2014 Game II: Iowa State (0-1, 0-0) vs Kansas State (1-0, 0-0)
Time: 11:00 AM CDT
Location: Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA
Line: KSU -12.5
Television: Fox Sports 1
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network/Cyclones.TV stream
Kansas State SBN Site: Bring on the Cats
When We Last Left Off...
Iowa State was becoming the latest victim of NDSU and squandered a 14-0 lead by surrendering 34 unanswered points in a 34-14 eviscerating.
Tyler Lockett caught a pass to open up the scoring, barely saw the field after that, and the Wildcats still rolled in a 55-16 victory over Stephen F. Austin.
Miraculously Iowa State still leads this series with an all-time mark of 49-44-4, with a 28-17-3 mark in Ames. The Cyclones haven't beat the Wildcats with anyone that's currently on the coaching staff or roster as the last victory came in Gene Chizik's inaugural campaign back in 2007.
Iowa State Offense
Iowa State didn't bring a heck of a lot to the table last week when it came to showing off Mark Mangino's new offense. By now we all know the rundown of how things went: fast start, 14 straight points, then a consistent mix of drive stalls, poor execution, and even worse timing.
Jon Morse from Bring on the Cats said last week that you absolutely cannot give North Dakota State any more chances than they deserve and the only two turnovers of the game happened at quite possibly the most inopportune times and spelled doom for the Cyclones.
Interception #1: 1:50 remaining in the first half, Cyclones driving, Sam Richardson fails to look off a linebacker on a fake bubble screen and gets his ball tipped and intercepted when trying to complete the slant. A return in to Iowa State territory and a quick strike from NDSU set the Bison up for a field goal, a halftime lead, and all the confidence they needed to start the second half strong.
Lost in that interception is that the offense had been driving the ball over the prior three minutes and had reached North Dakota State territory. By just about any measure they were playing the possession like it was the final one of the half, and would have at least come away with a field goal attempt and potentially the lead themselves.
Interception #2: After the defenses traded stops, and NDSU kicked a field goal, the Cyclones came out and picked up 12 yards on the ground on two plays. The next play was the ill fated throw from Richardson to Allen Lazard on the sidelines that tipped perfectly into the hands of NDSU's defender. NDSU then bled two and a half minutes off the clock to go 40 yards, score a touchdown, and go up by 13. All in all, the Cyclones ran a total of 11 offensive plays in the 3rd quarter.
The above is to illustrate two points: One, an NDSU offense that was going to bleed you dry didn't need more chances to do so, and two, by the time the Iowa State offense got a "fighting" chance to run the offense they were down by two scores with one quarter to play. That's not the situation you want to be in if you're a team looking to establish an identity.
Simply put, this offense has to take better care of the ball if they want to find the balance that was talked about so much in the preseason.
Kansas State Defense
It's hard to assess the Kansas State defense after they opened with Stephen F. Austin. The Lumberjacks aren't known as an FCS powerhouse by any means, and they struggled to consistently move the ball against a small, young, but fast Kansas State defense.
All Big XII defensive end Ryan Mueller returns to bolster a defensive line that is otherwise as small as Iowa State's. The linebackers behind them are all cut in the hybrid type mold that Snyder prefers in the new Big XII, but the loss of safety Ty Zimmerman could very well be the difference maker on this defense.
Kansas State struggled last year without Zimmerman in the line up, but has put a lot of confidence in corners Morgan Burns and Danzel McDaniel to play man-to-man on their receivers and win the battle. It worked against Stephen F. Austin, but we'll see if that method plays out in Ames this weekend.
Yards per Attempt for Stephen F. Austin vs Kansas State: 5.8
Yards Per Attempt for Iowa State vs NDSU: 4.9
Iowa State needs to be above both of those numbers this weekend to have a chance.
The Match Up
Believe it or not, Kansas State provides a better litmus test for this offense than NDSU did. NDSU returned the bulk of their defense, and it showed with how they moved as a unit, rotated coverages with ease, and were confident enough to mix up their pre-snap looks to confuse a new offense.
Kansas State is talented, and fast, but they're not the unit they will be a month from now. There's still concern about depth up front, and the secondary making mistakes when plays break down. With a mobile quarterback like Richardson running the show there will likely be more scramble opportunities like last weekend.
The Wildcats probably pull the reins back a little bit on their defense and start with a bend, don't break philosophy due to the strength of the Cyclones' receiving corps. However, if the Cyclones fail to move the ball early I expect the Wildcats to ramp up the aggressiveness similar to how NDSU did last week to help drive the nail into the coffin.
