This will be a hard-fought, physical matchup in Ames on Saturday, and, as always, will probably be won or lost in the trenches. Iowa State’s defensive line is as rock-solid as they come, so there’s not much to worry about there. However, Iowa State’s consistently inconsistent offensive line is exactly why I’m picking Julian Good-Jones as the offensive player to watch this week. I have probably been the harshest critic of Julian Good-Jones out of all the Wide Right Natty Lite contributors for the last few years, but his matchup and play against A.J. Epenesa is going to be absolutely critical to the game on Saturday.
Good-Jones’ play has been all over the board throughout his career, often showing flashes of potential, then immediately getting blown by on the next play. Make no mistake about it though, this Saturday will be his biggest test all season. Epenesa gave JGJ fits last season, and it’s likely the two will be matched up again on Saturday.
Look for Iowa State to do multiple things to help out when they can. Ideally, you would like to leave Good-Jones alone one on one with Epenesa, but right now I don’t think that is a viable option. Tom Manning can use a tight end chip and release or just keep one tight end back to help out at all times. Obviously this limits the route tree a bit, but it’s better than sitting at 2nd and 15 all game long.
Iowa State’s offensive line against Iowa’s defensive line is the matchup that could decide the outcome of this year’s CyHawk game. Considering how Iowa State’s offensive line has been the last few seasons, it is a scary thought to have that much riding on one position group. If Iowa State can’t run the ball or allow Brock Purdy time in the pocket, it’s going to be the 2018 Cy-Hawk game all over again.
I really hope this is less of an issue than what some believe it can be. If it does, it works into Iowa State’s favor. Regardless, this will be a pivotal matchup on Saturday.