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What to Watch for in the UNI Game

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I feel that it’s a little strange that a game versus FCS UNI is such a pivotal moment in the 2010 season for the Cyclones. This Saturday is an extraordinarily important game for us, regardless of what people say. Yes, we’re supposed to win, but historically the Cyclones have struggled to put away opponents we’re "supposed" to beat. That has to change if the Cyclones want to take the next step as a football program. With that in mind, there are several things I’ll be watching for on Saturday.

How Does the Team Perform Psychologically?

This is a very subjective question, but should be easy to see. I’d like to see the team come out looking determined and professional, with a fire in their eyes. I’d like to see the team methodically do everything right with no penalties or mistakes. This should be a glorified scrimmage, but I want the team to use the opportunity to build confidence and practice not making mistakes.

Playbook Selection

As I mentioned in a previous post, the playbook selection from the sideline has been surprising all season. I’d really like to see a more effective running game established in this game than has been the case in the previous two games. Alexander Robinson has been a virtual non-entity this season and that has to stop.

Quarterback/WR Play

I don’t think there’s a whole lot to say here other than it needs to be better. Arnaud threw no interceptions in Kansas City and that was fantastic, but the completion percentage needs to go up. For all the talk about how deep our WR corps was this fall, they’ve really dropped the ball (literally) and blown routes far too often. It’s time to put on the big boy pads and step up. The truth of the matter is that we’re not going to beat teams like Texas Tech or Utah defensively, we need to put up points and lots of them.

Defensive Improvement

I’m not looking for miracles on the defensive side of the ball. I don’t expect us to come out and stop every UNI drive with a 3 and out, but the defense played a lot better in the 2nd half last weekend than they did in the first half. The first half Daniel Thomas did whatever he felt like and ran us over. If the defense improves even a little bit this Saturday, I’ll feel a lot better. Continuous improvement is something Coach Rhoads talked about this summer and I’m hoping to see it.

Overall I’m confident we’ll win this game regardless, but if we want to win any more this season, we need to use this game to improve and as a springboard into a nightmarish October.