To quote Mark Kieffer from last night's game thread, "Who IS this team? And what did they do with Iowa State?"
It's Sunday morning and I sit in front of my computer, still stunned. Mark and I exchanged comments about his predictions for last night and I said to stay optimistic. If you had told me that the final score was going to be 52-38 Iowa State, I'd have told you that you obviously had that messed up and that Texas Tech won 52-38. I'd then proceed to add that you had the completely wrong game because, obviously, there's no way that Iowa State can score even 38 points.
All that said, it's been a while since I saw a first half (minus the last two minutes) where everything went SO right for one team and SO wrong for the other. At halftime, I consoled myself that I knew Iowa State could find a way to lose the game, even after score the first 24 points. Good Lord, am I glad I was wrong, and forgive me for my doubt.
I don't want to knock on Texas Tech, they're a good football team, as my friend Seth C at Double-T Nation made clear to me over the course of the week with his posts. Not without problems, but a good football team. Their concerns about Taylor Potts, in my opinion, were unfounded. The dude can throw the football like nobody's business and is darn near as accurate as Colt McCoy ever was. But it's hard for even the Air Raid to win, when your defense let's a team score 45 points (7 came on special teams).
Let's jump into the review of my "What to Watch For" points from Friday:
"Playmaking" On Offense
The Iowa State Faithful have been calling for the ISU Offense for 4 weeks now, and finally they showed up. Not just one but two ISU running backs ran for 100+ yards last night. Major points to Alexander Robinson for his first 100 yard game of the year, but I give a lot more credit to Shontrelle Johnson for his first 100 yard game of his career. I have to say I look forward to the future of ISU at the tailback position, the "Rabbit" can run!
More than that, Austen Arnaud punched his critics in the gut, followed it up with an uppercut to the jaw and kicked them in the nuts after they fell to the ground. Arnaud went 20/28 for 190 yards, 4 TD's, no INTs, and probably his highest QB Rating ever at 175.57. His passes were on the money and hotter than a rifle bullet from the looks of it. Most importantly though, Tom Herman stretched the field, making some of the first shots to the endzone from the 40 yard line or so. Some of them worked, and some of them didn't, but Tech had to honor the deep ball, and Iowa State rammed the running backs down their throat because of it.
Bottom Line, I hope this is the offense that shows up the rest of the year, if so, watch out Oklahoma and Texas.
More after the jump
Continued Defensive Improvement
Tech scored 38 points on the Iowa State defense, but I can't give them too much crap for it. The first half the defense was outstanding, and they played through the end of the game, forcing Tech to beat them through the air. As I expected, Wally Burnham instructed his defense to give up the underneath passes and focus on not allowing Tech to make big plays. Only once, in the 4th quarter, did I see a major blown assignment, and Tech got a touchdown out of it. The boys were obviously fired up and they played a great game against Tech's potent offense. One major positive I'd like to point out was the effort the defense put forth on limiting YAC from Tech's receivers. It seemed like every time one of Tech's receivers caught the ball, an ISU defender put a hit on them. Several times, even when the assigned defender missed the tackled, they would continue to fight and get a hand on an ankle to slow down, trip up, and generally pester the Tech receivers. This is an outstanding level of effort on their part and something we hadn't been seeing, especially in the first 3 weeks, from the young defense.
Frankly, the first drive of the game to reach the Red zone when we had all those penalties, I thought it was going to be same ol' same ol'. Thankfully they proved me wrong. The Offensive line as usual was really the unsung heros of last night's win. After the first drive, they were disciplined, they opened the running lanes, and they protected the quarterback while he picked apart the Tech secondary. Now we know how good the OL can be, and we expect it every week!
When I said we should pound Tech's defense early, I had no idea we'd score the first 24 points of the game. Tech went up-tempo just before the half and early in the third quarter, but other than that ISU imposed it's will on the rhythm of the game. ISU's last major drive in the fourth quarter, taking 6 minutes off the clock and using Jeff Woody the workhorse back, was a thing of beauty. That's the way to win a football game. Welcome back to the Big 12 Iowa State, we've missed you.