2019 Game X: Iowa State (5-4, 3-3) vs. #22 University of Texas (6-3, 4-2)
Date: Saturday, November 16th, 2019
Time: 2:30 P.M. CST
Location: MidAmerican Energy Field and Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA
Line: ISU -7
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
What a game, what a game.
It’s hard to feel bad about losing to a team of Oklahoma’s caliber, especially after spotting the #9 team in the country a 21-point margin on the road, but this team showed grit.
Here is what Coach Campbell had to say after the game:
“I’ll be really honest with you, I’d rather talk about our kids. The courage, the toughness. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is one of my most favorite teams I’ve ever coached. I love the resolve. We’re not perfect. I certainly wish we were. I see us continuing to grow in so many ways. I thought our character showed tonight in a lot of ways. We’re a point short, but I couldn’t be prouder of what our team stands for.”
I can’t say this enough: teams of old would have hung their heads and given up. Coaching staffs in the past would not have the intestinal fortitude (nor the ability) to change their game plan and adjust at a moment’s notice. This team may have come up a bit short, but I think the comeback in that game showed us a lot more about the FUTURE of this program than just a loss in the record books.
When we last left off….
Yes, Iowa State has lost four games this year. Yes, they have underperformed to our expectations. But they are also in every single game, and have proven they can hang with A-N-Y-O-N-E. Some fans are mad that ISU can’t finish, but’ll come, Cyclone faithful. This team is YOUNG, there is a lot to be excited about, and as the roster adapts and progresses, we WILL WIN these games.
After that bit on my soap box, there were a lot of mistakes made in last week’s game. The first half was quite pitiful – full of missed tackles, 3-and-outs, and missed interceptions on defense.
All of this and ISU still had a shot to win at the end. You can argue the 2-point conversion attempt all day, but it was the right call, folks. On the road, in that environment, against a top-10 opponent – you have to take the 50/50 chance of converting that play to win the game. I loved the call.
This was supposed to be the year the Longhorns were to dismantle the Sooners and be crowned Big 12 Champs. They were picked to finish 2nd, but some media pundits thought this was the year for them to run the table. Coach Tom Herman is in his 3rd year at the helm, he brought back the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year in Quarterback Sam Ehlinger, and was thought to have enough athletes on defense to proclaim “Texas is Back.”
Not quite. Overpaid Defensive Coordinator Todd Orlando has really struggled, but only he is partly to blame. Injuries have been a concern, especially in the secondary, as Texas was down FIVE defensive backs only a week or so ago. Some are back, but not all are at 100%, and another is serving suspension for a cheap shot.
The Longhorns kept it close with LSU early in the season, but in the end lost to (in my opinion) the eventual National Champs. They kept it close with OU, only to lose by 7, and stumbled a few weeks ago at TCU. All in all, not what Matthew McConaughey and Longhorn fans expected, as UT is 6-3 heading into blustery cold Ames, IA this weekend.
Texas leads the all-time series 14-2, as UT has won the last three.
Tom Herman and this Texas Longhorn program have been a thorn in Matt Campbell’s side since he got here. The only Big 12 Team Campbell has yet to beat – that’s right, BEVO and the Longhorns.
Texas has been known for their overwhelming physicality and in the past ISU has tried to beat Texas at their own game. It’s similar to the struggles we see against “The Team Out East,” and if the Cyclones want to make their statement win of the 2019 season, they will have to spread it out and play their finesse-style passing attack to the best of their abilities.
Iowa State Offense
That means Iowa State will put this game on the shoulders of Brock Purdy, and I know he is up for the challenge. While UT has been plagued my multiple injuries in their secondary, two premier defensive backs returned to action last week, and a third will most likely come back on Saturday. Previous teams have slaughtered the Longhorn D, as they give up the most passing touchdowns, and are 2nd to last in passing yards given up.
First Key to Victory – Take What the Defense Gives You
This seems so simple, but a lot of teams (and overzealous quarterbacks) try and win the game on one play. After the Okie State game, Purdy made it clear he put too much pressure on himself to make a big play, when all he had to do was slow down and take what was in front of him. We will see lots of blitz packages (as Texas loves to do), and it will be important for Purdy to hit his open receivers on short- to intermediate-routes.
