Iowa State suffered their second consecutive season-opening loss, and as expected, fans went nuts. While I personally wasn’t apart of the fracas immediately following the game, there was enough evidence on message boards, Twitter, and other places that are actually considering this the worst loss in the Paul Rhoads era.
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Now that we have had almost 24 hours to ponder this loss against North Dakota State, let’s look at what we learned from it.
1. Not taking North Dakota State seriously because they are in the FCS? It’s time to stop.
I don’t know what’s more disappointing — fan reaction after this loss or how many people still don’t consider NDSU a powerful opponent. Did I dream it or did this team beat Kansas State last year? Even without their head coach or starting quarterback from last season, there’s a system in place here to defeat FBS teams, especially ones that spread like ISU. The Bison’s power offense wore down Iowa State’s weak defense to the point where there was nothing they could do. A lot of other FBS teams would have lost to NDSU yesterday.
NDSU weathered an early storm and then dominated with their style of football. Luckily, most Big 12 teams don’t play like this, so that’s one of the few bright spots to take away from this game. There’s plenty of reasons to be pissed about the loss, but don’t start attacking media members, bloggers, or other fans. And definitely don’t be the guy who starts calling out Paul Rhoads to be fired or quit on the season. Actually, if you are that guy, you can leave; the program’s better off without your “support.”
2. The offense looked completely lost without Tom Farniok on the field.
It’s incredible how big of difference one offensive lineman makes, but NDSU’s 80-yard scamper for their opening touchdown wasn’t the only turning point of the game. Once Farniok was out, NDSU started getting more players into the backfield, the holes stopped appearing for the running backs, and in fact, it seemed like the offensive play calling went away from the running game and tried to rely on Sam Richardson‘s arm.
Richardson threw 31 pass attempts while Aaron Wimberly had 9 total carries. That aided in two costly interceptions that fueled NDSU to dominate.
Aug 30, 2014; Ames, IA, USA; North Dakota State Bison running back Chase Morlock (25) celebrates with fullback Andrew Bonnet (46) after scoring a touchdown against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium. North Dakota State defeated Iowa State 34-14. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
3. That being said, the offense wasn’t a complete disaster. They just didn’t get chances.
In the first half, it’s hard to come away disappointed from the Cyclones’ offensive effort. They exploded in the first quarter and change with two touchdowns highlighted with Allen Lazard‘s first deep catch. If you look at the box score, the majority of the offensive production came in the first half.
Obviously, the offense got completely out of rhythm as NDSU destroyed clock and took full control of the game in the second half. ISU had four possessions; the first one was stopped short with an early pick. The last one came when the game was over. It was bad when it was out on the field, but it’s hard to jump right into the swing of the things when watching the opponent slowly march down the field and get a score. Iowa State needs to equal out time of possession to have a chance this season.
4. Colin Downing had sharper punts in the second half.
I know, a punter as a highlight is a slap in the face, but the true freshman looked unfazed out there. He had a couple of short punts in the first half that set the Bison up in decent starting position, but he got better footing under it during the second half.
5. Dondre Daley took advantage of the absence of other weapons.
Quenton Bundrage left with an early injury, E.J. Bibbs was nowhere to be found, and both D’Vario Montgomery and Tad Ecby violated team rules and weren’t available to play. With some missing receivers, Dondre Daley took full advantage as the go-to receiver, picking up 32 yards on 5 catches. It wasn’t spectacular in the box score, but there’s some potential here for him to break out.
Other quick notes
- There was a missed interception by Nigel Tribune that could have turned the momentum a bit for the Cyclones. It was a pick that needed to be caught.
- Even though Farniok and Bundrage were injured and didn’t play the game after they got hurt,
it sounds like both players should be ready to go next Saturday. UPDATE: Bundrage is out for the season, but Farniok should play Saturday. This team basically can’t lose Farniok, or the running game will suffer. And this team needs a running game to balance time of possession.