Sunday, September 03, 2006

Murph's takes on ISU's close call and Iowa's coronation of Kinnick.

The opinions are free, so take all you like.

Iowa State vs. Toledo: A lot of positives came out of this game:

-ISU, and Dan McCarney, won an overtime game. This is huge. This was more than a monkey on Mac's back, it was a 500 pound gorilla. Many football observers think coaching plays an even bigger part in OT games, so for Mac to be 0-5 lifetime, and 0-3 last year gave critics ammunition, and ISU doubts in close games. That should be over now, or at least subdued.

-Todd Blythe is good. Really good. And here's some free advice: throw him the ball more! Yes, I know, they were using coverages that blah, blah, blah. Just throw him the ball. Don't wait for overtime. They can't cover Blythe, and even if they do, he'll find a way to catch it. Iowa drove me crazy underutilizing the great Tim Dwight ten years ago. ISU may have Blythe for just one more season, this one, so again, THROW HIM THE BALL.

-Bret Meyer looks even better. I've always thought a lot of Meyer as a person, and I think more of him as a quarterback each season. He's already better than I thought he'd be. He's really using his head, not to mention his legs and arm. Meyer's an easy guy to root for.

-The Cyclones are solid up the middle. Stephenson at center, Curvey at nose tackle. Those are two really important positions, and ISU can hold its own with anyone over the football.

-Brett Culbertson made his kicks. You don't think that extra point to tie in OT was pressure? It was a lot of pressure, and the former Lincoln Rail delivered. He's a stand-up guy. I'd love to see him make one with the game on the line.

-ISU found a way to win. Winning begets winning, and in three months it won't matter that it was triple overtime, just that it was a win against a decent D1 opponent.

-The crowd was great. Jamie Pollard could run for Grand Poobah of ISU and he'd win in a landslide. Nearly every person Andy Fales talked to Thursday night gushed about Pollard's moves to make it a better atmosphere. 43,000 fans isn't bad, but still shows there's work to do. The ones who were there will be back.

-A win is a win.

And now for some of the negatives:

-Bonehead play for the ages on blocked extra point. THAT'S A LIVE FOOTBALL! PICK IT UP! Hard to believe at least one player, possibly more, forgot the play wasn't dead. They realized it when Toledo scored two points. That was a two point swing, and as you know, two points kept this game going an extra 3 periods. At least it didn't contribute to what would have been a crushing loss to the morale of cyclone nation.

-The defense looked soft at times. It's true, ISU is inexperienced in spots, but the D-backs must tighten up the cushion they're giving receivers or they'll be giving up 40+ a few more games. ISU made Toledo's quarterback looked like a veterans, and he was starting his first game.

-McCarney said before the game all the talk of Iowa State "outscoring people was a lot of happy horse crap." Well, make it: Happy Horse Crap 1, Visitors 0.

-Clones let another team back in the game. Up 20 to 8, the Cyclones again failed to put their foot on an opponent's throat. At least this time, it didn't come back to bite them as it has so many other times.

-Too much praise for Toledo. Yes, the Rockets are a good MAC team, but they're still a MAC team playing on the road at a BCS conference contender's home opener. ISU should have beaten Toledo by ten or more, and fans should expect that. Respecting the opponent is one thing, making them seem better than they are is another. Iowa State should beat Toledo at home 10 out of 10 times and it should never go to overtime. Period. The Cyclones and their coaches, not to mention the fans, need to think like that.

-Reaction after winning. You could see that for a split-second, fans were about to storm the field and players were about to go nuts, and then it hit them, "Wait, we just beat Toledo. This isn't 1996." This should almost be in the positive column.

Iowa vs. Montana:

-The stadium looks great. Kinnick was the real star Saturday. A serious upgrade from top to bottom. Iowa City on game day, Montana notwithstanding, is one of the five best college football atmospheres in America, at least of the ones I've visited, and I've been to a bunch. It just doesn't get any better, or if it does, not by much.

-Kinnick Statue. The new "must see" attraction. As our Shawn Terrell pointed out, you'll see this statue with Hawkeye fans on a lot of Christmas cards and e-mails. Nile Kinnick was the real deal, and this was a great idea.

-Oh yeah, Iowa won. Can't remember when an Iowa football game was less dissected and analyzed ahead of time, but come on, it's Montana. The Grizzlies are a great 1AA team, but completely mismatched against Iowa. The Hawkeyes won, and won going away, so that's all that really matters, and all anyone expected.

-Tate and Young looked good. No surprise. Tate seems to be enjoying himself more this season, he would almost have to, while Young is underrated, as usual. Didn't take a hit all of August. Didn't matter.
-Austin Signor can kick. He's no Kyle Schlicher, not yet anyway, but he doesn't need to be. Signor gives Iowa a credible option until Schlicher's leg heals.

-The defense looked solid. But what else could we expect against Montana.

On the negative side:

-Iowa played Montana. I know games like this are here to stay, and Iowa's not the only one scheduling controlled scrimmages at game prices, but it sure is a different vibe than a game in doubt. I suppose it beats pre-season games, like in the NFL, but not by much. If the Missouri Tigers had some backbone, the season would have looked more interesting.

-Kyle Schlicher was hurt. Let's hope it's nothing serious. The thunderfoot from Ankeny is a difference-maker for Iowa.

-Herb Grigsby and Kenny Iwebema were suspended. If ever a suspension failed to weaken a team's chances of winning or worried a fan base, this was it, but only because---have I mentioned this---Iowa played Montana.

-11 a.m. kickoff. I know some people like these, but I'm not one of them. I enjoy a few more hours of tailgating---when I'm not working, of course. This week I stayed at home.

