2015 Game VI: Iowa State (2-3, 1-1) vs. Texas Tech University (6-0, 3-0)
Date: October 17, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM CST
Location: Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA
Line: TCU -20.5, O/U 73.5
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
In Paul Rhoads' tenure, he has been very stubborn when it comes to adjustments. ISU doesn't have the kind of horses to run exotic blitz attacks or 5-wide sets, but I would entertain some changes on both sides of the ball.
The Cyclone defense has continued to play on their heels, waiting for the opponent to come to them, and nine times out of ten, you lose that battle. Wally Burnham needs to run a good blend of zone and man coverage with blitz packages mixed in. If ISU wants to force turnovers, they are going to have to be the aggressor.
As far as the offense goes, this team has some huge assets that are not being utilized. Believe me, if Allen Lazard were playing in Notre Dame navy and gold, Brian Kelly would find a way to get him the ball any way possible. This team has a bevy of All-Big 12 caliber playmakers that don't get enough touches. We have seen their potential, but so far that's all we've seen. And for Christ's sake, when a running back is averaging 10 yards per carry, give him the damn rock.
When we last left off....
The Cyclones lost to Texas Tech 66-31. The only good player to come out of last week's debacle in Lubbock was running back Mike Warren. The redshirt freshman ran for a career-high 245 yards on the ground, mostly in garbage time, but displayed a bright light for the future of this offense.
Quarterback Sam Richardson had a bad
hair passing day, displaying less-than-impressive mechanics and little to no touch on the ball. Lazard put on a high hurdle exhibition for all to see, as he got nut-tapped, regained his balance, and then dragged four players to the 1-yard line. He is going to be fun to watch for two more years (as long as we get the ball in his hands, that is).
Defense... That was bad.
TCU dropped to No. 3 in the nation after being ranked No. 2 all season. The team that jumped them? None other than ISU's next opponent - Baylor.
Deep breaths. Deep breaths everyone.
TCU is already bowl eligible through six games, and is led by Heisman hopeful quarterback, Trevone Boykin. Little do fans remember, but ISU beat TCU in Boykin's first game at QB back in 2012 by a score of 37-23 in Fort Worth. It seems like yesterday that David Irving was picking off that pass and lumbering all the way to paydirt. Too bad he had a fetish for stop signs...
The Horned Frogs are in the top 10 in seven offensive categories, and have quite possibly the best QB-WR combo in the nation, with Boykin throwing laser beam TDs to All-American-to-be wide receiver Josh Doctson.
TCU leads the all-time series 5-1. If you want to look up the score from last year, there's this thing called Google.
Iowa State Offense
I've been behind Sam Richardson since day one. What's sad to see, and I have noticed this with nearly all ISU signal callers that come and go, is that he has never progressed. Richardson still makes freshman mistakes even though he is a fifth-year senior and captain.
He clearly has a grasp on the offense, but doesn't trust himself to make the throws necessary to be an above-average QB in the Big 12. Granted, he has never had much to work with, but this year was supposed to be different. I don't blame Sam for this - I blame coaching. Period.
I see more of Joel Lanning in this one, folks. But we can't hand the reigns to him yet. Sam needs to gain his confidence back for the latter part of the season.
Mike Warren leads all freshmen in rushing yards, in the NATION. He has the ability to turn on the burners and displays a terrific sense of vision. His 8.1 yards per carry is good for sixth in the country, and he has averaged 182 yards on the ground in the last three contests.
Look for ISU to get the ball to Warren early and often, so that the Clones can run the clock down and keep TCU's vaunted passing attack off the field.
First Key to Victory - Run the Clock with the Running Game
This was last week's key to victory. It's self-explanatory - the more time ISU's offense is on the field, the less time there is for TCU to light up the scoreboard.
The Horned Frogs have lost a LOT of depth to injuries this season. So far, SEVEN defensive starters have been supplanted to the sidelines either with injuries, leaving the team, or beating up students and stealing Keystone Light at a house party. That last one is true, by the way.
