The good news is that October is almost over. The bad news? The Cyclones have a road game against a Texas team that appears to be surging after last week's win over Nebraska. The Longhorns have proven this year that they're far from invincible, but by no stretch of the imagination is this a bad football team. In particular, Defensive End Sam Acho has been a force to be reckoned with. Watching him chase down Taylor Martinez last week in Lincoln was an eye opener, and I don't believe it means anything good for Iowa State running backs Alexander Robinson and Shontrelle Johnson in particular.
Unfortunately I did not have time this week to interview anyone with a Longhorn affiliation, but I live in Austin, and I can tell you that this town regards this Saturday as something of an anti-climax. I, too, am somewhat disappointed because the game was scheduled for early in the day, and I had already promised to golf in a Cancer Awareness scramble. I'll be following the game as best I can on my iPhone, but it's really not the same and we all know it. Hopefully I'll be able to draw some conclusions from the post game reports and maybe catch a replay on FSN before I write my "In Review" blog.
Without further ado, I'll be watching this Saturday for:
Penetration of the Offensive Line by Texas
Texas has shown repeatedly that their front four are good enough to penetrate the opponent's offensive line without help from the linebackers and/or secondary. On the other hand, the Iowa State Offensive line has been about the only unit that has shown consistent improvement over the course of the year. ISU sports a big, physical and capable offensive line, and I look for it to degrade the effectiveness of the aforementioned Sam Acho. Presuming they can do so, it could be a spark that lights the fuse of the rest of the team.
Which Garret Gilbert will come to Play?
My father-in-law is a huge Texas fan, and he and I have watched most of Texas' games this year. I've been astounded by how inconsistent Garret Gilbert has been up until last week at Nebraska. He finally showed some competence as the leader of the Offense. Even then, he made very few big plays, and was a pedestrian quarterback at best. Arguably the biggest difference in the game he made was with his feet. Frankly I feel better about the ISU defense's chances of slowing down Gilbert compared to their performance against Landry Jones last week. As I'm sure the coaches have been telling the Cyclones, it's a brand new week and they have a chance to play and win another game.
Do the Cyclones Continue to Fight?
Last week, Paul Rhoads admitted defeat in the third quarter and put in Jerome Tiller. At least that's the way it appeared when watching the game on TV. The team continued to play, but it wasn't the same as their level of play two weeks ago when behind Utah. Against Utah, the team consciously gave every effort well into the 4th Quarter. Let's hope the Cyclones can find the spirit to play as hard as they can this week in Austin.
Arguably, the Cyclones can't get much worse than they were last week. Presumably they'll show some improvement this week. I really want to examine who did what better this week, as it will have a huge impact on what the team's chances are the rest of the year. I'm starting to get a sickening feeling that a 5-7 season is creeping up on us. Yes, a lot of people predicted exactly that, and it's certainly better than the Chizik years, but we hunger, we yearn for more. So do the Cyclones. Let that hunger drive us.
On something of a side note, I've been extraordinarily impressed with Kirby Van Der Kamp this year, his punting has been astonishing for a Freshmen. Some of the punts he made last week at Oklahoma were amazing, pinning them inside the 10 yard line repeatedly. The defense threw those chances away, but to have that weapon in your bag isn't something to take for granted.