Putting Lipstick on a Pig

I'm gonna keep it short this week. Williams & Blum are in Minneapolis for the Vikings/Pats game tonight, and I'm sure the last thing they want to see first thing Tuesday morning is a "War & Peace"-length tirade about the game in Manhattan, Kan.

I didn't make it down to the game this week, even though we considered making the roadie earlier in the year.  The game last week took all my motivation to drive down to the "thriving metroplex known as Manhattan, KS"; plus my old buddy Dave from college was having a big cookout to celebrate his son's ninth birthday in Osage, Iowa. We drove up to Osage Saturday morning while Iowa was whuppin' Northern Illinois on WHO (what else are you gonna listen to in North Central Iowa on the radio?).  When we arrived at their house at 1:30 or so, we did some work to help set up the tables & clean up the garage for dinner.  At 3:30, we went out to the public hunting area west of town and hit the new trapshooting range.  Dave said the rumor he's heard is that the high school is going to form a trapshooting team, which is about the coolest thing I can imagine competing at in high school (especially since sports I was good at, like "speed quarters" and "motorcycle slalom course in the Sav-U-Mor Parking lot" are actively discouraged by any school official with half a brain).  We set up with Dave & his son Ben, Dave's brother & his son, and one of our deer hunting buddies from Osage with his son as well.  My wife gave me a Remington 870 shotgun for a birthday/Christmas/anniversary/Groundhog Day present (I'd rather get a cool present like this for several holidays than get a bunch of smaller presents, and I told her so – it was a pretty cool move on her part) back in '05, and I haven't had a chance to use it until this weekend.  Not bad.  It's amazing how many clay pigeons you can hit when you use your imagination to add little Nebraska & Texas Tech uniforms to their little orange bodies.  I went through about 20 rounds before I decided that the gun works OK, and then I spent most of the rest of my time sighting in an old .22 for squirrel and rabbit work (somebody's got to shoot some critters for the stew we're going to serve at the Mizzou tailgate, and if I don't do it, who will?).  A couple of the kids brought their own .22s, and I helped them set up targets and shoot while the other guys kept breaking clays. 


The best part of the day was when Dave's boy Ben borrowed his dad's gun for his first attempt at shooting clay pigeons.  Ben stepped up, led the bird properly with the shotgun, and broke it into a cloud of dust with the first shot.  Cool.  Considering that his father was having one of those days when "he'd have trouble hitting water if he'd fallen out of a boat", we made sure to mention that his son "must have gotten his shooting skills from Heather's side of the family" SEVERAL times.  This is about the time my phone rang, and my wife notified me that "Messiah is in the game".  I figured that he must have done something cool, but she said "he just got a holding call, but I figured you'd like to hear that he's at least playing".  The score was 17-10 late in the third, and I was optimistic that we could pull it off.  Silly Cyclone.  I heard later that we had lost 31-10, and I put the game out of my mind while I enjoyed a good night of friends, food and telling lies.


Now that I've seen the Mediacom replay and read the stat lines in the Register, the following things come to mind:


  1. Bret "Groceries" Meyer had a pretty good day for yardage, but he failed to throw a touchdown pass and coughed up an interception.  I saw several other passes that should have/could have been interceptions, most notably the circus catch by Milan Moses in the first half when he took the ball out of the hands of a defensive back.  Meyer's still running for his life out there, and he's making decisions with at least one rusher in his face.  (Groceries?  Yes, groceries.  He's gets sacked enough behind our "UN Peacekeeper O-line" that this nickname seems to fit). 
  2. Milan Moses had a great day.  John Walters screwed up once and called him "JJ", and then joked "at least I didn't call him Jerry".  I can see why he'd make that mistake.  Milan had five catches for 96 yards, and two kickoff returns for 43 more yards.  Definitely the bright side of the game here.
  3. My personal favorite offensive Cyclone, Euseph Messiah, lived up to his name and had three tough catches in the third quarter for 28 yards.  He managed to drag tacklers with him every time we got him the ball, so he's playing tough AND fast out there.  He's still got two more years PLUS three games in a Cyclone uniform, and I'm hoping for many more highlights from this little dynamo.  Then I'll sit back like someone who knows what he's talking about & brag "Yeah, I KNEW he'd be a world beater."  Yeah, that'll be cool.
  4. Scales averaged 5.6 YPC in his limited role, which is better than I was expecting.  He might not win the starting job next year, but it won't be for lack of effort.  Johnson only averaged 2.1 yards on seven carries, which is darn close to Scales' usual line (food for thought:  is that a function of him being the secondary back here?).  Scales' rushing seems to indicate that our offensive line isn't COMPLETELY useless, but I don't understand why we can't consistently run the ball well.   Once again, Meyer ran the ball too many times.  Running the ball is preferable to chucking up passes to d-backs, but by my count he had 16 carries (six of which were sacks) for a measly 22 yards (if you take out the sacks, he had a more respectable 52 yards).
  5. Brandtner had five punts with an average of almost 38 yards.  Considering the wind in Manhattan, that's a good day.  The coverage team did a great job of limiting returns, but our own punt returns were another story altogether.  We didn't have a single return (other than Sumrall's brain fart of taking the ball inside the ten with heavy coverage around him), and we also coughed up a punt fumble that ended up in KSU's hands on our 15 yard line.  That part of our game is going to need a little finishing.
  6. The defense played well early, but they wore down as the day went on.   I've got nothing as far as suggestions for improvement go, but I'd like to see Bowen & McKenzie get a couple less tackles & a few more pass breakups instead.  Of course, this would be easier if they had ANY secondary experience behind them.  I notice that nobody's calling for Skladany's head yet, which means that they're apparently paying attention.
  7. Our ball security was bad, but that's no news to anyone who listened to the game.  Moses' grab from the d-back is the shining exception from this situation.


I'm not sure what to expect next weekend.  ISU plays Kansas at home, and we SHOULD be able to beat them.  Will we get it done?  Who knows?  We're 3-6, and we desperately need a win.  I'll be there, and my wife's bringing three of her nephews along with us to watch the game, so I'll apparently be on my best behavior for this game (at least until the game's over).  See you out in the lots, Clone fans.


Go Cyclones.


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