TCU runs the Gary Patterson patented 4-2-5 defense, which I dominated in NCAA '05 for many years as a young college student. It carries three safeties and defensive ends outside the tackles, and is divided into three "attack" groups. The key is to have great interior linemen and safeties that can cover the pass. You football geeks can read more here.
The Horned Frogs are led by two converted safeties at linebacker in Montrel Wilson and Travin Howard. They also have a four-year starter in defensive tackle Davion Pierson. This unit is young, but full of Texas-bred talent.
The Verdict - TCU
Patterson is a defensive wizard. TCU is 15th nationally in forcing 3-and-outs. They led the country last year in that stat. Sounds like a long day for Sam and company.
Iowa State Defense
Welp, Wally tried defending his defense after last week's lack of performance against TTU.
We came to find out that the 3-4 experiment isn't a quick fix against the pass-happy offenses of the Big 12. Against Tech, the secondary did a fantastic job of covering the 8-to-12 yard area, playing a cover-7 zone in that part of the field, but failing to stop anything in front or behind them. The inability to wrap up allowed explosive plays and easy 7- to 8-yard hitch routes to turn into 10- and 15-yard gains.
The defensive line got no pressure, and probably won't in this game either. These offenses get rid of the ball so quickly, and quarterbacks like Boykin are going to run around the defensive linemen all day. The only way to disrupt a spread attack is pressure the QB up the middle and make the tackle at the point of attack.
The secondary needs to step up by playing fundamental defense and wrapping up. TCU throws the deep ball to Doctson, so look for him to be double teamed with a safety over the top.
Second Key to Victory - Wrap Up
It comes back to what you were taught in junior high. TCU uses every part of the field, therefore a lot of defenders are spread out and on an island. Without your teammates there to gang tackle, the first guy has to wrap up and make the solo stop.
The Horned Frogs are really good at this offense thing. Boykin is 2nd in the nation in total offense, with 411 yards per game, and can hurt you with his arm, and his feet. TCU runs a 4-wide attack, and likes to throw the ball to this Josh Doctson guy. A lot.
So far in six games, Doctson has what most receivers would be happy to call a good season. He has hauled in 50 receptions for 877 yards, and 10 touchdowns, and we are only halfway through the year.
TCU will get their run game going too. Led by Aaron Green and his 6.4 yards per carry, they run the QB read to perfection. The Horned Frogs also tout four seniors on their front line, and all carry a wealth of experience under their extra long belts.
Look out for #2 all over the field on Saturday, as the fans will be in for a treat, watching what will most likely be a Heisman finalist come December.
The Verdict - TCU by a wide margin
This isn't even close. TCU will put points on the board, and in bunches.
Cole Netten has been inconsistent, missing again last week. Lazard showed glimpses of greatness returning punts. I see a big day out of punter Colin Downing. He will lead all Cyclone players in yards.
TCU has a fourth-year starter at kicker and punter. Jared Oberkrom leads the nation in career field goals, and has a huge
Advantage - TCU again
Let's make it 3 for 3.
KnowDan's Beer Pick of the Week
If you haven't noticed by now, TCU wins this matchup on paper. In order for ISU to keep the game somewhat close, they have to give the ball to Warren 50-60 times, run the play clock all the way down to one, and hope that TCU's pregame meal is tainted.
Third Key to Victory - Mental Toughness
What worries me about this team is if they break down mentally. Last year's program gave up halfway through the season. Will this team show the grit and fortitude needed to fight through the lack of success on the field?
Rhoads continued to preach in the preseason that the locker room has turned a new leaf, and he carries leaders who can pick players up when times get tough.
Seeing that the next two matchups are two of the toughest of the season, this team needs to band together and keep strong. There are still winnable games remaining on the schedule, and while ISU is overwhelming underdogs against TCU and Baylor, it's important to use these games as stepping stones to improve for the rest of the season.
Back to my intro, Rhoads and company can't just settle. Be the aggressor! Try an overload blitz for the first time ever. Maybe go for it on 4th-and-5 at the 25, instead of kicking (and failing). What's the worst that can happen? You lose? At least go down with a fight.
TCU 65, Iowa State 21