Early Sign of Disaster: Ben McRoy gave an indication of what was to come when he muffed the opening kickoff. Tech's complete lack of focus and execution were encapsulated in that play. And McRoy, incidentally, had a bad night like the rest of the team. In addition to the opening muff, he averaged only 18 yards per return on five attempts and never looked like his usual threatening self.
Round Peg into Square Hole: Fades and flies were non-starters for the Red Raiders. Iowa State corners were absolutely plastering Tech's outside receivers, and on top of that, they had safety help. Seth Doege's deep shots into double coverage were simply wasted plays at best and they indicated a certain desperation and lack of creativity.
During the telecast of the Michigan State-Nebraska game, color commentator Chris Spielman chastised the Spartans for their bewildering insistence upon playing to the strength of Nebraska's defense, which was the deep sideline pass. I am equally puzzled as to why Tech did the very same thing against Iowa State.
Slow on the Draw: The Cyclones repeatedly burned Tech's defense with the quarterback draw on third and fourth down. There were times when the Red Raiders missed tackles on ISU quarterback Jared Barnett, but more often than not, there was simply nobody home to make the play. Why Tech's defensive brass could not adjust the defense to defend this play, particularly on critical downs, is beyond me.
Abandoning the Run: Given Tech's abysmal frame of mind, they were not going to win the game under any circumstances. I believe they could have given themselves a better chance, however, if they had been a bit more patient with the running game.
Case in point was Tech's third drive of the game. Aaron Crawford rushed for seven yards on the first play and five yards on the second. Seth Doege kept for another five yards on the third play and DeAndre Washington bolted for 16 yards on play four.
The Red Raiders were set up with a 1st-and-ten on the Cyclone 35. Rather than keep it on the ground, where Tech had averaged over eight yards per tote on that drive, they elected to throw the bubble screen to Marcus Kennard. The play netted a predictable two yards, but was wiped out and then some by Austin Zouzalik's facemask penalty. The drive fizzled and Tech was forced to punt. From that point on the Red Raiders never really tested the Cyclone defense with the run. I think this was a mistake.
One Way to Stop the Pass Rush: Tech's pass rush was pathetic, but one very good explanation for the lack of pressure is that Iowa State's tackles simply tackled Red Raider defensive ends right in front of the officials without drawing a flag. I don't ever recall such flagrant infractions being ignored by officials.
Dog Day for Doege: The play of quarterback Seth Doege didn't cause Tech to lose this game, but it sure didn't help the Red Raider cause either. Doege's utter lack of focus and his commission of deadly turnovers reminded me of Graham Harrell's effort against Missouri in 2007.
You will recall that Harrell threw back-to-back pick sixes against the Tigers in what was probably his worst game as a Red Raider. Doege had a similar outing, the lone difference being that he didn't fire the rod at Grandma and Grandpa Mankins sitting in the sixth row. Like the current Red Raiders, the 2007 outfit was coming off a huge road win—a 31-27 thriller over Texas A&M.