Cyclones run into Kansas State's strength

ISU's lack of running attack keeps offense off field

AMES – Fifty-six thousand, eight hundred fans packed Jack Trice Stadium Saturday to set a new attendance record. If stadium operations wanted to pad the number, they could’ve added 11.

Iowa State’s offense could have been included in that number. It spent the majority of its Big XII meeting with Kansas State as spectators. The Wildcat owned the ball for 40 minutes and 54 seconds.

“That’s part of their game. They came in with a great game plan. That’s what they do, they kept it away,” Iowa State running back Shontrelle Johnson said. “Anytime you can keep an offense off the field, it’s going to be hard to get momentum and get your offense in a rhythm.”

When it did get on the field, the Cyclones’ offense didn’t click, especially the run game. Quarterback Jared Barnett led the ground attack with 35 yards on eight carries. Johnson pieced together 17 yards, the most of any running back. Jeff Woody boasted the longest Cyclone run of the day with an 11 yard gain. In all Iowa State amassed 65 yards on the ground, the fewest since Nov. 13, 2010 when Colorado held the Cyclones to minus-6 yards rushing.

“Anytime you can’t run the football it hurts your offense,” Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads said.

And it hurts the time of possession. Despite posting triple-digit run totals in its first five games,  the Cyclones’ run game wasn’t anything special. Only TCU accumulated less rushing yards heading into Saturday’s contest in the Big XII.  But the Horned Frogs lead the conference in time of possession. Iowa State ranks eighth.

The backfield issues were compounded when James White, the team’s leading rusher, was ruled out with “knee issues.”

“We definitely missed him,” said Johnson, who started in place of White. “He’ll be back with us shortly but it really wasn’t a (problem).”

Running the ball was. Iowa State ran the ball 24 times, while passing the ball 36. The ratio was even worse in the second half with 21 passes compared to eight runs.

With 16 rushes in the first half, the Cyclones averaged a pedestrian 3.0 yards per carry. But it kept the Kansas state defense honest, and saw the home team possess the lead a number of times.

The second half was a different story. ISU carried the ball eight times for 12 yards. The lack of ground production led to more aerial misfires. Barnett had eight completions in both the first and second halves, but he had seven less attempts in the first half.

“We have to try to get our run game going," Barnett said. "I need to get more involved in the run game as well."

The Wildcats' quarterback, Collin Klein, took center stage on their ground attack. He carried the ball 25 times for 116 yards and three scores. John Hubert wasn't far behind with 22 carries equaling 79 yards. In all Kansas State carried the ball 52 times more than double the amount it threw it.

The methodical play led to the Wildcats possessing the ball for nearly 11 minutes of the second, third and fourth quarters. It peaked in the fourth quarter when Kansas State chewed 8:17 off the clock with a 67 yard drive. The 14 play drive saw 10 runs. Overall, to equates to less than five yards a play.

Nothing flashy or fancy, but exactly how the Wildcats want to win.

"That's what Kansas State does. I mean it is frustrating but you're not going to win a time of possession battle with Kansas State. It's just not going to happen," Woody said. "It's what they do; three yards and a cloud of dust."

Like what you're reading?

We make it easy to stay connected:

to our email newsletters
Download our free apps

Give us feedback

Have you found an error or omission in our reporting? Tell us here.
Do you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.