2010 Season and Senior Review, Beyond Expectations!
Three months ago expectations were set forth for the upcoming Iowa State football season. Expectations inspired by coaches and players, some on a personal level and others more team driven. Student athletes who dedicate their collegiate years to become the best player they can be, coaches who dedicate their professional career to become the best teachers they can be. Together aspiring to leave a place in Iowa State history to do something no player, no team can replicate. Be it in the classroom or on the field, these expectations become the very thing that can measure the success of a program.
On the other side are the fans, the turbulent group of individuals who are engrossed into the team for a multitude of reasons. Some die-hards, others bandwagons, but none the less all passionate about one thing Ė winning! They carry another set of expectations that are to each their own. Theyíre not as team oriented or even personally driven, but carry as much weight in the eyes of the beholder. So at the seasonís end, where does one measure the success? The fans pay, but the players play Ė at the end of the season, or the end of their career, are these expectations even valid let alone achieved?
Austin Arnaud Ė The other Mayor. The guy the fans were ready to have lead this team his first year in. A star prospect out of Ames who could run and gun, something his prior successor maybe lacked. Unfortunately in due time, he came under the same scrutiny Ė the hometown, was getting booed out of town. But one must ask, what could have been? A player who has learned three systems in four years, managed to still lead all-time in completion percentage, fourth in passing touchdowns, and fifth in passing yards before even leading the team out for his final season. The TDís seemed to be followed by the INTís, but nothing matched his toughness, tenacity, and leadership. Maybe some fans are disappointed in comparison to their expectations set forth five years ago, but no one could have asked for a better person to lead and represent Iowa State like he did. His season may be over, but his legacy is not - he may still have the right to say something not many quarterbacks in Iowa State history could say, that he rallied this team to two bowl appearances in the last two years. I donít think anyone would have expected that after the record achieved the prior two years!
Alexander Robinson Ė Who? You better know who. From a fanís perspective he came from nowhere. Just another small back that may never see the field, but did he ever. From the student no one will miss, to the hard-nosed player everyone will miss, except maybe his opponents. If there is one player that exceeded expectations itís definitely A-Rob. When most people start counting from 1, he seems the need to start at 100 Ė having six 100 yard rushing games before his senior season, along with three consecutive games over 100; being the first since 2000. So what could slow him down? Apparently nothing, as injuries were only a minor setback on his pace to rush for a second 1,000 yard season and 3,000 career yards. There is no question Iowa State would be where they are today if it wasnít for his efforts on the field and in the locker room. This is one player that will be deeply missed and deserving a long overdue ovation come Saturday.
Collin Franklin & Jake Williams Ė Every team needs playmakers. Sometimes theyíre shifty, athletic type players, and sometimes theyíre just proven winners. Franklin and Williams are those proven winners. Besides the much needed ground game support that Iowa State has had, the passing game would be nowhere if it wasnít for these two guys. Time and time again balls have been thrown their way with full confidence of them doing their job, catching that pigskin. In fact, theyíre so good at it that theyíve become clear go to guys in big play situations. Nebraska, Kansas State, Texas Tech Ė all games where these young men have provided a spark and a big play that allowed our teams to stay in the game. You could easily rave about these two in their own merit, but itís their presence as dual threats that provide the ever most confidence from the fans and the coaches. The only expectation that may still be left unanswered is why did we not throw it their way more often!!
Ben Lamaak Ė When one thinks of a team player, Been Lamaak better come to mind. A student athlete who would do just about anything the coaches would ask of him. We talk about players learning new systems, how about players learning new positions Ė four of them infact. After coming to Iowa State as a Tight End, he graciously moved to Right Tackle, then Left Tackle, and finally settling as the teams ever important Center for his senior year. Offensive lineman donít get as much credit as they should, but if there was a player ever deserving of that honor, it would be Lamaak. He may not have passing yards, rushing yards, interceptions or sacks to boost his resume, but he does have the respect of the fan base, and most importantly the coaches. This may have been one player that never had expectations from a fans perspective, but if I must say so myself, he met any that could have been asked.
Rashawn Parker Ė A player who has grown in every way, literally. Maybe one of the smaller Defensive Ends to line up for Iowa State as a freshman in recent memoriy, Parker has emerged as a tenacious player that has provided the support thatís been desperately needed. I remember his first game against Toledo back in 2006 and definitely didnít expect what he has been able to provide Iowa State over his career. The only disappointment a fan may have would be to not see him finish off his impressive 2009 year campaign instead of suffering a knee injury that cost him the season.
David Simms Ė You want fire, you want raw talent, you want a game changer Ė Simms can be that guy, Iím sorry Ė is that guy! Early on it was clear the coaching staff found a player who could make a difference for that team. You didnít need fans setting expectations, Simms made his own. His way of having a nose for the ball allowed him to fill the state lines every game. Key interceptions, monster hits, and timely forced fumbles, provided game changing moments in some monumental games. Not only will his playmaking ability be missed, but his intensity on the field will as well.
