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2010 Game 3: Iowa State vs Kansas State Preview

Date: September 18, 2010

Time: 11:00 AM

Location: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO

Editor’s Note: Apologies for the delay in this preview (I am sure you flung yourselves through tables in anticipation) but these pesky "real jobs" sometimes get in the way.

Thank God that last weekend is past. Between the anticipation of the game itself and ensuing trash talking and the disaster of the actual game this guy needs some actual Big XII football to set things right. We all know about last week and last year against Kansas State so there is not much need to rehash those two heartbreakers (although for different reasons). Let’s get started.

A History: Iowa State vs Kansas State

Since meeting for the first time in 1917 (Bill Snyder had just turned 16 and was driving his first Model T) Iowa State has a record of 49-40-4 in the series. Yes, Iowa State actually leads this series by a nine game margin. All those beatdowns by Kansas State in the 90s (they won 10 straight from 1994 to 2003) actually brought the series back to some form of balance.

Last 5 Games

2009: Kansas State 24, Iowa State 23

2008: Kansas State 38, Iowa State 30

2007: Iowa State 31, Kansas State 20

2006: Kansas State 31, Iowa State 10

2005: Iowa State 45, Kansas State 17

Last year’s heartbreaker ended on a Grant Mahoney blocked extra point that was caused by a leaping Emmanuel Lamur pushing off his fellow defenders. The 2007 game in Ames was one of Gene Chizik’s 5 wins and the 2005 game was the game that sent Snyder in to retirement.

Back it Up: Week 2 Review

Iowa State lost to Iowa 35-7.

Kansas State beat Missouri State 48-24 behind a 21 carry, 137 yard, 2 touchdown performance by Daniel Thomas and a 280 yard, 3 touchdown game from Carson Coffman at quarterback. The game was well in hand going in to the 4th with Kansas State leading 41-10. Two late Missouri State touchdowns made the score somewhat more respectable.

Iowa State Offense vs Kansas State Defense

A lot of Iowa State fans are worried about how the Iowa State offense will fare against Kansas State after the dismal showing against Iowa. Those fears are well founded…

To a point.

What people have forgotten after the second game of the season is the Iowa defense is likely going to finish in the top 10 in most major statistics again this year. Possibly even the top 5. While they were young and inexperienced in the linebacking corps they have shown that their system works and most of their players can be plugged in to the system and it keeps on churning. What has happened this year is they finally have the right mix of players, talent, and experience to have a defense that is beyond dominating.

To say the Iowa State offense is in its darkest days due to a poor showing against a stacked Hawkeye defense (275 total yards, three turnovers, and 24:22 in time of possession) is not giving enough acknowledgment to the fact this offense is in its second year with some players having been through three different coaches.

That said, there are things that need fixing. Austen Arnaud’s timing must improve, especially on short routes, the receivers must step up and get separation, and the offensive line needs to gel and develop chemistry. Based on the results from 2009 I have no doubt that at least two of those things will improve quickly the rest of the season. Now let’s move to the game at hand.

Kansas State gave up 447 total yards to Missouri State last weekend and 313 to a UCLA team that was shutout by Stanford in their second game. This defense will give up yards and is likely to do so in chunks. The defense starts only five seniors and three of those are in the front seven. Look for the Iowa State offense to test their mettle early and often with the run game due to their lack of size on the weak side (243 pound DE and 197 pound WLB).

The Iowa State offense made adjustments last year during the inaugural Farmageddon and started moving the ball with large chunks of yardage. All of this was accomplished without the help of Alexander Robinson who was feeling the effects of his pulled groin. Despite that pull Robinson ripped of a run of 37 yards that would have taken him to the end zone had he been completely healthy.

With the small front seven of Kansas State look for Iowa State to set up the run early and often with a mix of passes to the outside to exploit mismatches. This is the perfect game for Iowa State to show again what happens when a team spreads the field effectively. If Kansas State stacks the box like Northern Illinois and Iowa did then expect Tom Herman and Austen Arnaud to learn from their mistakes and get the ball outside as often as possible.

Most Intriguing Matchup: Iowa State’s offensive line vs Kansas State’s front seven

Advantage: Iowa State

Reason: Iowa State managed to move the ball on the ground effectively last year and Kansas State is less experienced and smaller now than they were a year ago. The Iowa game exploited the weaknesses of an offense and both the players and coaches know what they need to do to improve. Look for a physical game in the trenches to set the tone early.

Iowa State Defense vs Kansas State Offense

Neither unit lights the world on fire in this matchup but Kansas State has Daniel Thomas. Thomas is currently averaging 185.5 yards per game which is good enough to rank him third in the country. He is averaging an eye-popping 7.6 yards per carry with 4 touchdowns total. Carson Coffman looked good against lesser competition in Missouri State but struggled at times against UCLA (11/16 for only 66 yards). Kansas State is going to run, run, run Daniel Thomas.

