As much as any fan has pride in their team, it always hurts when you see the signs of implosion about to occur and their is nothing you can do to stop it but yell and curse your own take on the situation. That’s what happened when the San Jose State Spartans took on Iowa State Cyclones at home in Ames, IA. Now, to be real, neither team is known to be a dominating force on the football field. Yet, the Spartans handed the Cyclones the control to their antique ferrari and couldn’t erase the mileage that had been accumulated, similar to Cameron’s reaction to Ferris. May as well trash it and reap the consequences, that person being HC Ron Caragher, now in his 4th year at San Jose State with a middling level of success. Now to review my previous post on the expectations of the Spartans and how it stacks up from a Good, Bad and UGLY standpoint.
To the point, not much good can be taken from this game. From an optimisitic view on the Spartans rushing game, RB Zamore Zigler (RS-Freshman) showed life of a rushing attack. He rushed for 104 yards on 24 carries for the Spartans, for an average of 4.3 yards per carry and a long of 15 yards. The Spartans had 177 yards on 47 attempts (3.76 yards per carry) for the day. Though that looked like a strong effort from Iowa State's rush defense, the Cyclones allowed three different Spartans to pick up 13 or more yards on a single carry. I’m liking what I see in the prospects of Zigler being a real highlight of this team going forward.
To help differentiate between Bad and UGLY, the Bad portion will focus on how badly the Spartans played to make the other team look Good. There was plenty of that to be seen from Saturday’s debacle. New HC Matt Campbell has been preaching to his Cyclones about “following the process.” The Spartans handed him the Iowa State faithful’s hearts like a poor replication of Jim Jones with his kool-aid.
Of course, I mentioned Cylcone’s RB Mike Warren and the need to stuff his down-hill style of running. Well, he rushed for a season-high 103 yards on 19 carries for an average of 5.4 yards per carry and 1 touchdown. My next crystal ball reading was to mock the carousel of quarterbacks of Iowa State’s lack of success, only to have a measure of success in the rotation. QB Joel Lanning and QB Jacob Park both boosted their stats for the year. Lanning threw 5/8 (62.5% completion) for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns. His counterpart, Park, threw 15/19 (78.9% completion) for 165 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jesus! The Spartans made HC Campbell look like a freaking genius with 503 yards in total offense!
Finally, the straw that broke the camel’s back was the receiving corps of Iowa State showing signs of life. Six of the wide receivers with 3 or more catches was averaging 16 yards per reception. Yet, can all of the blame be placed at the feet of the defense? Well, when you have 4 turnovers on offense, its hard to say. But more of that in UGLY.
With early expectations of success against a lower-tiered P5 team, to only fail miserably, is like ripping a dagger out of your chest. With the focus of the offensive line providing protection for a mobile QB Kenny Potter, this was the supposed edge in the game. The lack of the injured Potter was evident from the beginning, with replacement QB Josh Love (RS-Freshman) who threw 13/27 (48% completion) for 155 yards for 1 touchdown and 4 INTERCEPTIONS. His final quarterback rating was a whopping 4.9. While the Spartans controlled 57.5% of the game clock, nothing much is going to show for it with this type of production line:
- FIELD GOAL
That’s just the 1st half! It doesn’t get much better, but you get the idea. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. I like apple with a little bit of sugar on top, not the blight of football: interceptions and fumbles.
The Spartans gave up 4 turnovers which helped the Cyclones to capitalize and convert it into 24 points on the scoreboard. While at the same time, the Spartans did have 1 turnover recovery in a first half fumble, but were unable to take advantage and turned the ball over on the next series with an interception. The summation of the Spartans effort is a visual experience of Jason Paul-Pierre’s right hand after holding onto the firework for too long. Damaging and scarring on a mental and physical level.
The hope for a repeat back-to-back bowl appearance for the Spartans is fading fast with a long look back to the 1986-87 seasons. It remains to be seen if Potter will be back next week, as well, as defensive captain LB Chrisitan Tago. All that can be hoped for is a bit more Good than UGLY next week at New Mexico on October 1st.