The Cyclones dropped their second consecutive game in a row, falling to the 7th ranked team in the nation. Does a 2-2 record mean ISU is done? Hardly. The game wasn't pretty and definitely won't go down in ISU history as one of the greatest, but it had some good things to take away.
1) The defense is still learning but they are showing improvement. That Texas team is probably the best team this D will see this year.
2) Hicks ran well again. Man, I am impressed with his comeback from last year's injury. He has proven to be a legitimate threat in this offense, which is going to help in future games.
3) Bret Meyer is one tough hombre. He did a heck of a job on the day and made some great plays. He is the Big 12's best QB right now despite the fact that….
4) The O-line did not jell. Giving up 7.5 sacks is not acceptable, and then add in all the false starts and how often Meyer had to run for his life and it means the O-line is not performing. I truly think they are a good group but they didn't show it versus Texas.
5) Brandon Hunley has motivation for the rest of his career. Watching Jermichael Finley take away that pass in the end zone (you know the one, the only score in the second half) should be enough to fire any man up. If I were Hunley, I would find a picture of that, blow it up, and put it in my locker. That pass should've been a pick and if Finley ripping it out of Hunley's hands isn't motivation to lift weights and get better, nothing is.
Cyclones Statistical Breakdown
The Cyclones didn't play a terrible game (excluding the five minutes and 32 seconds it took for the longhorns to be up 16-0). The upside is that the passing game had 302 yards and Stevie Hicks had 66 yards on just 11 carries. That 6.6 yard per carry average by Hicks is really good considering Texas only allowed an average of 25 yards per game on the ground. The bad news is that ISU was below that average if all the rushing yards are considered and the defense allowed 218 yards of rushing for the day. Another thing to note is that Meyer was 24 of 43 (55.8%) which is good considering he took 7 sacks. Just the fact that he kept getting up has me impressed. Blythe added another TD to his total (now at four) and is on pace to have 12 TDs on the year. MLB Tyrone McKenzie led the team in tackles with 11, and Alvin Bowen added six to his total of 54 (13.5 tackles per game), which still ranks 1st in the nation for total tackles per game (by the way, McKenzie is currently 20th on that list with 10.0).
Next game for the Clones is the University of Northern Iowa Panthers. This game is an "intra-state rivalry" but it doesn't really carry the clout that the Iowa game does, due to the fact that UNI is I-AA. Does that mean that they can't beat the Cyclones? No, and if you think it does I bet some fans in Boulder would be willing to argue with you. The Panthers come in ranked at 13th and are 3-17-3 against the Cyclones. The Cyclones have won the last four games, with the last UNI win coming in 1994 by a score of 28-14. The Panthers are led by head coach Mark Farley who is 0-3 against ISU (conversely, Dan McCarney is 4-0 against UNI). UNI is riding high this season after making it all the way to the finals in the I-AA playoffs before falling to Appalachian State 21-16. UNI is from the Gateway conference (same conference as last year's I-AA team Illinois State) and is currently 2-1 on the season.
The offense is a balanced unit, averaging 207.3 yards rushing and 191.0 yards passing. The running game is led by sophomore Corey Lewis, who is coming off a 196 yard game against South Dakota State and has over 100 yards in every game so far this year. The quarterback position is held by junior Eric Sanders. Sanders has 485 yards on the season and has a completion percentage of 69.1% and has four TDs. The receiving corps is solid, but I wouldn't call them stellar. They are led by Johnny Gray (167 yards, one TD) and James Lindgren (100 yards, three TD).
The UNI defensive unit should be a breeze after facing the Longhorns last week. This unit has allowed an average of 197.3 yards passing but is stout against the run, only allowing 133.7 yards per game. The Panther D is led by junior FS Chris Parsons (20 tackles), senior CB Dre Dokes (16 tackles, two ints), and junior DE Jordan Lacy (17 tackles, one sack). It should be noted that Parsons is the team's lead returning tackler (95 tackles in 2005) and Dokes is 3rd in I-AA among active career leaders in interceptions (13 in his career). This defense is a solid bunch of guys but it should face its best competition on Saturday in the form of the Cyclone's offense.
The special teams are a bright spot for this Panther's team. Senior punter Adam Kos has punted nine times this year, averaging 41.9 yards a punt. The kickoff duty is handled by Brian Wingert, who averages 64.2 yards per kick and has 16 touchbacks out of 17 total kicks (the one non-touchback was kicked out of bounds). The field goals are also handled by Wingert, who is a perfect 11-11 on PATs and 7-7 on FGs, including one from 57 yards! The kick return duties are handled by Terrell Allen (first year transfer from Pitt) who averages 33.8 yards per return and has already ran one back for 97 yards and the TD. The only part of the special teams that isn't stupendous is the punt returning. Johnny Gray has had five attempts and only averages 6.4 yards a carry.
In a nut shell, the Panthers are a great I-AA team. The offense has a great running game and can throw the ball when they need to. The defense is good and has the ability to halt the opposite's team in their tracks. The special teams unit is fantastic with a perfect place-kicker and a dangerous kick returner. However, they have yet to face a D-1 team this year. All in all, this team could very easily find itself back in the I-AA title game this year if everything goes right. With that being said, the Cyclones might have some troubles but should be able to win this game in convincing fashion. The Cyclones defense will give up some points but should be able to contain the rush and put some pressure on the QB. The offense should (note that I said should) be able to put up big numbers because of the shear mass of options that Meyer has available to him. As long as the Clones aren't looking past the Panthers to next week's match up with the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Cyclones should find themselves at 3-2 going into another Big 12 showdown.