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Iowa State Cyclones vs. TCU Horned Frogs Preview

Matt Campbell looks to improve upon his undefeated season outside the state of Iowa.

TCU v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

The Cyclones make their second road trip of the season, traveling to the Longhorn state with a bare-knuckle brawl to open up Big 12 play against the hungry Gary Pattersons of TCU.

2016 Game III: Iowa State (0-2, 0-0) vs. Texas Christian University (1-1, 0-0)

Time: 11:00 a.m. CDT

Location: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas

Capacity: 45,000

Line: TCU -24

Television: Fox Sports 1

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network

Game Notes/Release

TCU Game Notes

SBN Nation Website – Frogs O’ War

Where We Last Left Off

Our heads were hanging low after a colossal in-state 42-3 defeat at the hands of the Iowa Hawkeyes. Fans were expecting to see progression, but what they got was the same team with multiple mental mistakes, penalties, and missed assignments.

The bus ride was a long one back to Ames with a lot of question marks arising about the new coaching staff. Maybe we drank too much Kool-Aid before the season, and forgot how hard it really is to turn around a program of this caliber. While the recruiting classes have been other worldly, it takes time to develop Matt Campbell’s type of players. It is evident the system he has brought in needs his type of athletes — therefore, we are in yet another rebuilding stage.

But that’s OK. I’ve heard multiple members of the media give their advice, and all of them say that Campbell needs to scrap what he is doing and make the playbook simpler for his team.

I disagree.

The man was brought in here to change things up, spice it up, and win his way. And while that may take time, as long as this staff continues to preach the fundamentals, we will see progress as the season goes on.

Let the system run its course. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

The Series

TCU leads the all-time series 6-1, with ISU’s only victory coming in Fort Worth in 2012. That was also the last time ISU beat a ranked team.

Gary Patterson is 4-1 all-time against the Cyclones, and beat ISU in Ames last year by a score of 45-21. That game was closer than people realize, as ISU led after one quarter 21-14.

Horny Toad Tidbits

TCU comes off a back-breaking double-overtime loss to Arkansas last week, losing 41-38. The Horned Frogs had the game won after a 64-yard kick return by stud KeVontae Turpin in the closing minutes of regulation, but their 28-yard field goal try was blocked, and forced OT.

TCU falls out of the top 25, and comes into this game at 1-1. They were picked second in the conference, and by some as a dark horse in the College Football Playoff. Patterson likes to play his young’uns, and so far 12 freshmen have seen the field.

This team on paper looks a lot like another one-dimensional team in the Big 12 Conference — Texas Tech. TCU averages more than 617 yards and 48 points per game on offense, but give up 432 yards and 41 points on the defensive side. Patterson is usually known for his defensive prowess, but this year has given up big plays, and has been unable to make any stops in the red zone.

ISU Offense

While TCU puts up video game numbers of 48 points per game, the Cyclones have amassed just 23 points in two games. Woof.

It all starts with the offensive line, and so far they have lived up to the hype. Bad hype that is. The Cyclones average a paltry 3.0 yards-per-carry in the running game, have scored zero rushing touchdowns, and their longest gain of the season is 12 yards.

“Here is a caveat – interestingly enough at this point last year – the Cyclones were WORSE in the running game. After playing the same two teams (UNI and Iowa), ISU averaged 2.4 yards per carry, and averaged 70 yards per game, compared to this year at 88.5.”

First Key to Victory — Hop on the Mike Warren Train

It all starts with #2, and once this man gets things going, he opens up the whole offense. It’s clear that Tom Manning’s vision for his offense is the running game. The majority of his play calls hinge on a solid gain on first down. With the lack of push up front, we are forced to scrap the system and turn into a passing offense, which we are not. It will be paramount that Warren gains yards downfield and can get into the second line of defense. If not, it will be a long day.

Campbell said in his press conference that Joel Lanning is the starter. With the leash as short as it is, I think we see a lot of Jacob Park in this one. Park impressed me with his decisiveness and accurate arm. If Lanning shows up like he did in Iowa City, then the keys will be handed to #10.

Allen Lazard has continued his dominance, leading the Big 12 in receiving yards per game. We need to see a heavy dose of him in this one if we want to have a chance, and also get the likes of Trever Ryen (2 touches against Iowa) and others involved in the passing game — namely Hakeem Butler and Dondre Daley (both coming off injuries).

TCU Defense

Nobody runs the 4-2-5 defense better than Gary Patterson. It all starts up front, and since 2000, TCU is second in the nation in rushing defense. Last year they were decimated by injuries, with a total of 10 starters out at various points in the season.

The Horned Frogs line up two down-linemen at the point of attack, and are led by Nebraska transfer Aaron Curry. The 270-pound senior ranked in the top-10 nationally in run-stop percentage a season ago.

On the outside, they have two playmakers coming off season-ending injuries from a year ago: Preseason All-Big 12 senior Josh Carraway and James McFarland. Both line up in two-point stances (similar to ISU’s LEO), and are ranked second and third, respectively, in career sacks in the Big 12.

