Iowa State’s performance was sloppy — at best — against Iowa.
When kids first start playing football, they are taught the basic fundamentals of the game. How to block, lineup in a certain formation and tackle correctly. But when Iowa State traveled to take in-state rival Iowa, the Cyclones seemed like they forgot those basic teachings.
The Cyclones got pulverized by the Hawkeyes Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium — 42-3. And Iowa State’s performance against Iowa showed that it still needs to fix the fundamentals — starting with penalties.
The penalty problems popped up in the Cyclones’ season opening 25-20 loss to the UNI Panthers–as they were penalized nine times for 89 yards. And those problems carried over to the Iowa game. Iowa State struggled early and often with penalties with the Hawkeyes as they finished with 10 whistles for 73 yards.
Those penalties put the Cyclones in a hole early.
Iowa State got penalized five times for 48 yards in the first half alone. Those five miscues put the Cyclones in a 28-3 deficit at halftime and kept them there for the remainder of the game.
One penalty that stands out is one that occurred toward the end of the first half.
Iowa was leading Iowa State 21-3 and had the ball at the Cyclones’ nine-yard line in a third and six situation. Hawkeye quarterback C.J. Beathard dropped back to pass but was sacked by Cyclone defensive lineman Jhaustin Thomas for an 11-yard loss. That would have led Iowa to a field goal, which would be a better outcome than a touchdown for Iowa State. However, Thomas was called for a facemask, which gave the Hawkeyes a first down; Iowa then was able to score a touchdown to go up 28-3.
But that penalty wasn’t the only pragmatic miscue the Cyclones committed Saturday night.
Iowa State was called for an illegal formation penalty and then quarterback Joel Lanning was sacked to end the first half. Then late in fourth quarter, the Cyclones were called for two ineligible receivers penalties in three plays.
“There was just no flow to Iowa State football on either side,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said after the loss.
While the nine infractions damaged the flow for both sides of the ball for Iowa State, it hindered the Cyclones’ offense the most.
The Iowa State rushing attack made a slight improvement from game one to game two–51 to 126 yards. However, for the second straight game, running back Mike Warren was nonexistent for Iowa State, which is very concerning for this team.
Last year, Warren led all freshman running backs with 1,339 yards. But so far in the 2016 season, Warren doesn’t look like he will even get close to 1,000 yards.
Against UNI, the sophomore back carried the ball 12 times for 30 yards. But when the Cyclones took on the Hawkeyes, Warren’s attempts decreased to seven and his yardage to 28.
Now, Warren’s performance thus far can be attributed to the offensive line’s execution of blocking.
Iowa State’s offensive line so far has failed to create holes for Warren to run through. But whenever Warren is able to burst for a long run, it’s called back due to a holding penalty by the offensive line. The Cyclones’ longest run in two games during this 2016 is 12 yards. Warren and the running game needs to get going if the Iowa State wants to be remotely successful this season.
The list of what’s wrong with Iowa State can go on and on: trying to arm tackle when you should wrap up, the offensive and defensive lines not getting enough push, the running game being lackluster and so on. But it’s ultimately the penalties that are doing the Cyclones in in 2016.
— Heavens! (@HeavensHawkeye) September 11, 2016
“There were spurts where I thought we were able to get some momentum and then as soon as we would get some momentum, you know there was penalties or us self-destructing that took yourselves out of it,” Campbell said.
If Iowa State wants to reverse its — so far — unlucky fortunes, the first step will start with decreasing the amount of penalties it commits. If the Cyclones can’t do that, then it will be another long and dreadful football season in Ames.