GAME ONE OBSERVATIONS

After taking in the season opener live at Jack Trice Stadium, and then giving the old VCR a workout while watching the replay (yes, I said VCR, not DVR), I’ve made note of some observations.  Much of this has probably been discussed in the 36 hours since the game went final.  Some of it has not.  Here’s what I saw:

  • Arnaud looked much more agile moving within the pocket and escaping when necessary.  He seems to have improved his lateral quickness, which he utilized on a few occasions in the open field.
  • On a related note, the pass protection didn’t appear to be as solid as some have suggested.  I counted six plays where Arnaud could have been sacked if not for some nice elusiveness.  On another play, a lineman was driven backwards into Arnaud, stepping on the QB’s foot and knocking him over.
  • The difference in Arnaud’s delivery was surprisingly obvious on a number of plays.  The motion is less “swooping” in nature; the ball is held higher; and he seems to be coming over the top more.  Regardless of the intricacies, Arnaud was much more accurate and had tremendous ball placement on a number of throws to the sidelines.
  • The formation call on Arnaud’s long TD run that was called back was pretty lame.  The RT (assuming he was the culprit) was lined up a bit far from the line of scrimmage, but I’ve seen worse go uncalled.
  • Mahoney’s FG miss may not have been his fault.  There was clearly a timing issue on the snap as he started forward, stopped, then started again.  You can’t do that and make a 40+ yarder.  Rhoads was all over the long-snapper and holder on the sidelines, so that tells me the miss wasn’t on Mahoney.
  • The tackling, especially early in the game, was as bad as it looked live.  But I expect this and the penalties to get cleaned up rather quickly.
  • I loved the hurry-up QB sneak in the 1st quarter on 4th and 1 from the NIU 40.  It showed some killer instinct and it was executed perfectly to catch the Huskies back on their heals.
  • On a related note, I was happy to see us run the QB sneak again on another 4th and short later in the game, as opposed to running something out of the shotgun formation and taking the ball several yards off the line of scrimmage.
  • I heard and read a lot of comments suggesting that Mahoney was poor on his kick-offs.  He had one touchback, one fielded at around the 6, and the rest were fielded right at the goal line.  Solid kicks, especially considering the hangtime.  The problem was on the coverage, which needs to get cleaned up.
  • Kudos to Sandvig for making the most of his start with Sims on the bench.  He’s put in his time, played good soldier when he was passed up on the depth chart, and deserved to have a good game.
  • Robinson had a surprising little burst on his 63-yard TD run.  The hole at the line was massive, but the burst through the linebackers at the second level seemed more impressive than last year.  Some of this is due to health, but I’m guessing some credit should go to the strength and conditioning program.
  • The D-line’s performance was a mixed bag.  They had decent penetration at times, but only recorded one sack.  They did do an excellent job of getting their hands up as the pass was released, tipping a few balls and causing a couple of INTs.
  • I mentioned that it appeared as if Arnaud had improved his lateral quickness, and I thought the same was true for some of the receivers.  There were some decent plays made to pick up some yards after the catch.
  • The fumble call on the “backward pass” to Robinson was borderline.  It was probably a situation where the call on the field was going to be upheld either way as there wasn’t anything convincing in the replay.
  • Seeing the game replay, it’s clear why Rhoads was upset with his offensive coaches over the play calling leading up to Arnaud’s first INT.  After two consecutive QB draws, he was clearly winded or slightly dinged, as he was hunching over with his hands on his knees prior to the turnover.  In retrospect, it was probably a good place for a timeout, but I’m sure the coaches were trying to maintain the rhythm of the 2-minute offense.
  • NIU got a couple of receivers loose behind the secondary early in the 2nd half, but this was definitely a product of Iowa State still playing up to stop the run.  It was pick your poison, and Iowa State chose wisely because Grady wasn’t going to beat you.
  • Regarding the NIU fumble early in the 2nd half on 1st and goal at the 2, I would love to know how the officials ruled that Huskie ball.  The ball was obviously out, then a massive scrum ensues with an Iowa State player emerging from the pile with the football.  Regardless, it was a good defensive stand, holding NIU to a field goal.
  • Arnaud’s second INT appeared to be a decent decision in terms of picking an open receiver (Darks was 6 yards behind the defender and streaking towards the endzone), but there simply wasn’t enough air under the ball to float it over the defense.
  • It goes without saying that the whole team was pretty lackadaisical in the 3rd quarter and early in the 4th.
  • That said, NIU’s TD drive definitely woke the team up as Iowa State responded with a calm and methodical TD drive of their own.  The score may have been aided by the roughing call on 3rd down from the NIU 10, but Robinson was held up on some uncalled illegal contact on that play as he leaked out of the backfield toward the endzone.
  • I have no idea why Arnaud and Robinson were still in the game on the final scoring drive, up 14 with under five minutes to play.  Perhaps the coaches were still wanting to work on something specific, but it seemed like an unnecessary risk to me.
  • Overall, it was a solid first game, and better than I expected in many ways.

–psychlone99

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1 Comment

Filed under Cyclone Football

One response to “GAME ONE OBSERVATIONS

  1. Al

    Good observations. I’m hoping I can catch it on Big 12 replay today on FSN.

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