So far it has been a free-for-all at the linebacker position. Patterson switched out his starters from the first game, and brought in young blood. Sammy Douglas benefited in the Arkansas game, tallying 17 total tackles against the Razorbacks. The other linebacker is Ty Summers, accounting for 10 stops in his debut.

TCU’s linebackers and nickel backs are severely undersized, as they average just over 210 pounds. But what they lack in girth, they gain in speed in the passing game, slowing down spread offenses. Patterson’s 4-2-5 scheme is known as one of the best, and you can read more about it here.

The secondary has been dreadful so far against their first two opponents, allowing 9.3 yards per pass (missed tackles and deep balls), 278 passing yards per game, and a pass defense efficiency rating of 171, good for 120th in all of college football.

If there is one thing that this team lacks so far, it’s a pass rush and a decent secondary.

Verdict — EVEN

Now you must be thinking: how can you possibly give ISU any credit with their lackluster offensive line? The fact that we were actually worse last year at this point gives me hope they can get it together, and due to TCU and all their struggles stopping teams on third down and in the passing game, I see ISU putting up a few points on the scoreboard and moving the ball.

ISU Defense

This matchup might be a different story.

I expect the Cyclone to go full-on spread defense attack. What I mean by that is this, Campbell and his cronies brought in a plethora of talented defensive backs, and for exactly this reason: Big 12 offenses love to throw the ball.

Second Key to Victory — SLOW DOWN the Passing Attack

Notice I didn’t say STOP the passing attack. With as good as TCU’s is, we probably won’t hold them under 400 yards through the air. But it doesn’t matter if they can’t get in the end zone.

With the kind of playmakers we have, we will see more opportunities for pass breakups, interceptions and big stops on third down. Now it is time for Nigel Tribune (first game back), Brian Peavy, Jomal Wiltz, Jay Jones, D’Andre Payne (gamebreaker), and Evrett Edwards to put a solid game together. This team has the talent and depth to compete against the best this conference has to offer.

And we have two good safeties in Johnson and Cotton-Moya.

The defensive line on the other hand, is not so hot. Demond Tucker is the only standout player, and while a bright spot in the Iowa game, Jhaustin Thomas does not have the stamina, nor the mental toughness to play every snap. TCU gains a huge advantage with their experienced offensive line and ability to run the ball.

My crystal ball tells me Kane Seeley’s days at linebacker are numbered. With the wide splits and horizontal passing game TCU plays, I think defensive coordinator Jon Heacock needs to go with his two fastest linebackers on the field: Willie Harvey and Reggan Northrup.

TCU Offense

Kenny Hill is the only player in the country to rank in the top-five in rushing touchdowns, total offense, AND passing yards per game. On top of that, he leads the Horned Frogs in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. They like to give him space on designed runs inside the red zone, and he is blessed with a stellar receiving corps.

The linebackers will be exposed in this one with a lot of crossing patterns and combination routes in their line of defense. TCU’s co-offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie make it easy for Kenny Hill’s reads.

Shown below are passes on back-to-back drives against Arkansas to speedy slot-receiver KaVontae Turpin.

If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it. TCU found a hole in the secondary and converted both times for big gains. The Horned Frogs like to pass first, run second, and they do a great job of spacing.

They also like to get everyone involved, with five receivers combining for 54 catches in two games. Turpin leads the team with 94 yards per game, and his counterpart Taj Williams hauled in 11 balls in their first stanza.

TCU leads the nation in third down efficiency, evident by the escapability of their QB; but have also been hurt by the turnover bug, throwing a pick-six last week, and are MINUS-THREE in turnover differential on the season.

Verdict — TCU

The Horned Frogs will get theirs, most likely from the strong arm (and legs) of Kenny Hill. The man has been unstoppable so far and will be a nightmare for our linebackers and defensive contain when he tucks and runs. If you thought Aaron Bailey was good, wait until you see this guy.

Special Teams

TCU is in bit of a quandary in their kicking game, especially after a 28-yard potentially game-winning kick was blocked last week. They carry with them two walk-on freshmen for kickoff and placekicking duties, and have struggled thus far. The freshman punter isn’t much better, as Adam Nunez has netted an affable 33 yards per punt.

Advantage Allen Lazard and Trever Ryen. I see them both providing a spark in the punt return game.

Third Key to Victory — Don’t Kick the Ball to Turpin

This guy is good — real good.

Turpin leads the conference in all-purpose yards per game, punt-return average, AND kick-return average. The 5-foot-9 speedster has already taken one back to the house and is a momentum-shifter waiting to happen.

Verdict — TCU

Final Analysis

After last week’s debacle in Iowa City, it’s hard for me to go with anyone other than TCU. I look forward to seeing progress made, and an identity on offense.

The defense will have their work cut out for them, but with Tribune back in the lineup, it will be fun to see what these studs in the secondary can do against a pass-happy offense. We have yet to see what they are made of.

In my opinion, I think this will be the last start for Joel Lanning. He doesn’t fit what we are trying to accomplish against Big 12 competition, especially with as many points as other teams put up. Park showed me a lot more upside and potential for this offense to produce in the passing game, and with how far behind we will be in this one, he will be called upon quickly.

Final Score

TCU 45, ISU 17