2010 Game 5: Iowa State vs Texas Tech Preview

Date: October 2, 2010

Time: 6:00 PM

Location: Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA

It’s nice to get back to .500 isn’t it? Despite Mark Farley’s best efforts to say otherwise, Iowa State put together a complete performance on defense, a manageable one on special teams, and a sleeper on offense. For the first time in Paul Rhoads’ career he had a team under .500 and responded accordingly with what you expect from a Big XII team over an FCS school.

Even with the win to bring Iowa State’s record to 2-2 there are still issues that must be worked out quickly before facing three ranked opponents in a row starting on October 9th when #13 Utah rolls in to town. Fortunately Texas Tech may present ample opportunities for this Cyclone team to continue to build on its confidence.

A History: Iowa State vs Texas Tech

Iowa State is an astounding 1-7 against Texas Tech all-time. We all know when that one win came. It was 2002 and the final score was 31-17 and the momentum started to swing with this play:

[youtube]i7gPOl_F8HQ[/youtube]

Past that play there is not much to write about this series. Texas Tech has absolutely dominated it since the Big XII formed by going 5-1 against the Cyclones.

Last 5 Games

2007: Texas Tech 42, Iowa State 17

2006: Texas Tech 42, Iowa State 26

2003: Texas Tech 52, Iowa State 21

2002: Iowa State 31, Texas Tech 17

1999: Texas Tech 28, Iowa State 16

Back it Up: Week 4 Review

Iowa State beat Northern Iowa 27-0 behind a pair of TAINTs (Touchdown after Interception) from Jeremy Reeves (94 yards) and A.J. Klein (25 yards). The story of the game was Jerome Tiller relieving Austen Arnaud after the first series. Tiller went 11-22 for 87 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He also added -1 yard rushing on 9 attempts due to 4 sacks.

Texas Tech was on a bye last week and last played against Texas on September 18th and was held to their lowest offensive output (144 yards) in over 10 years.

Iowa State Offense vs Texas Tech Defense

Something has to give this game and unfortunately this guy’s gut is leaning towards the men from the South rather than the beloved men from the North. Iowa State has not lit the world on fire on offense and failed to put together a consistent attack against Northern Iowa last week. The most disappointing thing about this was not Jerome Tiller’s throwing but the absolute domination the Northern Iowa defensive line had over Iowa State’s offensive line. Four games in to the season and the offensive line has already given up 9 sacks.

One the other side of the line the Texas Tech defense has given up over 300 yards in every game this season and even allowed New Mexico to rack up 433 total yards (only 97 of which were on the ground). The defense has yet to adapt to Tommy Tuberville’s 3-4 defense but a bye week could be what the doctor ordered.

Worth noting is Ben Bruns’ analysis earlier this week on CycloneFanatic. As a former two time All-American he is more qualified than most to discuss the ins and outs of this offensive line. One thing that concerned him is Kelechi Osemele’s inability to downblock on a rusher who is not originally lined up in his gap. Teams have figured this issue out and started lining up their end in the A gap between Alvarez and Lamaak, which forces Osemele to make a decision on who to block. Unfortunately Osemele has not looked good in these situations and a 3-4 defense that is bringing a standing linebacker on the rush may wreak some havoc throughout the game.

Most Intriguing Matchup: Austen Arnaud vs. Everyone (Again)

Advantage: Everyone

Reason: Arnaud showed us nothing last week by going 1-2 before leaving the game after apparently aggravating his injured left shoulder. This Texas Tech defense has been absolutely thrashed through the air in all three games and there is no reason for a 3rd year starting quarterback not to do the same. Receivers will get open and it is up to Arnaud to hit them, even if it is the same one (looking at you Franklin) 15 times.

