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Player to Watch: Iowa

To beat Iowa, you have play like Iowa.

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Iowa State Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, I told you to keep an eye out for redshirt freshman Chase Allen. Well, Allen didn’t play a single snap until the second unit hit the field in the 4th quarter, making me look like a moron. While it surprised many people that Allen essentially never saw the field, the young tight end is far too talented to have simply not earned playing time, and I have heard nothing but glowing reviews of him as a person. Given the relatively conservative offensive playbook (as is somewhat common for the first game of the season), my guess is that the coaching stuff was saving Chase Allen’s play packages for the game against Iowa, in order to introduce new wrinkles and reads in the gameplan and force Josey Jewell to make impromptu defensive reads against a player that has literally no game film to study.

For the game against Iowa, my player to watch is Cyclone running back David Montgomery. in our UNI Post-Mortem, we highlighted a three play sequence in the second quarter which showed why he could be the most talented and physical running back Iowa State has seen since Troy Davis.

As Jay Jordan explained in his UNI recap article on Cyclone Fanatic, the best way way to beat Iowa seems to be playing their game. Run the ball, and run it some more. Wear down the defense throughout the game, then open up the passing game on a tired defense. I would expect Iowa State to utilize its talented stable of running backs to wear down the Hawkeye front seven. If you can make Iowa’s athletic linebackers chase ball-carriers sideline to sideline all game, that may be enough to wear them down and leave holes in the passing game for guys like Hakeem Butler, Trever Ryen, and Chase Allen to sneak into.

Iowa’s front seven is very talented, so Montgomery’s vision and spatial awareness become extremely useful tools when dealing with the inevitable plays when Iowa’s defensive line gets a push into the backfield.

If we look at this touchdown run last week, UNI gets good penetration through the line, which is then followed by an unblocked linebacker. However, Montgomery’s quick thinking and lateral quickness allowed him to see the unblocked linebacker, which had overplayed the A gap, and bounce the run outside for a touchdown. This is a perfect example of Montgomery’s intelligence, as he diagnosed a defense which had overplayed the inside run, and landed a perfect counter-punch.

Iowa’s linebackers are much more disciplined than UNI’s, so Montgomery will have to be extremely patient in his runs, waiting for holes to develop and countering any Hawkeye that becomes “greedy” and overplays a gap.

The matchup betwen Iowa State’s talented workhorse and Iowa’s disciplined front seven will certainly be an intriguing matchup to watch.