The key for Iowa State will be filling the right lanes against Thomas, which is something they did not do against Iowa. Thomas is a dangerous back who will run between the tackles but has enough speed to bounce outside if Iowa State loses contain. The concerns over starting either Matt Morton (6’0", 207) or Jacques Washington (6’0", 200) at strong side linebacker can be mitigated if the defensive line again keeps the offensive line from reaching the second level. They did a wonderful job of this against Northern Illinois and started well against Iowa. Eventually the line wore down with the domination of the clock that the Hawkeyes exhibited.

If the defensive line does its part then the linebackers must do there’s and pursue with correct angles and give themselves more opportunities to make solid tackles. Mark this down:

Moving A.J. Klein to middle linebacker will be the best thing to happen to the Iowa State defense this season.

A.J. is a very good linebacker for his age and experience. He has a tendency to over pursue and hit the wrong gap though. Moving him to middle linebacker in this system will allow him to move laterally and be freer in stopping the run. As long as he keeps himself from being sucked in to the wrong gap expect him to remain a tackling machine.

Iowa State is going to give up a lot of yards this game but like last week the key will be to minimize the big plays. Iowa State gave up five plays over 20 yards to Iowa and five rushing plays over 10 yards. If Iowa State can keep Kansas State from eating up chunks of yards to get to the red zone they will stand a fighting chance of keeping the score low once they are forced inside the 20. Look for Iowa State to stack the box early and test Carson Coffman. However, if the linebackers do not a better job in pursuit then Coffman’s passing will not be an issue as Thomas will do nothing but run, run, run.

Most Intriguing Matchup: Iowa State’s linebackers vs Anyone

Advantage: Kansas State

Reason: Kansas State’s run game has been firing on all cylinders since Daniel Thomas joined the team in 2009. If Iowa State’s linebackers cannot take the correct angles and keep attempting to make arm tackles then the train will keep on rolling. The defense has to minimize big plays to win but will give up yards no matter what. Holding Kansas State to field goals in the red zone may be the difference in the game.

Iowa State Special Teams vs Kansas State Special Teams

The unit that was involved in the play that cost us the game last year has not been seen very much this season. Grant Mahoney has nailed all of his extra point opportunities (four) and connected on two of three field goal opportunities. The punting situation seems to be solved with Kirby Van Der Kamp making his first start at Iowa and averaging 40.4 yards on seven punts. He will need to improve his consistency going forward in order to be a weapon. The Iowa State kick return team burst on to the scene last week with Shontrelle Johnson returning kickoffs for 37 and 62 yards. Curiously he is still listed 4th on the depth chart behind Leonard Johnson, Josh Lenz, and Darius Reynolds. Do not be surprised to see him lining up back there on the first kickoff Iowa State receives on Saturday.

Kansas State’s special teams have always been a strength under Bill Snyder and the only hitch they have run in to this year is the competition between Josh Cherry and Anthony Cantele at kicker. Cherry has connected on all four of his extra point attempts after being given the chance over Cantele when he missed a field goal. Kansas State also averages a decent 32.2 yards per kick return that is likely to test an Iowa State kick coverage team that played well last week against Iowa.

Most Intriguing Matchup: Iowa State’s field goal unit vs Kansas State’s field goal defense

Advantage: Kansas State

Reason: With the block of last year’s potential game tying extra point still in our minds the advantage has to be given to Bill Snyder’s squad. The rest of the matchups appear to be a push but both teams are just one big special teams play away from likely winning this game.

Final Analysis

Iowa State needs to get its groove back. The defense played admirably last week until they became too tired due to the offense’s lack of ability to sustain drives. If the offense can eat up the clock and score points then the defense is going to have a more than fair chance to stop Kansas State. The defense will give up yards so the key will be containing the big plays and not breaking in the red zone. The defense failed at both of these against Iowa and it all starts with tackling. If Rhoads’ mantra finally sinks in with these linebackers then Iowa State has a fighting chance.

On the flip side, Iowa State has to get momentum going for the offense. They will try to establish the run against a smaller Kansas State front seven but they need to pass the ball to get Austen Arnaud and the offense in a rhythm. After the Iowa loss last year Iowa State came out slinging the ball to Marquis Hamilton on their first drive against Kent State. Hopefully a similar situation is implemented by the coaches this week that sees the offense get the ball to receivers in space and allow them to make plays. If this offense starts slowing again look for the game to get out of hand early.

Final Score

Iowa State 30

Kansas State 27