Three Big Takeaways: Baylor takes advantage of mistakes, topples Iowa State


Daniel Jacobi II

Quarterback Hunter Dekkers is tackled as he attempts to throw the ball away against Baylor on Sept. 24

AMES — With an undefeated start to the season on the line, Iowa State opened the Big 12 slate of games with No. 17 Baylor.

The rivalry between Iowa State and Baylor has been competitive, with recent games being decided by one score. Although Iowa State fought hard to the end, Baylor came out on top.

The theme of the day was momentum, and Baylor had momentum of the game the whole day. Every time Iowa State tried gaining momentum, Baylor turned the tide in its favor.

This loss gives Iowa State a lot to think about going forward. There is plenty of football ahead and many chances to win games as the Big 12 season progresses.

Beating themselves

Big 12 play brings newer and tougher challenges than non-conference games. The Cyclones were hot in the first three games of the season, but Baylor would prove to be the first real test for the young Iowa State team.

The inexperience on the offense showed at times against Iowa, but the defense was able to make up for the mistakes by locking down opposing teams. However, Baylor took advantage of the small cracks in Iowa State’s game.

“I didn’t really think they took momentum, I think we were constantly giving them momentum,” Iowa State linebacker Colby Reeder said. “We really shot ourselves in the foot too many times.”

From the jump, Iowa State looked off its game. The Baylor offense, led by quarterback Blake Shapen, was able to pick apart the Iowa State defense all day long.

If Iowa State didn’t lock down every player on the field, Shapen would find a wide open receiver to take large chunks of yardage out of the drive. The explosive Baylor run game was also able to punch the ball down the field.

Baylor did a great job exposing the weaknesses of the Iowa State defense, but one of the largest factors in the scoring performance of the Bears was the untimely penalties on the Cyclones.

“Man, it certainly had a huge effect on the flow of the game,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said. “We were never able to control the momentum of the football game.”

The first penalty came early in the first drive of the game. Beau Freyler went in for a tackle, but lowered his head just too much and drew a targeting penalty.

The call disqualified Freyler from the game and gave Baylor a first down. Reeder picked up a penalty of his own in the same drive, as he was called for unnecessary roughness.

Throughout the game, nearly every veteran Iowa State defender was flagged for a penalty. The Cyclones ended the day with eight penalties for 78 yards, with most of the flags resulting in first downs for Baylor.

The first downs given by the Iowa State defense allowed Baylor to continue gaining momentum. Whenever the Cyclones stopped the Bears, they would give them a get out of jail free card.

“That’s gonna happen; it’s football. The refs aren’t perfect, we’re not perfect,” Reeder said. “We’ve just got to be better. We’ve got to be able to stop the momentum if we’re just handing them free yards.”

The nail in the coffin for Iowa State came early in the fourth quarter. With Baylor driving down the field, a trick play got the best of the Iowa State defense.

Will McDonald attempts to defend Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen on Sept. 24

The Bears pulled off a double flea-flicker to get the ball back into Shapen’s hands. The play caused enough confusion to allow Baylor wide receiver Gavin Holmes to get wide open in the end zone, where he waited as Shapen floated the ball into his waiting arms.

That score put Baylor up 31-14 and put the game just out of reach for the Cyclones. Despite their best efforts, they couldn’t make up the hole they dug.

Dekkers’ ball security

A major issue for Hunter Dekkers entering Big 12 play was going to be protecting the football.

The Cyclones were able to win their first three games, but that wasn’t without their hiccups. Dekkers turned the ball over in each of those three games, resulting in three interceptions and a fumble.

The turnovers reared their ugly head again in a tough Iowa State loss. Dekkers was having trouble connecting with his targets all day, consistently overthrowing and misplacing the football.

With Dekkers being off, the Baylor defense jumped on any opportunity they could get.

Although Dekkers was connecting with less receivers than usual, he was keeping the ball out of the Baylor defenders’ hands. That all changed as the second half started.

“You start from there and that turnover. Now, all of a sudden you’re into a total rat race in trying to get yourself back into the football game,” Campbell said.

Dekkers was looking for Hutchinson to pick up a first down. As Hutchinson reached out to snatch the ball out of the air, a Baylor defender dove in to knock the ball away. Baylor’s Devin Neal was in the right place at the right time as the ball fell into his lap.

A few drives later, Dekkers made his second mistake of the day. He felt the pressure of the Baylor edge rushers closing in and tried to force the ball to DeShawn Hanika. The ball was just out of reach for Hanika, but not for Baylor’s Christian Morgan, who came up with the ball.

In a game that was decided by one score, ball security was expected to be a factor. Dekkers is still learning, and that inexperience was on display against a stout Baylor team.

Spreading the love

Through the first three games of the year, it seemed as though Iowa State wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson couldn’t have a bad game. He tied his 2021 receiving touchdown total, finding the end zone five times through three games.

Hutchinson was Dekkers’ safety net, as he was targeted at least 10 times a game. He was just as consistent against Baylor, finishing the game with 13 targets and eight receptions.

Although Hutchinson put up over 80 yards, other receivers got their time in the limelight.

Dimitri Stanley had a career day, catching four of his six targets for 55 yards. Stanley also snagged his first touchdown of his Cyclone career.

With Stanley having his first breakout game in a Cyclones uniform, Campbell had nothing but good things to say about him.

“I think he’s a guy that continues to really show up when you go to practice,” Matt Campbell said. “He would have been a name coming out of fall camp that you were really excited about.”

Jaylin Noel also had a monster game, putting up 120 receiving yards thanks to a late catch and run on the sideline which went for over 50 yards. Noel finished with seven catches, just one behind Hutchinson.

Running back Jirehl Brock also got some looks in the passing game, catching three passes, with one catch going for a touchdown.

“You talk about positives. Man, that receiver room, there’s some guys that are really starting to come,” Campbell said. “I thought Jaylin had another really good day. We think the world of him. Sean [Shaw] last week and Dimitri this week.”

If Iowa State wants to compete with the tough competition in the Big 12, Dekkers needs to find receivers when Hutchinson isn’t open. The shining light in the loss to Baylor is that Dekkers is able to find other offensive weapons, instead of funneling every play Hutchinson’s way.

“That was probably our toughest game yet, and we’ve got to just learn from it,” Reeder said.