Countdown to Kickoff: Day 49(er)

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"If you win the turnover margin and the explosive-play margin, you will win almost all of the games. There was an NFL study about 10 years ago that looked over five seasons. And teams that won those two areas won 97.5 percent of the time. For us, an explosive pass is 17 yards or more and an explosive run is 12 yards or more. Some people differ. We have five goals each week: win turnover margin; win explosive plays; be great on first down, and that means making 4 yards or more 50 percent of the time; be 45 percent or more on third down; score 80 percent of the time in the red zone, and we want touchdowns 67 percent of the time. If we win three out of the five, we are undefeated in the six years I have been an offensive coordinator."

- Iowa State offensive coordinator Tom Herman

Explosive plays have been lacking in the two years Tom Herman has directed Iowa State's offense. In 2009, Iowa State gained 5.1 yards per play, good for the 71st most-explosive offense in the country. In 2010, Iowa State was 104th in the country in yards per play, gaining just 4.6 yards per attempt. This number has to improve in 2011 if Iowa State wants to go bowling again, and 49 days before the kickoff of the 2011 season, Iowa State may just have found a model for success.

The 1991 San Francisco 49ers of Super Tecmo Bowl.

Was there ever an offense more unstoppable than the Super Tecmo Bowl 49ers? Sure, there were technically better teams in the game (like the Buffalo Bills); but if you wanted to light up the scoreboard you picked San Francisco every time. If you couldn't pass for over 400 yards with Joe Montana, Jerry Rice & John Taylor; then fuck you! You don't deserve to be playing this game!

Like Iowa State, the STB 49ers even had a quarterback controversy. Would a player choose steady, experienced Joe Montana (Jerome Tiller)? Or would they opt for younger, flashier, slightly more mobile Steve Young (Steele Jantz)? Truly a dilemma for the ages.

And the receivers, a group Paul Rhoads called "mediocre" in 2010, could definitely learn a thing or two from Jerry Rice, John Taylor and company. Throwing into triple coverage? No problem, Rice is going to come up with the ball. Unlike the Cyclone receivers of the past two years, who are lucky to even be in the vicinity of a thrown football, the STB 49ers wide receiving corps always goes out and makes the play. It doesn't matter where the ball is thrown, the virtual 49ers will jump ten feet in the air and GET IT.

And while Tom Herman is a smart guy and an experienced offensive coordinator, even the best football minds occasionally need a little outside assistance. With that in mind, Herman should plumb the vast depths of the Super Tecmo Bowl playbook and "borrow" some plays.

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Maybe the problem with Iowa State's offense the past few years has been Herman outsmarting himself. Trimming the playbook down to a tidy eight plays should eliminate all confusion for the team. Want to gain crucial yards on a first down? Throw to a wide-open Kurt Hammerschmidt in the Pro T Flare D formation. Need to stretch the defense? Why not a long pass out of the Shotgun Z S In?

Simply put, outside of a few games (Texas, Texas Tech), Iowa State's offense has been stagnant for the past two years, and the defense simply can't survive when the offense is consistently going three-and-out and giving the other team a short field. With a simplified playbook and the right A-button-B-button combination, the Cyclones should easily eclipse 700 yards of offense per game in 2011. Easy.

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