That means more La’Michael Pettway crossing patterns and I see another HUGE day out of Deshaunte Jones. The undisciplined mentality of Texas could pay dividends, as ISU can methodically move their way down the field with an accurate quarterback. Look for Charlie Kolar (and the other tight ends) in the red zone, and for Tarique Milton to take advantage of downfield one-on-one throws (like this one below)
I noticed a bevy of Texas plays where their safeties were out of position, and receivers were running free. Also a LOT of missed tackles. Advantage ISU. I would rather we spread them out than play the three-tight end sets.
If there was one silver lining to the OU performance, it was that Breece Hall belongs with the big boys, and made defenders look silly out there. His vision and ability to slip out of tackles is farther along than most true freshmen, as he ranks 5th in the nation among “Power 5” running backs in rushing yards the last four weeks.
The offensive line is playing against a defense that is not prone to sacking the quarterback, but do send blitzes from the secondary level. It will be important to communicate effectively and keep our consistent play moving forward.
This one is a mixed bag, along with a BIG question mark leading up to Saturday’s game.
To start the season, Todd Orlando and his defensive unit was seen as a top-tier unit in the Big 12. As play opened up, they faltered, most notably in the passing game. Texas gives up an average of 300 yards per game and a stunning 8.3 yards per attempt. Now some of that was due to injuries, others from scheme. In the other category, UT had given up nearly 700 yards on the ground their previous 3 games, only to hold KSU to 51. Figure that one out...
Orlando started with a 3-man front, before eventually moving to more 4-man in last week’s game. They run a 3-3-5, with multiple defensive backs. He has mixed in a bevy of underclassmen and different lineups, and has returned some of his previously injured playmakers in previous weeks.
All-Big 12 Preseason safety Caden Stearns and nickel-back B.J. Foster both returned last week after missing multiple games to injury. Safety Chris Brown is expected to play with a cast after missing the last few, while corner Jalen Green is suspended for the first half after a dumb personal foul targeting penalty.
It was a tale of two halves against KSU, as Texas allowed 13-of-17 passes for 217 yards and 2 TDs in the first stanza. The second half was 4-for-10 and only 36 yards and 0 TDs. They changed things up by turning to more zone coverage, and were able to get pressure off the edge.
The Longhorns are led by sophomore linebacker Joseph Ossai, who is 2nd in tackles, and leads the team in tackles-for-loss, quarterback hurries, forced fumbles and blocked kicks. This unit is young, as they start a true freshman at defensive tackle, and as a whole, UT has played 15 true freshmen in ’19.
Stearns is coming off a Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year campaign, and led the team in picks in 2018. His counterpart Brandon Jones leads the team in tackles (not good to see a safety in that category), and leads the team with two interceptions.
Malcolm Roach is the veteran of the bunch, and has played 43 games in burnt orange (with 19 starts). He plays defensive end on the 3-man line as part of UT’s attempt to copy Iowa State’s defensive scheme.
All in all, the ‘Horns’ defense features a variety of names, with multiple different starting lineups, but a roster full of 4- and 5-star recruits. Too many mental errors and missed tackles to proclaim them as a better-than-average defense, and a defensive coordinator that is getting paid way too much for his lack of production thus far.
The Verdict – ISU
Gotta give the edge to the Cyclones here. These are they kinds of defenses that ISU dominates, and I foresee a big day out of Purdy in the passing game. I think the cold weather will play a small factor in this one as well. ISU will be used to the conditions, but Texas will not.
Iowa State Defense
The first half against OU went about as bad as it could have. 35 points was abysmal, but this team simply played better fundamentally in the second half. They wrapped up at the point of attack, and kept everything in front of them.
I was surprised to see freshman Tayvonn Kyle starting the game at cornerback (for Datrone Young), but he did a solid job of holding his own. Some of the blitzes worked (while others did not), but Heacock and company had to try and force the ball out of Hurts’s hands sooner, and they did that.
Second Key to Victory – Contain the Ehlinger Run
I expect to see our safeties up in the box more, and for the linebackers to key on Ehlinger out of the backfield. Marcel Spears is having a special season, and will continue upon his success on Saturday. Mike Rose and O’Rien Vance need to do a better job of not losing contain, especially if they want to slow down #11 on these designed quarterback-runs (especially in the red zone).
The defensive line will have their work cut out for them, but none will be more important than Ray Lima. He is the focal point and is going up against one of the Big 12’s best in center Zach Shackelford. If ISU were to get pressure, it will most likely come from the second and third levels, or a speeding bullet named Greg Eisworth.
While Eisworth missed an opportunity at a pick-six last week, he still played admirably with a sore shoulder. Look for Justin Bickham to spell him, and for this defensive secondary to be aggressive at getting after the ball. Coach Campbell knows forcing turnovers is not just luck..
