Before anything, I've got to give props to the ISU fans for supporting the team and giving a proper sendoff to our Seniors! There was an announced attendance of 46,000+ and although all 46,000 weren't there, the Jack was MUCH more full than I had expected.
You could not have found a 2-8 team with a better showing than what the ISU fans did last night, and that's without the cold weather. I have to say on nights like last, I'm proud to be an ISU fan. I truely believe better days are ahead, and continuing to support the program is key to our future sucess.
I also want to thank the Seniors for everything they gave to the ISU program. Lets be honest, they were here during a rough time. For the JUCOs in their last year, they came into the program with a new coach trying to get things turned around. To the Seniors who put in 4 or 5 years what a rollercoaster ride: You were there during 1 or 2 bowl bids (depending on if you redshirted or not), but you were also there during 3 rough seasons and a coaching change. That wasn't easy, but thanks for continuing to work hard and representing the Cyclones well. The younger guys on the team needed your leadership and that will pay dividends in the future.
Lastly, I'll talk about the actual game. Instead of breaking down the Xs and Os, I just want to list some positives and negatives.
- For the past two weeks, the offense has been moving the ball much better. There was a silly mistake with the Arnuad INT for 6 in the first half. I really thought the offense has battled pretty well the last two games. We simply don't have the firepower to put up 28+ points.
- Leonard Johnson continues to be a playmaker. Whether its interecepting passes (he did get one put it was called back due to a roughing the passer penalty), making big hits, recovering fumbles, or making big returns, he's a player. I am really looking forward to his career at ISU and it will be exciting to watch him for the next 3 years.
- Arnaud completed a Cyclone single game record of 36 passes. Usually when you pass a lot, that means you're behind, but I'm trying to be positive!
- On offense we controlled the clock with a 34:50 time of possession, we got only 35 less yards of offense than Mizzou (479 vs 444), we picked up more first downs (25 vs 24), and the turnover margin was equal.
- On offense, we need to figure out how to score. We've been doing much better at moving the ball between the 30s but we've got to figure out how to punch the ball in the end zone on a consistent basis. When the field gets shorter there are less openings, but we've got to find a way to continue to complete passes and pick up rushing yards.
- The defense as a whole. I think we do well with hitting guys and forcing fumbles, but that's usually after they've picked up a good chunk of yards. In this game I saw us blitz more than I remember. The problem is that Mizzou often times picked it up.
- Here's the story of the defense: drop back in zone, give Daniel all day to throw, and he finds a WR or RB sitting in the soft spot. OR, blitz, perhaps get pressure (usually not fast enough), and Daniel goes over the top to a WR beating the CB in man coverage. I think it's clear it isn't the scheme. I think we need to bolster our DL and get some more athletic LBS. I know that's a tall order, and that could take a little while. The thing about college is that you can't just go and sign a free agent, or trade players. We need to make improvements through recruiting and development which take some time.
- Third down percentage on both sides of the ball. First, we converted on 43% of third downs. That actually isn't too horrible, but some of those were 3rd and shorts and that's just frustrating to watch. On defense, however, Mizzou convereted 80% of their third downs. Many of those were 3rd and longs. We just cannot continue to do well the first two downs, to then giving up a big play on third down.
- The weather! Man it was cold! I didn't really start to feel it until the 3rd quarter, but the temp really dropped during the third and it was uncomfortable. Had we been ahead, I would've continued to stay amped and that only would've kept we warm.
Again, thanks to all of the great ISU fans for coming out on a COLD and windy night! Thanks again to all of the Seniors for everything they've done for the program.
Let's go out and play hard against the Wildcats next week!