Wow. That is all I can really say about last Saturday night's game. The Cyclones came out flat and after some major mistakes found themselves down 21-7 at halftime. This game wasn't pretty by any means and everyone has their own opinions (I know, I've read the boards too) but I will give my five "take-aways" from the night that almost went down in infamy.
1) The defense really stepped up….. but not until halftime. The secondary allowed Sanders to go 11-11 in the first half but did not allow a TD in the second half (and one of the field goals was the result of Baum's fumbled punt return). If the D continued down the path they set for themselves in the first half, ISU would've walked away the loser.
2) Blythe is ridiculously good. I know, everyone knows that but every time he makes one of those catches in the end zone (you know the ones, he's diving, only has one hand free, two defenders on him) I find myself thanking god he came to ISU.
3) Where was the running game? Hicks only had seven carries and the rushing offense only got 81 yards total. I know why the went to the pass in the second half, but it still seems a little odd that McCarney would abandon the run game. I wonder if there is something we don't know here (like a sore Hicks or something).
4) Ryan Baum really does have some skill. His punt return showed he has speed and vision down the field. I know some people are dogging him because of his fumble but everyone makes a mistake. It ended up not costing up the victory, so let's hope her learns from it and keeps up his good work on returns.
5) I see this game as the typical "sandwich" game. I am not making excuses but I do think (and hope) that this team was looking past UNI to the Huskers. I know McCarney always says they aren't going to over look anyone, but that really does seem like the logical result to draw here.
Cyclones Statistical Breakdown
There were still some good numbers
to come out of the game. Blythe got
another TD, which bumps his total to five (one per game) and
Next game up for the Cyclones is
In its third year as
The defense isn't as talented as the offense but it does have it bright points. The Husker's D is ranked at 56th in the nation in total defense (321 yards per game), with the passing D being 65th (198.4) and the rushing being 59th (122.6). Every starter on this team is either a junior or senior (5 jr. 7 sr.). The team is led by their ridiculously good front line. The starting four are all seniors and look like future NFL players. They are led by DE Adam Carriker who has 22 tackles and one sack. The linebackers are monsters, with two starts leading the team in tackles (Corey McKeon with 30, Stewart Bradley with 29). The only weak link is the secondary. They are giving up 198.4 yards per game through the air, but they have the skill to improve. FS Andrew Shanle is a ball hawk who already has three picks, and SS Tierre Green is third on the team in tackles with 28. This defense has been good so far this season, and Coach Callahan has made it a priority to improve his team's speed through recruiting. Look for this D to improve as the year goes on.
This special teams is a solid group of players. The kickoff duty is handled by returning sophomore starter Jordan Congdon who averages 56.3 a kickoff (1 touchback). Congdon also handles field goals, going 2-3 so far (long of 38, missed from 37) and has been perfect on PATs (28-28). The punting is handled by sophomore Dan Titchener who averages 39 yards a kick with six inside the 20. So far, WR Terrence Nunn is handling punts, averaging 9.7 yards with a long of 31. Finally, kickoff returns are taken by Tierre Green and Brandon Jackson, who average 19.7 yards and 16.0 yards per kick respectively. All in all, this special teams is good, but hasn't done anything yet to show that is more than a "solid" corps.
To recap, the offense is
stupendous, ranking in the top ten in the nation as far as offenses go. The defense is good with some real good
playmakers but the pass defense has been a work in progress. The special teams have done what is
asked of them and that is about it.
What does it all mean for the Cyclones? Well, they have their work cut out for
them. This will be the biggest game
in Jack Trice since last year's