Season Report Card: Iowa State
Even when all seemed lost during a dismal seven-game losing streak, Paul Rhodes’ crew never gave up and won their final two games of the season to finish 3-9 (2-7 Big 12).
Things could have went differently—just look at the Texas game—but Iowa State holds its head high heading into the offseason. Here are the Cyclones’ grades for the 2013 season:
There wasn’t much to brag about on the offensive side of the ball as it dealt with some detrimental injuries along the big hefties up front. Freshman quarterback Grant Rohach looked decent at times, but threw for just 6.33 yards per attempt and was limited to do his offensive line’s woes. Iowa State scored just 24.8 points per game (No. 91 in the NCAA), including five games with 20 or less.
Iowa State’s defensive unit—usually the strength of this program—was a complete train wreck in 2013. The Cyclones owned the worst defense in the Big 12, ranking last in points allowed (36.0 per game) and couldn’t stop the run to save a life (224.0 yards). It didn’t help that they were only able to come up with a conference-worst 15 sacks, either.
Special Teams: B-
One thing Iowa State did have going for it was the punting game: Kirby Van Der Kamp had a net punt average of 37.5 yards, which ranked 47th nationally. He had a lot of practice, though, with 84 total attempts.
Coaches are judged by their overall win-loss record, and while Rhodes’ is lacking, you have to respect the way he kept the team together in 2013. How he kept everyone motivated after opening the season with a loss to a Division-1AA program, followed by a gut-wrenching defeat to Texas, a 64-point fallout to Baylor—and more—is beyond me. Shutting out Kansas and then topping West Virginia to end the season shows what kind of grasp Rhodes had on the team.
You don’t see many two-win football teams clawing for every inch in a season finale, but that’s what you got with Iowa State when it won an impressive triple-overtime performance against the Mountaineers. The Cyclones will be quick to put this season behind them, but ending the year like that at least give them a passing grade.
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