We had the opportunity to talk with Seth from Viva the Matadors about tomorrow's match up between Iowa State and Texas Tech. Read below for our questions and Seth's answers and head over to Viva the Matadors to catch our responses to Seth's questions. Including another debate about the Big XII's Dreamiest Coach.
WRNL: Kliff Kingsbury obviously gets the headlines as an offensive guy but it's hard to ignore the defensive talent that was left in Tommy Tuberville's wake. What is it about this defense that has made them difficult to run on and even harder to score against?
VTM: Some of it is the result of Tuberville's recruiting, but there are still a couple of important players that were recruited by Leach, namely Terrance Bullitt and Kerry Hyder, but to your initial point, I do think that Tuberville knows defensive talent, the problem is with coaching them.
As to the defense, I think it helps a ton that there are so many seniors starting and seeing significant minutes. There's also a really healthy rotation of players. When Tuberville left, he was playing a lot of young players, so they struggled. It didn't help that two of the three defensive coordinators were pretty bad (the last one was a good guy that I think did a good job). Now those players are all growned up and they look a lot more in tune than they did previously.
As to specifics, I think the biggest key has been guys that are versatile and can play in space. Tre Porter, Bullitt, Jackson Richards, Kerry Hyder, and Pete Robertson are all guys that can play and have played multiple positions, so they have a pretty good idea as to being able to play multiple spots on the defense and give some different looks defensively.
WRNL: Tech has a talented back in Kenny Williams but he's only touching the ball about 10 times a game. We know that rushing isn't a priority in the Air Raid but why the sudden drop off in the Williams' usage? What can we expect to see Saturday from the Tech rushing attack?
VTM: The offensive line has really been the weakest link in the offense. A lot of new starters and young players were playing at the start of the season and I think it's just taken some time for the line to get into a groove. They did that against Kansas. As to Williams and some of the other runners, I think it's just a matter of spreading the ball around as much as possible and there are other talented runners. I'm not sure that Kingsbury really has an offensive agenda other than to score, no matter how that happens. Obviously, he thinks that passing the ball is more conducive to scoring, but I don't think he's opposed to running the ball if that's what the defense calls for. I also detailed on Thursday how Kingsbury employs a RB/IR hybrid that can line up in the backfield or in the slot and give Texas Tech a 20-personnel look or a 10-personnel look that can be tough for a defense to adjust.
WRNL: Amaro, Ward, and Grant have been getting everyone's attention but who on the offense could really step up and surprise people on Saturday? To put it more aptly, which Texas Tech player is likely to have a career game against the Iowa State defense?
VTM: Any time I am asked this question, I'll pretty much always say Amaro because he's such a match-up problem. It's just hard to find a guy that can cover a slot receiver that is 6-5/260 as he can out-run most bigger linebackers and can just post up smaller defensive backs. He really is a guy that can change a game and if you do bracket him (which one of the WRNL readers mentioned on Thursday) that leaves someone else more than likely open. I think zoning him is the best thing to do, but if he finds a seam, then that's really tough.
WRNL: What's your take on the offense as a whole this season? There have been some slow starts in games but seemingly strong finishes in all of them. Is this a gameplan and adjustment issue, is it the mark of a young team, or is it all coincidental?
VTM: Part of it is not having an experienced quarterback. Playing two true freshmen thus far has taken it's toll on the offense. I think it can be better. The freshmen QB's have played well, and for a guy that walked-on, Mayfield's been a real blessing. He's consistent and strong and pretty reliable. Webb is a little more reckless, which means he can throw a bad pick or a spectacular touchdown. I can be real hit or miss. I think they've seen enough action to where they get an idea for the speed of the game, plus an offensive line that's probably now used to playing together and the offense is going to be much better. So yes, it was coincidental in a lot of respects (freshmen QB's, young offensive line, new head coach, etc.) but with time, those things get corrected a bit (or at least that's the hope).
WRNL: Finally, who gets the start at quarterback on Saturday, and what should Iowa State watch out for with the starter?
VTM: I think it's going to be Webb, but I'm not sure. If I had go guess, I'd go with Webb and if he struggles, then Michael Brewer will get an opportunity. Kingsbury hasn't had a short leash so Webb will get plenty of opportunity. Brewer should be completely healthy after a back injury, or at least as healthy as he is going to be. Brewer is really solid as a signal caller. Not the strongest arm, but a guy that makes really sound decisions and can move his feet. I'll go with Webb, with Brewer getting an opportunity.