltzed into the end zone right in front of us, I figured we were on the way to another "W" at the house Kinnick built.  The unwillingness to take another shot at the end zone with 1:20 or so left on the clock made me a little nervous, but I figured that we'd make up for it in the second half.  Boy, was I wrong.

 

ISU came out of the visitor's locker room seemingly hypnotized by the infamous pink walls.  We stalled again on offense, and Iowa's short passing game picked us apart on defense.  Hicks kept moving the chains with his runs, but Meyer seemed to be slightly out of phase with the receivers.  When he dropped the ball into their hands, they misplayed it or Iowa's DB's knocked it out; and when the receivers got major separation from their downfield minders, Bret couldn't get them the ball.  Blythe was covered up for most of the game, but we did manage to get him the ball several times.  Shaggy hit a short FG, but his 40 plus-yard miss in the first half was a bummer.  Our kickoff & punt coverage was sloppy all day, but we did have another touchback kicked out of the back of the end zone.  Considering the tees being lower this year, which was one hell of a kick by Griebahn.  I think Brandtner's parents were sitting (ERRR – I mean "standing", remember that we're behind the band) next to us in the end zone – either that or he's got a couple of middle aged fans who went to all the trouble to have buttons made up with his picture on them.  I think he's doing all right, now if he'll just put a little more yardage on his punts we'll be fine.  His protection seems VERY good, which is a good thing, given our history of Iowa games (2003 anyone?).

 

Our defense played well, and my limited viewing of the Mediacom replay show confirms that they did one heck of a job in the fourth quarter, with the exception of a couple of muffed tackles.  Parker learned a valuable lesson on Saturday:  keep going after the reverse man, but also keep your head on a swivel out there or you're gonna FALL DOWN, GO BOOM!  The defense could have kept Iowa off the board for maybe one of their scores with a better performance, but they kept their heads up & improved.  I'm optimistic overall about the performance on that side of the ball.  The offense is a whole different breed of cat.  They've gotta get some mojo working, or we're toast.  Stevie & the offensive line did a good job of getting the running game off the launch pad, and even though Scales had a disappointing 3.2 yard average on his runs, he did pop off a couple good 6 to 7-yard blasts.  His problem is that he's either downfield into the linebackers due to a hole provided by the O-line, or he's wrapped up at or behind the line of scrimmage.  I'd love to see him get more calls to run the ball outside of the tackles, but I guess that'll come with time.  Maybe his knee's still too tender to make the kinds of cuts he needs to make to cause misses, I don't know.  The O-line's protection of Meyer seemed pretty good.  I never thought Meyer was running for his life (like he had to do in Kinnick 2 years ago), and he seemed to have a good 4 seconds to get the ball off most of the time.

         

In my amateur opinion, Meyer's overly nervous about turnovers this year.  All summer he's heard that the offense will have to carry the team this year, and I think he got it stuck in his mind that he CANNOT EVER put the defense in a bad position.  That's a good idea, up to a point, but he's going to have to get more comfortable slinging the ball to our receivers in traffic, and our receivers will have to make more of an effort to HOLD ON TO THE DA*& BALL!  I think Blythe had a couple of plays late in the game where his head wasn't in the game, especially the second down play right before we went for it on fourth down where he didn't see the ball coming his way until it was too late to make a move.  As far as that fourth down play goes, I think the call was good, but the execution was somewhat off, which is sort of the theme of the afternoon for ISU.

 

I was sort of impressed with the renovations at Kinnick (I couldn't tell where all the money went, but I'm only familiar with Kinnick for one game every couple of years since the mid-80's), but I can tell you for sure that the men's room under the North end-zone seats wasn't a recipient of any of that remodeling cash.  The bathroom was the same old "trough" system that's always been there, and the lines were fairly long.  I heard several Iowa fans mention that "the sink's still open", but none of them acted on that suggestion while I was there.  My wife says the women's rooms were remodeled and looked to be greatly expanded, but the one she visited was out of TP by the middle of the third quarter.

 

The best/worst part of the Iowa-ISU game is the post game taunting.  I ran into several interesting Iowa fans on the walk back along Melrose, and one dude in a wheelchair was really cool to talk about the game with.  Sure, there are a significant number of Iowa fans who act like Sleestaks on a Crystal Meth binge, but I think even the vaunted Iowa State University has a few of those wearing our colors too.  I don't mind the post game taunting, as long as it's creative, but the pre-game stuff you get from Iowa fans is sometimes pretty raunchy.  Most of the bad stuff comes from people holding funnels & a length of plastic tubing, so you can blame at least part of it on "beer courage".

 

Bottom line:  Iowa State didn't "give" Iowa the win.  Iowa took it.  ISU could have stayed close & maybe won if they'd eliminated some mistakes, but you'll never catch me making excuses like……..well, I should probably refrain from pointing out any teams here, but I get the feeling that ISU fans could finish that sentence, "ifyouknowwhatImeanandIthinkyoudo".  Kudos to Tate & the Iowa receivers, who exploited our lack of short pass coverage to the max.  If I can give Mr. Tate some advice for the remainder of the season, it would have to be:  "Son, you should use your head to think with instead of leading with it when you make tackles or chop blocks.  Remember the second half of last season's game?  Oh yeah, that's right.  You probably don't."  Iowa's defense should also get a pat on the back for a job well done, especially their secondary.  They took chances all day long on coverage, and most of them paid off.  That's the way it usually goes.

 

Next week:  Texas.  I'll be sorting cattle with my father on Saturday afternoon, so I'll have to listen to John Walters on the radio.  We'll be working the cattle on the same parcel of land where we were fixing fence on that big day in 1992 when Marv Seiler outran Trev "Such a jackass that the network who hired Lou Holtz fired him!" Alberts.  Is that an omen?  I sure hope so.  I'm optimistic that we'll bounce back with an improved performance, but it won't be enough to beat Texas in Austin unless the players really reach down deep & bring their career best performances.  If I could make a suggestion to coaches McCarney or Cotton, it would be "take a chance & let Meyer chuck it deep".  It doesn't matter if it's directed at Blythe, Davis, Flynn, Sumrall, Hamilton, Jones, or even the legendary Euseph Messiah, just make the defense respect the long ball.  That should help open up the short routes & keep the DB's from playing zone on our crossing patterns.  But hey, what do I know?  I'm just a moron with a season ticket & a cooler full of Shiner Bock.

 

See you out in the lots.  I'll save the last Old Mill at the bottom of the cooler for ‘ya. 

 

 


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