ISU is set to face Baylor on Saturday, the end of a three-game gauntlet, where they will have faced the top-three offenses in the nation. Good Night and Good Luck.
2015 Game VII: Iowa State (2-4, 1-2) vs. Baylor University (6-0, 3-0)
Date: October 24, 2015
Time: 11:00 AM CST
Location: McLane Stadium, Waco, TX
Line: Baylor -37, O/U 79.5
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
In order for any coach to be good at what he does, he has to be good at in-game adjustments. In Paul Rhoads' stubborn seven-year tenure he has been unable to make those adjustments. And it has clearly showed in the second half of games this year. This year's Cyclone team has the necessary talent, but not the right guidance. So far, ISU has been outgained and outscored in the second stanza of nearly every game, and has yet to put together a complete 60 minute effort.
The TCU game showed us Riverboat gambler Rhoads. For one quarter that is. It rubbed off on the crowd, and there was some excitement in the air. Then TCU's Gary Patterson did what every good coach does - he made changes. Rhoads stuck with the same old script, and it didn't work. And it hasn't worked all year.
What separates the good from the great coaches is their ability to counter attack, and make adjustments on the fly. ISU came into the game with a successful gameplan. It worked for one quarter. But they forgot to change it in the last three..
When we last left off....
The Cyclones lost to TCU by a score of 21-45 last week. The offense showed some explosiveness in the first quarter, with Sam (and Lanning) chucking the ball deep. They took advantage of the lack of TCU's secondary depth, and found Lazard and company in single coverage downfield.
The defense continued to play on their heels, and again missed way too many tackles. I've noticed since day one that this defensive backfield lacks speed, especially up the middle with the safety and linebacker position. Too many times the deep ball was completed because the safety help didn't get there in time, and the linebackers weren't nearly fast enough to shred blocks and make tackles on the outside.
Baylor is currently ranked number two in the nation. They are 6-0, and vying for the playoff spot and Big 12 crown with TCU. Art Briles and company return 30 veterans, who have lettered on back-to-back Big 12 championship teams. They have continued to re-write the offensive record books, by outscoring their opponents 383-149 on the year.
Baylor leads the all-time series 7-6. ISU last beat the Bears in 2012, behind QB Steele Jantz's five touchdown passes and LB Jake Knott's balls of solid rock.
Iowa State Offense
Sam Richardson looked competent last week, completing 22 of 36 passes for 251 yards. Slinging Sammy B was successful at throwing the deep ball, hooking up with Allen Lazard, who hauled in five catches for 147 yards. Joel Lanning accounted for 74 of those yards to Lazard, on a long TD pass in the first quarter, but never played another snap.
Paul Rhoads' remarks in this week's press conference as to why Lanning didn't see the field - "he should have played more." Uh, ok Paul, I guess that's why they pay you the big bucks.
RB Mike Warren is in fact human after all. He was held to 3.5 yards per carry against TCU. Warren and offensive lineman Daniel Burton were both hampered by injuries, but should be good to go against Baylor this week. Losing Burton would be huge, and I would be ok with him sitting this one out, as we need to save him for the remainder of the season.
In order for ISU to keep this game out of reach, they will have to continue to churn out yards on the ground. The Tebow package for Lanning should give ISU a two-headed monster in the backfield, and allow the Cyclones to run some clock. I see both quarterbacks sharing snaps, as ISU wants to get more of their future QB on the field. Lanning provides a big body that can create mismatches in the run game, as Mangino has made it evident this year that he does not want Richardson running the ball.
ISU can't go score for score against the Bears, but they need to put points on the board in long sustained drives to slow the game down.
The Baylor Bears are led on defense by none other than Super Freak 6-foot-9 defensive end Shawn Oakman. Baylor ranks second in the league in rush defense, allowing only 138 yards per game, and carry three seniors on their defensive line.
There is no way getting around this. Baylor is the most athletic defense that ISU has faced, and probably will face all year. They are a complete mismatch for ISU's offensive line, and will create havoc in the backfield.
While they may be athletic, they are also undisciplined. Baylor loves to send blitzes, and Sam Richardson needs to react with quick throws, while the receivers have to do a better job of getting off jam coverage on the outside.
