I had the pleasure of attending the opening game of Iowa State’s football season on Thursday night. Going to Iowa State home games is a family tradition. I have had season tickets since 1983. That means I have seen lots and lots of Iowa State history. I have a friend currently working a rehabilitation program for addiction. On Monday and Tuesday nights I go down to the Powell Center for educational sessions and a “Concerned Persons” support group. I bring this up because last Monday during the educational session the speaker spoke eloquently about the power of “spiritual places”. Jack Trice Stadium is a spiritual place for me.
Being a well salted Cyclone fan, I feel that I am borderline psychic. The gent that I attend games with, Jason, is in the same vein. For example, before the Cyclones’ failed field goal attempt, Jason looked at me and said: “We’re not going to get a good snap.” A second later, the ball flew over Austin Flynn’s head. Flynn made a valiant attempt to get the first down, but his pass attempt fell to the ground incomplete.
I knew going into the game that Iowa State would struggle in this game. We always stink it up in the first game. This often leads to false confidence on the part of Iowa fans, such as in 2005. It was not a big surprise to me when ISU’s defense and special teams were atrocious. I take heart in the fact that teams always make the most progress between the first and second game. Plus, Toledo is a good team. They will win more games than us this year. They will go to a bowl game.
Here are my observations placed in a “Good News—Bad News” format:
GOOD NEWS: Stevie Hicks looked quick, fast, and strong.
BAD NEWS: He only gained 89 yards, fumbled the ball once, and missed a block that resulted in a 15 yard sack of Brett Myers that ended a drive. For all of his improvement, his longest run was for 12 yards. For a school that once had the following people toting the ball: Dwayne Crutchfield, Dexter Green, Joe Henderson, Blaise Bryant, Troy Davis, Darren Davis, and Ennis Haywood; the bar has been dangerously lowered. It has gotten to the point that we talk enthusiastically about a guy who’s best effort netted us 12 yards. Troy Davis would have come back to the huddle disappointed after a 12 yard gain. I don’t wish to dwell on the past, but it is a point of reference.
GOOD NEWS: The defense is fast and hits hard.
BAD NEWS: They get to the wrong place fast and make hard hits after the first down has already been attained. The same dump passes that Nebraska and Baylor used to beat us last year worked again. That is reason for concern going into the Nebraska and Texas Tech games. Mike Hopkins, Toledo’s big and fast tight end, looked like a man playing with small children. He was that dominant. This makes me wonder how we are going to defend the bigger Scott Chandler of Iowa.
GOOD NEWS: We didn’t miss any field goals.
BAD NEWS: Everything else in the special teams was pretty much terrible. We blocked an extra point and then walked off the field. Allowing Mike Hopkins to pick up the ball and walk into the end zone. Two points for Toledo. We had a punt blocked. The snap to the holder was consistently bad. 2 were high and a third bounced to Flynn. We were very lucky that only 1 field goal attempt ended poorly for us. The kickoff coverage was lackluster at best. Toledo was able to consistently return the ball to the 30 yard line or better. This is a point of concern with the new shorter tees, there are going to be a lot more kickoffs returned. Even in windy Jack Trice.
GOOD NEWS: Todd Blythe scored 2 touchdowns.
BAD NEWS: He didn’t show up until the overtime.
GOOD NEWS: We won.
BAD NEWS: We probably didn’t deserve to win.
GOOD NEWS: We won an overtime game for the first time in school history.
BAD NEWS: The game never should have went into overtime. Going for two in the middle of the third quarter was a laughably bad decision.
It was about 4 or 5 years ago I began taking a camera to the game. Sitting in the stands is not what I would call a prime spot for photography, but taking me cameras allows me to engage in two of my passions at the same time. I would give you an example of what this is like, but I think you can use your imagination.
Perhaps at a later date, I will provide you with my commentary on the new pre-game additions at Jack Trice Stadium. I guarantee you there will at least one complaint about ACDC.