Missed tackles yield missed opportunities for Cyclones


Longhorn running back Johnathan Gray breaks an attempted tackle by ISU defensive back Deon Broomfield on Saturday, Nov. 10, at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. The Cyclones fell to the Longhorns 33-7.

Jake Calhoun

AUSTIN, Texas — Tackling: Coaches preach it; players practice it; games can be decided by it.

Missed tackles had no place in the ISU football team’s defensive game plan heading into its matchup against No. 19 Texas. However, the team watched them play a critical role in allowing the Longhorns to jump out to a 20-0 lead in the eventual 33-7 loss.

“They kind of plagued the defense the whole day,” said junior linebacker Jeremiah George. “We didn’t make the most of every opportunity.”

Even though missed tackles are not an official stat in college football, the 609 total offensive yards by the Longhorns (8-2, 5-2 Big 12) could reflect how they affected the Cyclones (5-5, 2-5) defensively.

The defense overall had a sour day, having allowed UT quarterback David Ash to go 25-of-31 for 364 yards and two touchdowns. Ash completed his first 11 passes to start the game before missing wide-open Marquise Goodwin in the second quarter.

“He was reading the defense well; he was putting the ball right on the money,” said ISU safety Durrell Givens of Ash. “It’s always good when you’re trying to complete your passes.”

Ash’s proficiency was not just a product of his reads at the line of scrimmage, but defensive tackle Jake McDonough said it also had to do with the lack of pressure the ISU defensive line was able to apply.

Along with missed tackles, ISU coach Paul Rhoads said his team gave up too many creases and open holes for the UT rushing attack to flourish.

“A lot of nine-plus runs were just a result of running; they weren’t a result of missed tackles,” Rhoads said.

Three different running backs — Joe Bergeron, Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown — notched at least 10 carries each and combined for 191 of Texas’ 222 rushing yards.

Rhoads went on to say one of the more disappointing aspects of his defense’s performance came from more technical facets.

“Where contact had already occurred, guys [were] coming from the side and working to try to strip the ball out as opposed to getting in front of the ball carrier and taking him towards the goal line,” Rhoads said.

Those “strip-and-rip” techniques used by the ISU defenders went for naught as they were unable to cause a turnover for the second time this season.

“It’s always better to get turnovers,” Givens said. “It always helped the offense and the defense; so when we don’t get them, it’s almost as if we lose an aspect of the game.”

Iowa State has now lost four of its last five games after starting the season 4-1 for the first time since 2002.

The Cyclones have two more chances — at Kansas (Nov. 17) and vs. West Virginia (Nov. 23) — to notch one more win to become bowl-eligible for the third time in four seasons.

“I think it helps us more than it hurts us,” George said of losses like this. “It makes you that much hungrier to go back to work.”