The Verdict - Baylor
Baylor brings back nine starters on defense for Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett and crew. They possess an advantage with speed and a knack for creating turnovers. ISU will have to gain yards on first and second down, otherwise Oakman and his cronies will pin their ears back and make it a long day for Sam.
Iowa State Defense
I'm not going to sugar coat this for you readers. The Cyclones are completely overmatched against Baylor's offense. The 3-man front for ISU has created no pressure the last two games, and won't in this game either. Pierson and Tucker will have to focus completely on stopping the run game in this one. Plus Baylor has an outstanding front five that has allowed only 6 sacks on the year.
Baylor likes to spread defenses out, and then run right up the gut with their 3-headed monster at running back. LB Jordan Harris better bring his lunch pail on Saturday. He will see a lot of quick snaps and runs up the middle, and can ill afford to miss tackles.
Look for Wally to mix the scheme up a bit, with more of a base package in the middle focusing on the running attack, and corners playing back so they don't get beat deep. He did a better job last week, sending blitzes at opportune times, just the secondary was unable to knock the ball down.
The Bears average 720 yards and 64 points per game. That is not a misprint.
They light up the scoreboard in first halves of games, averaging 39 points by halftime. Baylor likes to place their receivers as far away from the ball as possible, and have recruited track stars at that position. Led by Corey Coleman and his 877 yards and 16 touchdowns, the Bears will play-action the crap out of teams, and throw it deep.
As good as they are in the passing game, Baylor is even better at running the ball. The Bears have three running backs that rank in the top-10 in the Big 12 in rushing. Led by Junior Shock Linwood and his 8.5 yards per carry, the Bears average 349 yards on the ground. That is good for second in the country.
I'm not going to bore you with any more video game statistics.
Verdict - Baylor by a Secretariat margin of 31 Lengths
This is men against boys. Art Briles is an offensive mastermind, loves America, and is out to put as many style points as possible for the College Football Playoff committee. He only knows three speeds, and that is fast, faster, and fastest.
Baylor has only punted 12 times this year. There have been instances where ISU has almost punted that many times in one game. Woof
If there's one good stat for ISU, it's that WR Allen Lazard ranks fifth nationally in punt returns. Too bad he won't receive any punts this game.
Advantage - Baylor
Based on the fact that this team doesn't even need to punt gives them the edge in this one.
KnowDan's Beer Pick of the Week
This is a double edged sword of a beer pick. On one hand I want to recommend something like Steel Reserve to not only rekindle the memories of Iowa State's best quarterback magician, but also blind you completely to the events that will transpire on Saturday.
On the other I want to give you something good like Bell's 30th Anniversary Ale, which I saw on tap at El Bait Shop yesterday. The pro side to this recommendation is that once you get your hands on it you'll be able to enjoy Baylor pillaging and plundering our defense through the hazy aroma and taste of chocolate and vanilla.
In case you haven't noticed, I haven't displayed my keys to victory for this game. That is because there are none. Baylor leads the nation with 19 straight home victories, and I don't see that streak being broken on Saturday.
But I also don't see this as bad as it was two years ago. This ISU team has way more talent and veteran depth to not let the game get as bad. Mangino needs to save Sam Richardson from the wolves, as we still have five games remaining on the schedule.
Look for the Joel Lanning experience to gain some traction in this one, but we can't give him the car keys just yet. There is a light at the end of this three-game tunnel, and ISU needs to make sure that they continue to improve for winnable games like Texas next week.
I am a glass half-full guy - you fans may have thrown in the towel, but there are still winnable games on the schedule. I'm excited for the future of ISU football, with or without Rhoads on the sidelines, as there is a lot of young talent on this roster. Rhoads has recruited better, and has ammunition with a fantastic freshman running back and a stud sophomore at receiver.
The defense has some bright spots too. Nigel Tribune and Kamari Cotton-Moya are legitimate players in the secondary, they just haven't had the pieces around them. The linebacker position is slow, but there is potential there with Jay Jones and Wilie Harvey on the outside. Every conference game they play only makes them better. Take a deep breath Cyclone fans, by 2:30 on Saturday you won't have to worry about hearing any more Baylor fight songs being played.
Keys to Victory - None
Make sure to keep your beer fridge fully stocked for this one.
Iowa State 28