Takeaways: Hutchinson and linebackers shine as Iowa State finds its groove

Iowa State junior wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson evades defenders after a catch in a game against Texas Tech on Oct. 10.

Zane Douglas

As chaos defined the Cotton Bowl and the Big 12 was turned upside down once again Saturday, the Cyclones and Red Raiders faced off in Ames in a relatively uneventful matchup.

Iowa State dominated Texas Tech in all facets of the game, as junior quarterback Brock Purdy came alive and sophomore running back Breece Hall continued to produce. Outside of those two big names, it was some new faces that broke through with key performances to help the Cyclones win.

Hutchinson becomes a threat

Against Oklahoma, junior wide receiver and junior college transfer Xavier Hutchinson only reeled in three catches. One of those was a slant route over the middle that Hutchinson caught and proceeded to take 65 yards to the house following a broken tackle.

The ball got rolling there, but Hutchinson really became a go-to target Saturday.

The junior was targeted 10 times and had nine receptions for 77 yards against Texas Tech. The nine catches set a career high for the newly added Cyclone. Hutchinson didn’t find the end zone Saturday, but he led the Cyclones in catches, targets and yards.

Hutchinson found most of his success in the open field, breaking tackles and getting yards after the catch.

“What I love about Xavier is not only does he have great talent, but I think he has elite work ethic,” Head Coach Matt Campbell said. “To me, those are the players I really like to coach.”

Linebackers start the game strong

The game started off rough for Iowa State as it drove down on its first offensive drive, settled for what looked like a chip shot field goal that was blocked and returned 90 yards for a Red Raider touchdown.

The offense came alive right after, but the defense had to as well and Iowa State’s linebacking core had an excellent first half.

“I saw a lot of guys get hands on balls today, which was really good,” Campbell said. “I thought we did a really good job breaking on the ball, I thought Jake Hummel was really impressive today.”

Texas Tech couldn’t get anything going on offense and relied on crossing routes and slants over the middle to get the passing game going. As evidenced by the box score, that wasn’t working.

Linebackers patrolling the middle of the field got their hands in passing lanes and caused all kinds of commotion. One third down pass from Red Raider quarterback Alan Bowman was almost intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Hummel.

Junior linebacker O’Rien Vance had some important plays in there as well, including a pass breakup himself. 

“All throughout practice and through our scheme and our game plan we put in for this week our main goal was to get off the field as fast as possible,” Vance said.

The Iowa State defensive line put pressure on the quarterbacks Texas Tech threw out there, but it was still a relatively quiet day for the standout group. The coverage over the middle from the linebackers is what shined for Iowa State.

Cyclones find groove after demoralizing opening week

Week one and week two were rough weeks for Iowa State.

The Cyclones were beaten up by Louisiana on their home turf and then told to sit on it for two weeks as Head Coach Matt Campbell’s team was given a bye in week two.

It was the team’s only nonconference game, but it seemed like a far more important one after it resulted in a loss.

That’s out the window now as the 3-1 Cyclones just finished their third straight conference win and have moved into a tie with Kansas State as the only two 3-0 teams in Big 12 Conference play.

Texas Tech and TCU aren’t the best teams in the conference, but the Red Raiders made it close with Texas and Kansas State, while TCU upset Texas and were within a score of Iowa State and Kansas State.

Campbell’s team will get another bye and while the last one flipped the Cyclones’ season around, this one will come while the Cyclones are red hot.

“We’re gonna take this time and get physically right and mentally really strain ourselves to get ourselves to the next level,” tight end Chase Allen said.

The next game Iowa State will play is against No. 10 Oklahoma State, who is sitting at 2-0 in the conference. The Cyclones will have to pick up where it left off to escape with a victory in that game.

For now, Campbell and co. are sitting pretty at the top of the Big 12.