OSU-Iowa State: One player, one problem, one preposterous prediction and one pick

OSU-Iowa State: One player, one problem, one preposterous prediction and one pick

Guerin Emig: I have no inside information about Mike Gundy’s plan this week, just a notion that he trots out one quarterback instead of three. To do otherwise in the fourth game of the season, the first conference game, is to suggest he’s more theater of the absurd director than head football coach.

Guerin Emig

By Guerin Emig

| Sep 22, 2023, 2:21pm CDT

Guerin Emig

By Guerin Emig

Sep 22, 2023, 2:21pm CDT

This is a matchup fit for Oscar the Grouch. I mean just look at this statistical carnage:

OSU’s offense ranks 111th in FBS, Iowa State’s ranks 127th. The only worse offenses than ISU’s are Eastern Michigan’s, Akron’s and East Carolina’s. 

OSU’s rush offense ranks 105th, Iowa State’s ranks 121st. 

OSU’s passing efficiency ranks 120th, Iowa State’s pass offense ranks 107th.

OSU’s scoring offense ties for 108th, Iowa State’s ranks 120th. 

OSU’s first down offense ties for 102nd, Iowa State’s ties for 124th.

Something’s gotta give Saturday afternoon in Ames, right? Besides the stomachs of 50,000 ISU fans recently spoiled by Breece Hall and Brock Purdy?

I sort of think something does give. And that’s why I open my OSU-ISU breakdown with one of the starting quarterbacks. 

One player: Alan Bowman

I have no inside information about Mike Gundy’s plan this week, just a notion that he trots out one quarterback instead of three. To do otherwise in the fourth game of the season, the first conference game, is to suggest he’s more theater of the absurd director than head football coach. 

Gunnar Gundy has made more plays than Bowman or Garret Rangel, yes, but he’s also teetering on disaster plays. I counted three passes during one third-quarter stretch against South Alabama that could or should have been intercepted but weren’t. 

Bowman did throw a pick in the second quarter, the ugly result of a misread or miscommunication involving intended receiver Talyn Shettron. A reasonable reaction in that moment: Well that’s what happens when you split practice reps between three QBs. The offense has no shot to coalesce. 

I assume Gundy is at least going to give his offense a chance to coalesce this week. Let’s see what happens if he starts Bowman and leaves him in longer than four series.

OSU’s offensive line remains suspect regardless of the quarterback behind it. Bowman can’t help that, which means he isn’t likely to get much assistance from a running game. 

But at least Gundy, offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn and QBs coach Tim Rattay can formulate a plan based on what one quarterback can do, not what three might do. 

Whether the plan works, and Bowman seizes the position, is up for debate. I just think we’ve reached critical mass on finding out. 

One problem: Now for ISU’s defensive numbers

The Cyclones rank fifth in FBS in pass efficiency defense, ninth in total defense, 20th in scoring defense, 21st in first down defense and 23rd in third down defense. 

Normally, this is the part where you’d counter, “Yeah but they’ve played Northern Iowa, Iowa and Ohio… an FCS team, a team with the 119th-rated offense and a team with the 108th.”

OK… But have another look at OSU’s stats. The Cowboys aren’t gunning for touchdowns so much as first downs here. 

“They’re really good on defense,” Gundy said of the Cyclones this week. “They’re going to do what they do.”

And under a coordinator who has been alongside Matt Campbell all eight of Campbell’s Iowa State seasons. Jon Heacock has an advantage over first-year OSU defensive coordinator Bryan Nardo due to comfort with players and experience teaching them his system. 

The Cowboys will get there with Nardo. The Cyclones have been there with Heacock. 

One preposterous prediction: OSU finds a way

It feels like Gundy has worked out of a thousand jams since that 2014 night Bob Stoops elected to punt a second time to Tyreek Hill. I don’t know if he’s a genius, a witch doctor, the luckiest coach in America or a combination of all three.

I’m not sure he has ever been more cornered, or criticized, since that notorious ‘14 season where it felt like he’d rather be anywhere but Stillwater. Nobody saw a way back until Hill caught that punt. 

Nobody sees a way back now, given what happened against South Alabama. 

I don’t know if Gundy sees one, honestly, but here’s predicting he finds one. Or stumbles onto one. However it happens, it does happen Saturday. 

Bowman plays solidly, is supported by his receivers’ and his defenses’ best efforts of the season and Iowa State continues to make a mess of offensive football.

One pick: Pokes 18, Clones 12

 

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Guerin Emig is a columnist for the Sellout Crowd network. Read his work at selloutcrowd.com and guerinemig.com. Reach out with feedback and/or ideas at [email protected] or (918) 629-6229. Follow him on Twitter at @GuerinEmig and Instagram at @guerin.emig. .

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