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Final Word: Iowa

The Final Word 200I’m pressed for time this morning, but it’s time to close the book on Iowa and hit you with the first “Final Word” for 2014.

In some respects, the game on Saturday was the best and worst of Ball State football. The best, in that the program’s rise in recent years has given a glimmer of hope that road upsets against “name” teams from power conferences are possible if not expected and that disappointment isn’t reserved solely for MAC losses. It was the worst in that there is still a small minority of the fanbase where the prior shift hasn’t and probably won’t ever occur. Reading the message boards, Facebook, and Twitter after the final gun was a significantly frustrating experience.

The cries of “same old Ball State” or something to that effect are still out there. It’s disappointing. It’s completely offbase. But the saving grace through all of it is that the volume of those cries gets less and less as each successful season happens. So with so much good and so much bad, the final word for Iowa is…

dichotomy (n)

  1. separation of different or contradictory things: a separation into two divisions that differ widely from or contradict each other

Some other thoughts on the loss…

  • Went back and rewatched the game and come away with the same feeling I had on Saturday night: The defense played well enough to win that game. Stellar effort across the board from the defensive unit.
  • If I had asked you before the game started if we could fast forward to the beginning of the 4th quarter with a 10-point lead, I would almost guarantee all of us would have taken it and not thought twice about it. Normally, with Lembo-led teams, 4th quarter leads are fairly safe, but as we saw, when the running game isn’t moving the chains or given the chance to, that expectation might be misplaced.
  • I’ve never seen a non-premier-program QB get so crushed by the fanbase after only two games at the helm. I can only hope Ozzie Mann’s friends don’t let him read social media or the web at all, because to say he’s a popular figure in the fanbase now is not accurate. I’m not sure if that’s a combination of lust after Jack Milas or something else, but he did not gain a lot of fans on Saturday.
  • Probably the only person who gained less was Joey Lynch and it’s directly related to the same issues. The offense did struggle, but I think evaluating the proficiency of either Lynch or Mann after playing one of the best defenses in the Big Ten is a foolish endeavor.
  • If just one of Ball State’s field goal drives had ended up in a touchdown we are looking at a completely different last few minutes and in my opinion a likely different outcome. One drive was killed by penalties, the other an inability to convert, and that was probably the most important exchanges of the game. They are disappointing, sure, but how many times in the Lembo era has that not been the case? I would say almost all of them. Every team reverts back to the median eventually.

So now, it’s on to Indiana State, and there’s nothing better to take the stench off a pissed off fanbase than an FCS team. CPL built up the Sycamores in this week’s Coach’s Newsletter, but even I could tell it was half-assed at best.

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