Football

Monday Morning Quarterback : Iowa State

Staking the Plains staff look at some key aspects of the 66-31 win over the Iowa State Cyclones.

That one was a fun one to watch as Tech got back on track with a big one over Iowa State. There’s still plenty to work on for Tech, but they took care of the ball, moved up and down the field seemingly at will, and beat a solid Iowa State team that has played Tech close lately.

This week we’re looking at third down efficiency; the rushing yards, where Tech gave up a lot of yards with a high ypc and yet outpaced Iowa State; and how Tech got back on the turnover creating wagon.

73% vs 33%

Michael_LSRR – Including a ridiculous 3rd and 30 conversion in the first half, Tech’s offense ended up at a 73% 3rd down conversion rate. What surprised me, though, was to find out that at 55.3% overall, Tech currently leads the country in 3rd down conversions. All of this takes me back to how many times I’ve breathed a sigh of relief this season when our offense was able to get that first down. As great as that is, our defense comes in at 123rd allowing 52.1% of attempted 3rd downs. Saturday showed some significant improvement by holding Iowa State to just 33% and forcing 4th down attempts. I think we would all like to see more of that.

Brian DonCarlos – Long live Pat Mahomes. As has been noted before, this offense looks completely different with PMII behind the wheel, and I haven’t had the sort of confidence in them picking up 1st downs and scoring like this since 2008. Recall that 3rd & 30 play Saturday, where Mahomes drops back, eludes a tackle (again) and scrambles right towards the sideline. He has plenty of room to run for a modest gain, and it seems like he’s about to do that. However, modest gains aren’t really Pat’s flow, and he instead keeps his eyes downfield, sets his feet just behind the line of scrimmage (the location of which he was clearly cognizant of the entire time), and lasers a pass right to Ja’Deion High for a first down. I was in awe at the way he just hopped back and set his feet as he neared the LOS and the way he just completes plays. We’re going to run out of ways to describe how incredible he his. Maybe Grand Inquisitor Skippable is right, and Pat really is practicing witchcraft.

As for the defense, I’ll take the 33% conversion from this unit any day. If they can just get off the field and let the offense do their thing, we’re going to be in every single game the rest of the season. Allowing the opponent to continue to convert on 3rd downs is pretty disheartening, so it’s great to watch Tech’s defense finally stop drives, especially in the red zone.

MeestahRogers – Tech converted on 73% of their third down opportunities against the Cyclones, including a 3rd and 30. The offense was able to maintain drive and not get bogged down too frequently. Mahomes and the offense was humming today, obviously when they set a new school yardage record and tie a record for points versus a conference opponent. More importantly, the offense bounced back after a disappointing performance last week against Baylor.

Defensively, Tech held Iowa State to 5 of 15 on third downs, good for 33%. Tech was able to slow down the Cyclone offense and keep them off balance enough, especially in the second half. Tech surrendered only 10 points in the second half, with that touchdown coming with only a minute left in the game. I know David Gibbs has said that he doesn’t really make any adjustments in the locker room at half time, but the defense was able to slow down the Cyclones enough to allow the offense to widen the gap and put the game away.

315, 7.0 ypc vs 261, 8.4 ypc

Michael_LSRR – The old standby of being able to run the ball on Tech will not go away overnight. Luckily, the defense seemed to do a bit more bending than breaking. Our rushing offense, on the other hand, played even better with several long gains from Washington and Stockton that were all remarkable plays.

Brian DonCarlos – Tech’s defense kind of is what it is right now, and as we saw this past game that’s not all bad. I honestly don’t know what Gibbs says at half time, but I’m loving the way the defense comes out of the locker room and starts to turn the vice in the 2nd half. Sure, they’ll still give up some yards, but those yards can’t be turned in at the ticket counter for more points. It is, however, disconcerting how easy opposing running backs are able to cut straight up the A gap. Our interior line is still getting locked up in blocks and kicked out, as are the LB’s. The good news is that the front 7 are showing flashes of being able to stop the run, so all we can hope is that those flashes turn into consistency in the back half of the schedule.

As for Tech’s rushing attack, I love the options we have. DeAndre is a pleasure to watch, and I’d love to see the play-calling give him some more opportunities to set up cut-back lanes. I hope he gets the chance to play in a zone-blocking cut-back scheme on Sundays. Stockton killed it on some stretch plays and misdirection, and I get giddy every time I see him pick up a head of steam before he hits the line of scrimmage. On top of that, we were treated to a DeMarcus Felton sighting! I love the balance the offense is showing this season.

MeestahRogers – Tech still hasn’t found an answer to stop the rushing attack, as they gave up 315 yards at 7.0 yards per carry. For a running team, the 315 yards doesn’t bother me as much as the 7 yards per carry. Mike Warren is making his presence felt as he continues to progress as a true freshman. But I was telling my brother throughout the game that there’s nothing better to see than a run oriented team slow the game down, and then not convert their drives into touchdowns. While Tech gave up a few big runs to Warren, they didn’t allow him to score like he did last week against Kansas.

Offensively, Tech ran the ball at an even better clip than Iowa State, which lessens the blow of the defensive performance. They ran for 261 yards, but at 8.4 yards per carry. DeAndre Washington, Justin Stockton and DeMarcus Felton all had long runs. The offense was able to open up lanes for the fastest players, getting them alone in space so they can do their damage. I would expect Tech to be able to do this big time next week.

+3

Michael_LSRR – Getting an interception on Iowa State’s first pass of the game had to be a pretty mean gut punch. Thanks to two more by J.J. Gaines in the second half, Tech is back up to +5 overall for the season. This places the Red Raiders tied for 20th in the country. I still marvel at that stat knowing how much they have climbed from last year.

Brian DonCarlos – Gibbs Ball back!? The +3 on the day (though it should have been +5), was a welcome sight after the past 2 weeks. Both of Madison’s picks were great plays, and it’s a shame that only one of them will get to show up in the box score. Gaines capitalized on being in the right place at the right time, and also forced a fumble to boot (though the refs didn’t catch the play nor did they review it). After how maligned the secondary has been after the TCU & Baylor game, they needed a game like this. All of the turnovers lead to points, if I recall correctly, and this again goes back into the idea of our defense allowing our offense a chance to do their thing. If the defense continues on the trajectory it’s shown for 4 of the 6 games they’ve played, the Gibbs + Kingsbury partnership will go on to be the epitome of a symbiotic relationship. Just beautiful. There was also a definite blood in the water type feel for the defense in the second half, so fingers crossed that’s not the last we see of that. Oh, and Malik Jenkins also almost pulled in another interception.

MeestahRogers – Getting that interception on the first offensive snap for Iowa State really set the tone for Sam Richardson. With a decent pass rush, even sacking him a few times, Richardson was never really comfortable in the pocket and forced a few throws. JJ Gaines came up big with two interceptions from his safety position (thank you Don Williams, for reporting that in fact Gaines has not forgotten how to play the position he’s played for three years at Tech). The defensive backs seemed to feed off those interceptions and gained confidence, were jumping routes and getting their hands on the ball.

Also, #BallDontLie as Iowa State turned the ball over three times on one of their drives, but the referees missed the first two and they weren’t reviewed. We also got another AJ sports staff reporting nugget as Don Williams felt the need to say that the Tech offense was actually set back a few yards with Gaines catching that second interception as it happened on 4th down, you know, because when a defensive back catches an interception, they think “should I catch this or nah?” Sheesh.

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