As they should have, the Cyclones easily handled South Dakota State Thursday night. It could’ve been worse than the 44-17 final score, and frankly it should have, though the Jackrabbits gave away more scoring opportunities than the hosts.
Here’s what i came away thinking:
Austen Arnaud should remain the starting quarterback and get more snaps than Phillip Bates. He clearly has a better and more accurate arm, and looks far more at ease under center. Bates showed great athletic ability on some of his runs, but still needs work before he’s given the keys to the car more than a few series a game.
Alexander Robinson should become the Cyclones’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Stevie Hicks in 2004. He’s the total package.
Freshman wideout Sedrick Johnson will be a difference-maker…if Arnaud and Bates can get him the ball. The offensive line didn’t allow a sack, though the competition obvioulsy will get better.
Tight ends Derrick Catlett and Collin Franklin will get the ball a lot. J.J. Bass won’t.
The defense needs to tackle a whole lot better and cut down on silly after-the-play, 15-yard penalties. The tackling was atrocious at times as players went after the big hit instead of wrapping up.
That said, there’s a lot to be excited about.
Middle linebacker Jesse Smith was an animal out there, leveling SDSU quarterback Ryan Berry a few times on delayed blitzes. Linebacker Michael Bibbs had a fine game, as did the secondary filled with newcomers.
The pass rush was good, too.
The Jackrabbits’ longest play of the night came when receiver JaRon Harris picked up a fumble and scooted 76 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Special teams? Local boy Grant Mahoney was perfect on FGs and punter Mike Brandtner took the night off. ISU didn’t punt in a game for the first time since 1989.
Next up is Kent State, which upset ISU 23-14 in last year’s opener. That should be a little more competitive.
There were over 46,000 at Jack Trice Stadium last night. Expect more to show up next Saturday.