-ESPNU. Mediacom doesn't have this channel, and I have Mediacom. Let's make sure it doesn't happen again or I'll have to break down and get the dish. On the other hand, it's always nice to go to a restaurant or bar and have a shared experience with other football fans.

-Slow start. The offense looked sluggish, but football is a very emotional game. I played for ten years, and it does matter how much you get up for the game. It's hard to get up for a team you know you're going to beat even if you fail to execute. 17-7 raised eyebrows, but it was never in doubt. Iowa could score whenever it really wanted to.

I'll close by congratulating Drake on improving its game atmosphere by leaps and bounds. The Bulldogs had everything they needed Thursday night, except a way to slow down UNI. The Panthers look like future national champions to me.

I'll be back next time to catch up on the non-football stuff.

As always, thank you for reading and for the feedback.



Jeff C. said...


I am a huge fan of the WHO TV Sports team. The way you and Andy interact with the other members of the newsteam makes it fun to watch.

I came to a realization the other night during the ISU IS difficult for a Hawkeye fan such as I to TRULY cheer for an intrastate rival when they're not playing your team. I started believing I could, but by the 3rd qtr. I just couldn't bring myself to continue cheering for them and I started pulling for Toledo. However, I must say that Todd Blythe is an amazing receiver and that was an amazing catch he made to win the game. I'm looking forward to seeing which NFL team drafts him next April.

I was as ticked off as you were about Iowa's game being on ESPNU as I am also a Mediacom customer. I also do not like the fact that Mediacom does not carry the NFL Network! GRRRRRRRRRRRR!!! Well, that's enough of my ranting and raving. Take care and keep up the good work Keith! :-)


Courtney Greene said...

Hey Murph,

Glad to see you're back on the blog. Maybe this is a comment for "What's Bugging Andy," but the one thing that really gets me fired up is watching NFL, college football, NBA, and college basketball players posing and posturing. Last week's ISU game where the other team picked up the "live ball" and ran it in for two points inspired me to write.

Unless you've won the game—decidedly—knock that crap off. Just because you sack the quarterback or score a touchdown, and then start flexing your muscles or pulling your chinstraps and skipping all over, taunting your opponent; you look like a complete idiot. Or during basketball season, when players steal the ball and go coast to coast for the score, then grab the front straps of their jersey and pump their number, sets a horrible example for little kids.

I wish some of these kids would take a page out of the playbooks of former football and basketball icons like Marcus Allen and Michael Jordan. I had the chance to get to know Marcus Allen when I was in Kansas City. I admire his sportsmanship as much, if not more, than his incredible athletic ability. Whenever he scored a touchdown, he ran it in and immediately ran to the sidelines to get ready for the next play. He didn't do any of the ludicrous things I can't even put in this blog that I've seen NFL players do over the past few seasons. And Michael Jordan was the platinum standard. The only time I remember him celebrating was after winning championship games, and when he did, it was a joy to watch because it was about appreciating the accomplishment and savoring the victory, and not about getting in the face of the opposing team.

I wish that coaches would bench players who show their immaturity, or even better yet, I would like to see refs penalize teams for excessive posturing. A 15-yard penalty, for several consecutive downs might make these young people think before pounding their chests and getting in their opponents' faces.

Let's end the culture of posturing and posing. It takes away from the pure pleasure of the game. You don't have to roll like that to keep it real. Playing hard, playing smart and playing fair, makes it a winning experience that keeps it real for the fans.

Take care and have a great week. Keep it real, b/c that's how I roll.


Kathy said...

I for one do not like a Thursday night game. We did not get home till 1:00 a.m. With Friday a work day many people were unhappy. I had to use a vacation day just to attend the game. Please no more week night games.

ISU defense better get tough or we are in for a long season.

I and everyone in the stands Thursday were echoing the same cry, "throw the ball to Blythe!!!!"


Anonymous said...

That was pure genius of McCarney to come up with a game plan to have Toledo score 43 points on them only to beat them 45-43 in triple overtime. That was great for fan appreciation.

Also, ISU is in for a long season if they keep playing like they did against Toledo. I was in Autographs watching the game and all the fans acted like they won the national championship. I and all my friends with me who are not ISU fans were laughing. Walking out my friend said something that is so true, "They'd have a good game against Creighton!"

I upgraded my dish for one day to view the Iowa game. Although they played Montana, they still looked pretty solid, however, it would have been better if Iwebema and Grigsby were playing. Hopefully, they learned their lesson.

Emily said...

Courtney = Genius. I echo everything you said. It's bad enough to see the Egos Gone Wild at the professional and collegiate level....but I drew the line when I saw "strutting" at a high school game on Friday. Enough is enough, and you took the words out of my mouth on your post.

Murph, you got it right, as usual: Give ISU's Blythe the ball, give Austin Signor more opportunities to put his boot into action, and let's sit back and enjoy Drew Tate in the pocket. AND, let's push those Hawkeye games back a couple hours for the fans. :)

Love the blog.

Alan said...

Just wanted to leave a quick response to what anonymous said above. I think most ISU fans (including myself) were unhappy about the performance against Toledo. All you had to do was listen to the post-game call-in show to hear that. We made all kinds of mistakes (especially in Defense and special teams). We need to improve quickly to compete in the Big 12.

But did I cheer when we pulled out the game in OT? Heck yeah. That's what fans do. Cheer on the kids while they are playing, enjoy the victories when they come, and at least save your belly-aching for the drive home.

Maybe Hawk fans can't cheer for their team unless they win by three touchdowns or more. Glad I'm not a Hawk then.

Anonymous said...

Oh, come on now alan, you know all the ISU fans cheered like they won the national champoinship against Toledo. You better still be cheering about the Toledo game because ISU isn't going to beat UNLV, not if they play like they played against Toledo. You're just a typical Iowa State fan, you miss the point. That's fine though, I forgive you.