INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
Independence nearly matc ... »
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IOWA CITY — There were high-definition video screens, cellphone flashlights that looked like giant fireflies in the night, and beer and wine available in third-floor suites.
But this Kinnick Stadium evening looked like a lot of afternoons here and in Ames when Iowa and Iowa State met in the mid-1980s and Kirk Ferentz coached offensive lines for Hayden Fry that crushed ISU defensive lines.
Iowa State got pulverized by Iowa Saturday night in Kinnick. The performance gap was clear-cut, the talent gap obvious.
The run of scores in this series from 1983 to 1987 was Iowa 51-10, 59-21, 57-3, 43-7 and 48-9. The Hawkeyes were a team without mercy for their state-rivals then, and were likewise Saturday night. This one was 42-3 and every bit as brutal as those beatings of yesteryear.
The play of many good plays for the Hawkeyes came in the second quarter when C.J. Beathard threw off his back foot from the ISU 24-yard line and still put the ball in a perfect spot in the right side of the end zone. Matt VandeBerg, who spliced together a nice highlight tape for pro scouts, got behind Cyclone linebacker D’Andre Payne and made a leaping, cradling catch.
That, Iowa State could do nothing about. It did force Beathard out of the pocket, but he made a great throw and VandeBerg a superb catch.
But the first-half was a combination of the Hawkeyes inflicting a lot of damage to the Cyclones and the Cyclones inflicting a lot of damage to the Cyclones.
Don’t dismiss how well Iowa played. The saying that teams make their most improvement between their first and second games usually lacks support, but it sure looked valid in the Hawkeyes’ case.
This was a team that looked well-prepared in all phases of the game and played with a lot of purpose and confidence. It’s a good team. Maybe it’s significantly more. We’ll need to see it against some real competition to make that call.
Five-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State brings an 11-game winning streak here next Saturday. It won’t extend that to 12, but will at least bring a team with winning DNA.
Iowa State fired Paul Rhoads after last season because all was far from great in the program, and replacement Matt Campbell can’t make it all wonderful with a one-year wave of a wand.
Campbell has never coached a club that was outgunned like this one was Saturday. His Toledo teams at least competed in losses at Florida and Missouri, and won at Arkansas last year. How he responds to this will be telling.
Patience will be a virtue. His fans can give him graduate-level courses on that.
If nothing else, Campbell needs to teach his guys to quit committing personal foul penalties that keep opposing drives alive.
In the second quarter, ISU senior defensive end Jhaustin Thomas sacked Beathard on 3rd-and-6 at the ISU 9. Which would have been a great play and a moral victory had Thomas not begun the tackle by grabbing Beathard’s face mask.
Beathard ran one yard for a touchdown two plays later, and it was 28-3. The first three Iowa scores came on Beathard passes, giving him six against the Cyclones in two years.
Meanwhile, Iowa State’s first-half offense functioned best on keepers by Lanning, which isn’t exactly what Matt Campbell wants to be the key component of his attack.
Mike Warren, a sophomore running back who earned acclaim for his freshman year-efforts, was a non-factor for the second-straight game.
The Cyclones had a 1st-and-goal at the Iowa 4 late in the first quarter, but freshman defensive end Anthony Nelson and senior Jaleel Johnson had back-to-back sacks, and Iowa State settled for a field goal.
Your basic morale-killer is what that was to the ISU offense.
Anthony Nelson picked up where he left off the week before when he tormented Miami (Ohio). Sophomore defensive end Matt Nelson of Cedar Rapids ended the half with a sack of his own for the Hawkeyes.
Campbell needs a few Nelsons of its own. And a half-dozen offensive linemen like Iowa’s, a quarterback like Beathard …