We done did it! ISU finally won a Big 12 game, the first in nearly two years (1-11 last twelve Big 12 games now). Below are some thoughts on the game:
What I liked:
We won. I know it was a depleted Baylor team, but we won a conference game. Hopefully we can pick up a couple more, to shut up all the a-holes that predicted we'd win 1-2 games, and go o-fer in the conference again. We picked up our first Big 12 win since our win over Colorado on November 10th, 2007. We are just past the halfway point of the season with a winning record. I'd love to see if this team could find a way to get to 6 wins this year.
ISU rushed for 240 yards. It started off kind of slow, but between A-Rob, Tiller (yes, Tiller), Arnaud, and Schwartz, ISU picked up a lot of rushing yards this game.
- Winning the turnover battle. ISU was +2, as we picked off Baylor 3 times, and got picked once.
- Tiller's running ability -- outside the tackles. The guy is quick. I saw it in the Spring Game, and we saw more of it last night. Inside the tackles, not so much. The guy is skinnier than most of our WRs. He does not have the ability to fight for that extra yard or two, simply because just isn't as strong.
- Baylor's sense of urgency on the first possession in the second half. So Baylor is down 14-3 with 13 or 14 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, on their own 32 with a 4th and 1 situation. Easy call here, punt the ball right? NOPE! Instead, Baylor goes for it on 4th and 1, doesn't make it, and it sets up an ISU field goal. Just way too early to be thinking of going for it, but I guess it says a lot about what the coach thought of his team's chances of getting back in the game.
What I didn't like:
- Getting off to a slow start. The first quarter was pretty unimpressive from both sides. Just bad offensive execution, and some bad defense as well. Often times the first handful of plays offensivley are scripted and/or they are plays that you worked on a lot that week. It'd be nice to get an opening TD or something like that.
- Bad tackling. Baylor had to abandon the run due to getting down early, but their RBs picked up many extra yards (especially in that first quarter) due to mistackling. The same goes for their WRs on the short passes. I think we did a better job of it as the game went on, but how we started could have really hurted us if we were playing a better offense.
Arnaud's interception. Not trying to throw him under the bus or anything like that, but when you have the chance to go up 14-3, and you throw a pick in the end zone, giving the other team enough time to go down the field to make it a 1 possession game, it's not good. Fortunatley, Baylor's offense fizzled about midfield, but it could've been 14-10, or 14-6, with Baylor getting the ball first in the third quarter. A better team, may have hurt us more off the turnover.
- Baylor's weak ass offense. Honestly, this was the weakest shit I've seen from a Big 12 team in a while. The story of their offense was screen passes. At first they worked as ISU had issues with tackling, but eventually the effectiveness was lost. Maybe part of this was due to their QB's lack of ability, but there are plenty of holes in the secondary down the field. Now, I like short passes, but you have to mix it up with taking some shots down the field to keep the defense honest. As an ISU fan, I liked this, but I think there was some poor play calling with Baylor.
Missing too many field goals. The first one, I won't hold against Mahoney as it was a 50 yarder, which I think is in his range but one can't look at is as an automatic in college football at all. The other two were from 35 and 30 yards away, however. I think on all of these they were too wide. I know nothing about kicking, but I hope he figures it out. Against better teams, we may need those 6 to 9 points we left on the field.
- Lack of QB pressure on defense. ISU had one official sack, and it was a coverage sack as their QB had a lot of time to throw, but simply no one was open. There were some other times they brought down the QB, but in the stats, it just goes as a run for negative yards. Still, those were mostly due to the QB having 4+ seconds to throw, couldn't find anyone, ran around and got brought down. Against KU we saw what giving too much time to a QB can do to you. We did have 5 QB hurries vs. 0 last week against KU, so perhaps we are improving, but it isn't as much as I'd like to see. As long was the opposing QB has plenty of time, the good ones will hurt us. Fortunatley, Szymanski is not a good QB.
I am happy that the team won, but this was a game that could have been a blowout had the execution been better. We need to play better than this if we are going to beat a Nebraska.
- Alexander Robinson appeared to have reinjured himself yet again, and it didn't look good. Getting all the way back from an injured groin takes a good amount of rest. I just hope he's alright.
- Austen Arnaud left the game in the third quarter due to a bruised throwing hand. This is why Tiller played for almost the entire second half.
After suspending for a week, I've decided to bring my props back:
- Marquis Hamilton - 9 catches for 97 yards, including hanging on to a big hit from Jordan Lake coming across the middle. In my pregame writeup, I talked about our receivers holding onto the ball coming across the middle because Lake is the kind of hard-hitting safety that will make you pay.
- Josh Lenz - 7 catches for 43 yards, with no drops either. I'm just impressed that this guy is finding his way on the field and making plays. Before the season had started, I thought no way he'd see some time, but he has, and done pretty well.
- Derrick Catlett - 5 catches for 52 yards, and 1 TD
Jerome Tiller - 7 of 8 passing for 48 yards, and 10 rushes for 74 yards and 1 TD. Took advantage of having the chance to play for almost half of the game. Still has a lot to work on, but we didn't lose anything by having Tiller out there, which is great to have in a backup.
- Fred Garrin - 7 tackles, 2 interceptions. Yes the balls were thrown right to him, but I see many linebackers dropping these balls. Both of these were as Baylor was starting to get into Cyclone territory and were drive-killers for them.
Leonard Johnson - 5 tackles (one for loss), 1 interception. Made a nice jumping catch near the sideline on a deep pass to prevent the big play from Baylor.
Now the attention turns to Nebraska next week. Nebraska is the better team in my mind, but who knows what will happen? The Big 12 just saw Colorado beat KU (and ISU almost beat KU), and K-State put up 62 points against aTm.