Ay ay ay… Thankfully the 2022 season is drawing to a close, and while there are plenty of things to look forward to (this defense sure is something), the Cyclones season leaves a lot to be desired if we end the season with a date with the 4th place Horned Frogs down in Fort Worth. Maybe Matt Campbell and company have that spark that led them to victories over OU and TCU in 2017? Maybe with some help and the APR ranking at 5-7, we can sneak into a bowl game? After all, we have already completed a national championship bid before. Maybe we can find that magical surprise from 2011 again 11 years later.
Narrator: “They didn’t.”
Let’s just say that being 24-0 down at the end of the first quarter is probably not what you want for your team. Yet whether it was the rain or the wind or the atmosphere or we were tired or whatever, the Cyclones actually found themselves 0-24 down at the end of the first quarter… and it never really got better from there . ..
Another game that included two field goals missed by freshman kicker Jace Gilbert and an over-the-head snap by punter Tyler Perkins had the Cyclones’ special teams scraping the bottom of the run again to get something right for them. Spoiler alert: Nothing did.
I really don’t know how a unit can be so abysmal for a team for so long. Nothing has ever changed. We do the same thing over and over again every week and nothing gets better. They have their moments, yes, but it seems impossible for this unit to ever put together a full four quarters of football. How does it get better? Honestly, I have no idea. At this point I don’t even know if having a dedicated coach would help at all. Sure, we have an “analyst” for the unit, but I really don’t think you need to pay someone to tell you what’s going on with the special teams. It’s bad. Very bad. Very, very, very bad.
A Hunter Dekkers Pick-Six and a Rocco Becht Pick-Six. How about we mention the fact that Xavier Hutchinson was limited to just one pair of grabs for a total of 11 yards? Or that for the first time since WEEKS it looked like the running game was finally about to kick off (nearly 200 yards combined from Sanders, Norton and Silas), but it happened in the game that we were a maximum of 48 points behind? Not exactly the game where the other team worries about running, right?
Obviously there are a TON of new people in this unit. It was Dekkers’ first year as a full starter, the running back room was without their leader for most of the year in Jirehl Brock with various injuries, the tight ends trailed behind Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen and never really had that full role until now, and receivers behind Hutchinson and Noel haven’t fully produced outside of Stanley’s occasional big play, which is an all-new offense for him. There was a lot to be said against that offense this year, but the fact of the matter is that they didn’t return the call all that often…or often enough, I should say.
Well, how about this? We completed the Trifecta this week. Yes, I also throw in the defense as a whole. They’ve been so damn good in 11 games this year and while they haven’t gotten into great situations at all all season, they let you know what hit the fan Saturday at the end of the season. Even as the defense took the 14 points away from the pick sixes, they gave up a season-high 48 points on Saturday. They got off on the wrong foot and allowed a wide-open touchdown on the opening drive, and TCU danced through them for most of the game after that as well. It was a very lackluster performance from one of the country’s best units in the first 11 games, but I think if you want to get one out of the way, it might as well be in the last game of the season if you’re not playing for a whole Crowd.
The season ended
I hate being such a Debbie Downer here. I’m trying to focus these articles towards “what can we build here for the next game” and so on. Still, part of me is really glad this season is over. The reload/rebuild/recover year is over and we can now fully focus on 2023. We were able to take some positives with us from this year. Like I said, the defense is tremendous and while there will be painful losses, the #1 defense in the Big 12 is likely to bring back a number of starters and that’s something to look forward to.
There’s a lot that needs to be worked out this season and while I’m sure we’re all frustrated with how this season went and how it ended, I think Matt Campbell and Jamie Pollard have a plan. Everyone knew this year was going to be very different and maybe even a lot worse, but I have faith in the head coach and AD to figure out the steps we need to take. We are in a great place here in the state of Iowa. Let’s retool what we need and prepare for a 2023 season with MANY returning starters leading the way.
(Plus, basketball and wrestling are in full swing now, and the Cyclones look pretty good in it all round.)
Special teams: f
Will McDonald: The Sack King
2022: No longer
As always, thank you all for reading the post-mortem articles each week. I know this year has been a bit worse than last, but believe me when I say nobody feels worse than the players and coaches who work their ass off every week trying to make a good product to market out on the field that will win games. Bigger and better things are coming in 2023 and you can bet your ass I’m buying into it. Hope to see you all back at the Jack next fall. Go Cyclones!
DeShawn Hanika on the offseason: “People have to shop in, and if you’re not ready to shop in, you have to go because we’re coming on a mission. I won’t be the embarrassment of the Big 12 again.”
— Travis Hines (@TravisHines21) November 27, 2022