Refs are public enemy number one in Ames, Iowa State’s defense doesn’t get enough credit, we ponder a quarterback change and more in five takeaways from the Cyclones’ 37-20 loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
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1. The Big 12 refs should be held more accountable for mistakes.
Media pundits and others will bang the drum about how refs don’t cost teams games, and they’re right. But yesterday’s game is about as close as it gets. Just think about it. The refs didn’t do their job correctly, and then took a game that would have featured an Iowa State defense with a huge stop and gave Oklahoma State a gift touchdown and all the momentum. That carried over to a 97-yard kickoff return and ultimately a 14-point swing.
Jamie Pollard was absolutely correct in criticizing the refs. They cost people jobs with these mistakes. If they can’t do the job correctly, they must be punished. These refs should either be suspended for the rest of the season, or simply let go.
2. Iowa State’s defense is A LOT better than we all thought.
Forget the final tally from the OSU defense in the box score. The Cyclone defense brought the house in the first half and caused the Cowboy offense to have fits. They held Tyreek Hill and Desmond Roland in check. They picked Daxx Garman off twice. They did everything to set up the offense to succeed. Stats say differently, but this defense played one hell of a game and anybody that watched the game knows it.
3. Is it time for a quarterback change?
Oct 4, 2014; Stillwater, OK, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Sam B. Richardson (12) is sacked by Oklahoma State Cowboys linebacker Ryan Simmons (52) during the first half at Boone Pickens Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Sam Richardson is 2-12 as a starter and 0-9 in Big 12 play (of course, when he broke out against Kansas two years ago, that should probably count as a win on his books). Throwing remains inconsistent — passes range everywhere from being shortarmed and hitting defenders in the helmet on short passes or completely overthrown on deep passes.
Perhaps it’s time to move on to Grant Rohach, who continued to improve on his accuracy last year. He averaged 67 percent passing in his last three games at the end of last year while hitting 52 percent or less in the previous three games.
4. At least the tough part of the schedule is over.
There’s still Oklahoma and TCU, but compared to the first half of the season, the second half is a lot easier. Toledo and Kansas will be the easiest battles, Texas isn’t back to their level of excellence yet, and West Virginia and Texas Tech have defenses Iowa State’s offense can move on. It looks really bad for this offense, but they’ve been going up against some great defenses.
5. It’s clear the running game won’t fix itself.
Iowa State needs to spread out these defenses or else it doesn’t matter who they have in at tailback. This was a problem all last year until Rohach started throwing the ball better. Shontrelle Johnson finally got some production. The Cyclones must be a pass-first offense that sets up the running game — unless they lose all their receivers by the end of the season.