“Everybody says, ‘Man, the ball has to bounce your way,’ Campbell said after the OU game. “That’s not really true. Really in football you’ve got to make the ball bounce your way. We started to do that at times in the second half of the football game, which I was really proud of.”
Lets hope this defense has been practicing the “tip drill” all week.
This unit goes where Quarterback Sam Ehlinger takes them. Going into the year, he was tabbed as Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, and while his stats have been solid, he has not played with his hair on fire.
Ehlinger has passed AND rushed for a touchdown in 11 of his 22 games he has played. He is just as big of a threat running the ball, as he is passing it, and is 6th in the country with 338 total yards per game. Maybe the biggest accomplishment for the junior out of Austin, TX is staying healthy, as that had been a problem in years past.
He has two lethal weapons at his disposal, but none better than receiver Devin Duvernay.
The former Texas high-school 100-meter dash champ is about as consistent as they come, hauling in at least SIX catches in ALL NINE games he has played this year. They use Duvernay all over the field – in the backfield, out wide, but he is most dangerous in the slot.
He is the Deshaunte Jones of this offense, and has made 20 catches on third down, with 17 going for first downs. He is 2nd in the country in receptions (78) and 10th in yards (910).
While Duvernay is the underneath guy, the big playmaker is 6-foot-6 Collin Johnson. Johnson is coming off back-to-back 100-yard receiving games, but is plagued with a hamstring injury, and would be a huge void for this passing attack if he can’t play.
The offensive line is experienced and combine for 132 career starts, but will make their first lineup change of the year with right guard Junior Angilau nursing an MCL injury. Even with all that experience, they have still given up the most sacks by a Big 12 team, allowing 25 on the year.
Running back Keontay Ingram is coming off his best game of his career, running for a personal-best 139 yards on an 8.7 yard-per-carry average versus K-State. The sophomore added nearly 25 pounds in the offseason and showed his physicality last week, running for two touchdowns.
Texas runs shotgun primarily, and has recently moved away from the tight end (out with injury), playing 4-wide. They love love love running Ehlinger in the red zone, and sometimes carry an extra blocker as an up-back.
The Verdict – Texas
This one is close, but the dynamics of the playmakers on offense for Texas tips the scales. ISU’s defense plays well as a unit, but have been gashed for big plays as of late. It will be important to play a full four quarters if ISU wants to come away with a win.
He is known as “Dicker the Kicker,” and Cameron Dicker has now made three game-winning kicks for the Longhorns. One of those came last week, as the sophomore is now 12-for-16 on field goals in 2019.
Third Key to Victory – No Special Teams Mistakes
ISU hasn’t had to use their kickers recently, but if there was ever a game against a big opponent, this one is it. Look for Connor Assalley to shake off any rust, and be the man for the job moving forward.
Punter Joe Rivera was up and down last week, with a poor punt and a few other good ones. He will need to keep it on the straight and arrow moving forward.
After all the injuries Texas has had – add one more to the list. Starting punter Ryan Bujcevski managed to break his collarbone a few weeks ago, and in his absence Chris Naggar has been even better, averaging 46 yards per boot.
Texas’s kick return game is one of the best in the Conference, but is skewed by one long return. Believe it or not, before last week’s 53-yard return on a punt, Texas had a total of negative-13 return yards. Hmm, at least this one was good…
As always, ISU doesn’t like to return the ball.
Verdict – Texas
Yeah, just the fact that they have a great slogan in “Dicker the Kicker” wins this one…
Winning Scale from 1 to 10
I pity any team that has to play Iowa State after that loss last week. And if we are pulling out the black uniforms – you know what that means… (undefeated)
It will be a workman-like performance, just like all the hard-working farmers in Iowa. With 1 being farm ground in Texas (dry, desolate, tumbleweeds), and a 10 in Iowa (rich, black, fertile of course), I give Iowa State a Midwesterner’s shot of taking down the Longhorns.
I think both teams will put up points, but it won’t be as electric as last week. Texas has the talent (and coaching) to play up for big games, but the cold weather will play a factor.
Make sure to take your heart medication - this one will be close yet again.
Look for ISU to play their style of offensive football – finesse, outside the hashes, and utilize our speed downfield. With that being said, Ehlinger and company will get theirs, but it won’t be enough in Ames.
The Cyclones finally win a close one, and the Black Uniforms live on in the record books.
Iowa State 31
Hit us up with your predictions in the comment section below!