Iowa State Defense vs Texas Tech Offense

First things first, this author is sticking by his prediction two weeks ago that moving A.J. Klein to middle linebacker would pay huge dividends for this defense. A.J. has been a tackling machine and his two TAINTs in consecutive weeks have been something we have not seen out of the linebacking corps in at least five years. Jake Knott has started to settle in to his role admirably and Matt Morton has been a capable fill in when called upon. This team is still too undersized to be effective against a power running game so games against Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska may get ugly but their pass coverage has taken some of the pressure off the secondary.

Texas Tech’s offense has not been the same under Tuberville as it was under Leach. They still throw the ball around the majority of the time but will try to get the ball in to Baron Batch’s hands more than in the past. Tuberville is on record as wanting to have a 70/30 balance of pass/run at worst with 60/40 being the more ideal ratio. Through three games the ratio is right on the 70/30 number. Coming off their worst performance of the season one has to wonder how Texas Tech will respond.

Although that 70/30 ratio may hold true as the game wears on Saturday look for Texas Tech to establish the run early and often. Batch is a load to handle at 5’10" and 210 pounds and with the splits that Texas Tech employs they will try to push the Iowa State front four around and get the linebackers to over commit. If they succeed early expect Tuberville to go back to the well as many times as it takes.

Most Intriguing Matchup: Iowa State’s linebackers vs Texas Tech’s offense… yes… all of it

Advantage: Iowa State

Reason: Obviously the choice of Iowa State having the advantage here is probably a shocker to most of you. However, the way our linebackers have dropped in to coverage the last few weeks you have to feel that they will adapt to Tech’s underneath routes. The key is still the running game but Tech will still need to have some effectiveness through the air on those later downs. If Iowa State can play themselves in to 3rd and long throughout the game look for the linebackers to keep the underneath routes from turning in to big plays. If Tech can push around the front four the linebackers will need to take good angles and tackle solid, something which they have improved on each of the last two weeks. No one claims this defense will shut down Tech but limiting big plays and creating a few turnovers will pay off late in the game.

Iowa State Special Teams vs Texas Tech Special Teams

Iowa State’s kick coverage unit continues to be the weak link for the special teams followed by Kirby Van Der Kamp’s inconsistent punting. Van Der Kamp can be excused as it was his first game punting in the swirling bowl that is Jack Trice Stadium but this kick coverage unit needs to gel fast so Grant Mahoney does not become a consistent last resort on returns.

Grant Mahoney has started 2010 consistent by going 6 of 7 on field goals with his only miss coming on a mistimed kick against Northern Illinois early in the first game. Texas Tech auditioned two kickers in their game against SMU before finally settling on Matt Williams to handle the kicking duties. He is 1 of 2 on the year for field goals and 14 of 14 on extra points.

Most Intriguing Matchup: Iowa State’s kick coverage vs Eric Stephens

Advantage: Stephens

Reason: Stephens is averaging 28.5 yards per kick return with a long of 93 yards. He has yet to take one to the house but has shown he can start Tech off with good field position whenever he touches the ball. If any wind is present on Saturday look for Mahoney to kick his ball low and try to put it through the end zone.

Final Analysis

I am struggling to not drink too much Kool-Aid based on last week’s game but it was incredibly satisfying to knock around a team on defense for the first time this year. Make no mistake, a better QB would have likely got UNI in to the end zone, but a shutout against anyone is such a confidence builder you have to expect these guys to come in to this game more prepared than they have been all year.

Texas Tech is coming off a bye week where Tuberville no doubt focused on getting the running game going and fixing the woes in Tech’s pass defense. We will find out very quickly if either worked. Tech will likely establish the run early to take advantage of our inexperienced and undersized front seven. Iowa State will do the same but has to turn the corner in the passing game as Tech will likely stack the box and a 3-4 defense will be new to many of the members of the offensive line. The first team to blink and make a mistake deep in their own territory likely loses this game.

Iowa State can win this game without Arnaud being a world beater. He just has to move the chains effectively and find his open receivers. If he hangs on to the ball and plays the team in to a rhythm then the score remains close throughout.

Final Score

Iowa State 27

Texas Tech 23

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