Michael OíConnell & Zac Sandvig Ė These two together solidified a defensive backfield that has surprised fans and probably coaches alike. They say that two heads are better than one, and in this combo I think it proved itself why. With the secondary being one of the worst in the nation years prior, these two provided the football smarts to help push Iowa State to be one of the best. Itís not always about making the big play; instead itís about making the right play Ė the tackle, the coverage, or read that allows you to be in the spot thatís needed to do your job as a team, not as an individual. This might have been a position that fans may have expected a more talented player, but no one can question that they got the best effort and heart from these two men. Thatís what Iowa State football is all about.
Offense Ė Each player has given their all, but was it enough? At times I bet fans would have liked to have seen more, open things up a bit, but when the game is over itís about beating the other team. Two years ago I donít think anyone would have expected us to do it 11 times over two years; twice as many as the two years prior. Weíre talking about HUGE wins over teams that we never should have beat Ė even here fanís expectations can be detrimental. And letís not forget many, many close games where one play could have provided a different outcome. Our offense provided the necessary game play to keep us in games that expectations would have said otherwise. Some skilled positions could have done more in certain key moments, but in the end they have gotten the job done. My grade, Iíd say expectations met with possibly even exceeding. Iíll take 5 wins, with the possibility of 6 with the toughest schedule in the nation!
Defense Ė So whoís the weakest link on the Iowa State team? In no way would I give it to the defense. Itís because of these guys that we stayed in these games. Itís their job to keep the points off the board Ė not to put them on it. There were definitely some embarrassing showings with Utah, Oklahoma, and Colorado this year, but there have been many to be even more proud of. Iowa State is not Texas Tech and just going to outscore you to win the game, instead we proved we can stop you just the same. Touting one of the best red zone defenses in the country proves it! Many players needed to step up to make this happen, and some unexpected players did so. Jake Lattimer, AJ Klein, Jake Knott, David Simms, TeríRan Benton, and many others all came together to become a solid core that provides a strong foundation for years to come. This is one group that the coaches should be proud of. As fans I hope we are!!!
Special Teams Ė Oh yes, you donít play for Iowa State and not get some love for special teams. And where do you start? Josh Lenz for a punt return, Jeremy Reeves for an on-side return, Grant Mahoney for a fake field goal, etc. The coaches speak a lot of big plays; well the special teams have provided those in every single way. In fact, up until the fake field goal for the win against Nebraska, the special teams had converted on every fake attempted. Weíre talking 75%, this is unheard of. Some may say these gimmicky plays show the travesty that our team is to resort to these things, but consider every opponent we face now has to game plan for it. Thatís one less defender down field, one less blocker up field, and more explosive opportunities for Iowa State to swing momentum in their favor. Sometimes ďSpecial TeamsĒ can go above the stereotype outcasts of the football world and instead provide special moments that allow a team to become a winning team.
Coach Rhoads & staffĖ In reality, this should cover the whole coaching staff that Paul Rhoads assembled at Iowa State. These groups of individuals have turned a program that was the bottom feeders of the Big XII into contenders once again Ė and they did it overnight. No one would have expected that. Iowa State is about loyalty and heart, always has been, always will be. You donít go through winless decades like Iowa State has, remain a fan, and not have loyalty. You donít wear your emotion on your sleeve before you ever coach your team and not have heart. And of course you donít give the greatest locker room speech without having either of those. Coach, you speak of being proud of your players, well as fans we couldnít be any more proud than we are of you and your staff. The only expectation that lingers right now, which may be more of faith and hope, is that this staff sticks around for many years to come. That may become one of the great victories the Cyclones could have!
In closing, expectations will always remain, and hopefully continue to raise the bar that they sit on. But for the last two years they couldnít have been exceeded any more than they have. To question the direction of the team along with itís players and coaches would be foolish in a time such as now. You donít get places without taking risks, so setting reasonable expectations that sometimes involves those risks is only appropriate. The season isnít over, and we still shouldnít just accept what the team has achieved to this point, something I doubt they would do either, but when itís all said and done - no one should be left with unmet expectations. The seniors we all get to cheer for one last time on Saturday get an opportunity to reflect on their past, anticipate their future, but most of all, cherish that moment; letsí give them one they wonít forget, we owe them that much for sure - expected or not.
Re: 2010 Season and Senior Review, Beyond Expectations!
Re: 2010 Season and Senior Review, Beyond Expectations!
Lets stay on topic and avoid personal attacks.
Re: 2010 Season and Senior Review, Beyond Expectations!
Lets hope Saturday isn't the end either.
Originally Posted by MNCyGuy