It's going to be interesting to see how Mangino adapts between the first and second week of the season, and I fully expect a more focused game from the offense. The offense did a great job getting back on schedule last week when first down was less than successful. That usually meant a pass, and by the second half NDSU had adjusted and was forcing check downs or scrambles from Richardson. Mangino has to commit early to the run game and take some chances on second and six by running the ball again. Commit to the run early and watch the rest of the offense open up.
Kansas State Offense
Jake Waters. End all, be all of another dynamic Kansas State attack. He's not as patient of a runner as Collin Klein, but he's big and fast enough it seldom matters. Split out will be do everything receiver Tyler Lockett and get used to that name, because you'll be hearing a lot of it Saturday.
I would like to say that the Wildcats are struggling to find a running game without the quarterback, but Waters' ability to get to open space has opened things up for running backs DeMarcus Robinson and Charles Jones. Those two combined for 19 carries, 104 yards, and two touchdowns last weekend and will be featured extensively against a Cyclone defense that has to commit too many resources to stop the run.
Iowa State Defense
On one hand the defense played well in spots. Robby Garcia looked like a good pass rusher, and could be that quick presence in the middle on passing downs... if the defense ever creates them. Jared Brackens' speed and nose for the ball made a difference in the 3rd quarter, but it wasn't enough as the defense quit bending and started breaking.
This defense is fundamentally bad. Bad gap fits, bad angles, bad all around. Some of it is youth with a number of first time starters up the middle, but some of it is just not understanding major college football at a fundamental level. A lot of these guys were stars in high school, and often the fastest on the team. Even the guys who had redshirted in 2013 were taking bad angles last week and clearly hadn't learned that speed isn't the overwhelming tool if you're not the fastest guy on the field.
Is it correctable? Definitely. Is it going to happen this week? Absolutely not.
Yards Per Carry for Kansas State vs Stephen F Austin: 4.7
Yards Per Carry for NDSU vs Iowa State: 6.9
Given the nature of Kansas State's offense, and the use of the quarterback in the run game, it's frightening to think about how Iowa State matches up in this battle.
The Match Up
I really don't know how you try to stop this Kansas State offense if you're Iowa State's defense. You definitely have to keep from allowing the big play, but I can't even begin to think about how to do it when you have to consider the run game and keep Lockett from running all over the field like a man possessed.
In the end football boils down to stopping the run, and you'll see the Cyclones attempt to do this. I'm not sure how, but they'll try. They often had to commit seven or eight guys solely to the run last week, and if they do it again this week then Lockett will have one of his 200 yard receiving games and earn Big XII Player of the Week honors.
Who am I kidding though, we know it's going to happen either way.
Colin Downing impressed last week and did his best Kirby Van Der Kamp impression while booming punts all over Jack Trice. Lockett is going to be Kansas State's primary return man and I have some very big concerns with Downing either out kicking his coverage due to his inexperience or one of the Cole Netten short kickoffs gets returned for a score.
The special teams units as a whole were not impressive last week, and it's a safe bet for me that Kansas State either scores a special teams touchdown or completely flips momentum/field position with a great return.
WRNL Beer Pick of the Week
Another morning tailgate means another beer with some meat on its bones to get you started right in the morning. This week we'll be drinking Bent River Brewing's Uncommon Stout. Another oatmeal stout infused with coffee but perfect to start off an unseasonably cool September game.
This game is too early in the season to talk about two teams headed in opposite directions, but it most certainly is about two programs headed in opposite directions. Bill Snyder and company found a way to rebound after last season's defeat to North Dakota State, and had it not been for a late death march by the Bison, may have actually won.
Paul Rhoads is not Bill Snyder and I think it's safe to say that with five years under his belt. That's not to say that the team can't rebound and have a season similar to what we all expected just one week ago. But the coaching and talent is at a level below Kansas State's and that doesn't bode well for the future. Plus it most certainly does not bode well for this weekend.
Kansas State comes in with a buzz saw of an offense that can do it all, and Iowa State comes in with a soft 2x4 of a defense that can do virtually nothing right without selling out on a play. Iowa State's offense will certainly rebound this weekend. Mangino is too good of a coach, the players have a lot of experience, and the Kansas State defense has more weak spots than NDSU's.
It just won't be enough.
Kansas State 42
Iowa State 21
PS - G7. WRNL flag.
PPS - Predictions. Comments.