As Jug Of Snyder continues experimenting with new features, we teamed up with Fansided’s Clones Confidential this week to preview this weekend’s match-up between the K-State Wildcats and the Iowa State Cyclones. Although this game usually features at least one team trying to find its footing, Saturday looks to be a great pairing with the undefeated and #5 team in the country on the road to take on a #25 Iowa State team fresh off a trouncing of #15 (at the time) TCU and looking all the part a top 25 opponent. So without further ado, here’s the first half of my conversation with Clone Confidential’s lead editor, Brian Spaen:
Dave (Jug of Snyder): Quarterback Collin Klein has managed to pick up right where he left off last season, and remains on the fringes of Heisman candidacy. Through five games he’s generated 405 yards rushing while picking up seven touchdowns. He’s paired in the backfield with John Hubert, a cannonball of power and speed who’s averaging 6.9 yards/carry. What are Iowa State’s chances of stymieing the Wildcat rushing attack?
Brian (Clones Confidential): Iowa State is currently ranked 31st in the nation in rush defense, but their only real challenge was the season opener against Tulsa. The Cyclones held them to 160 yards, and gave up the most rushing yards against TCU last week with their new mobile quarterback, Trevone Boykin, picking up 161 of the 185 total yards. That doesn’t bode well if Iowa State wants to contain both Klein and Hubert. They need to put Klein under pressure unlike they could against Boykin, because they can’t count on Klein making mistakes. A.J. Klein and Jake Knott, who recorded 22 tackles combined last week (Klein had all nine by himself), need to lead the defense and cannot give up the team’s current average of 4.1 yards per carry on first down. If any dual-threat quarterback gets a short second or third down, it could be a long day for the defense.
On the other side, Iowa State has started their backup quarterback, replacing Jared Barnett with Steele Jantz again in the middle of the season. The team seems to respond well with Barnett in the game, and they had a very balanced attack against a tough TCU defense. The Cyclones’ receivers don’t have big numbers, but Josh Lenz had five catches for 147 yards and three touchdowns, including two long catches over 50 yards for touchdown. What concerns you most about Iowa State’s offense against Kansas State’s defense?
Dave: Forget about the final score last week – KU straight up made K-State look bad in the first half of last week’s game in Manhattan. If Paul Rhoads is smart – and from what I hear, the man’s pretty damn smart – he’ll be dissecting the KU game plan to find potential mismatches on the outside. K-State pretty much refuses to abandon a bend-but-don’t-break style of defense, and keeps its corners off the line of scrimmage. The effect this had last year was the ability to contain the long ball, but it gave up a lot of short and medium yardage plays.
Going back to KU’s offensive attack (which is almost an oxymoron these days), the Jayhawks threw a lot of screens and quick out routes to spread out the Wildcat defense, with the occasional draw up the middle as K-State’s defenders moved out of the box. The effect was two straight touchdown drives that put KU up 14-7 to start the game. The key will be Barnett’s quickness and accuracy in releasing the ball – no five step drops here. If K-State isn’t able to make the adjustments necessary to prevent being burned a second time with this approach, expect running backs James White and Shontrelle Johnson to rack up as many yards receiving as they do rushing.
The other thing the Cyclones should do against K-State is play smart and not beat themselves. It’s the most cliched adage in sports, but the reason K-State is ranked #5 in the nation is that they play smart. The Wildcat defense has forced 13 turnovers on the year, two of which came from a sack/forced fumble on Oklahoma’s Landry Jones and a interception that resulted from Jones being pressured into throwing a bad pass off his back foot (a third turnover came from an Oklahoma fumble at the two yard line that was critical in the victory). Speaking of pressure, what’s this team’s answer to the pressure K-State’s defense is going to bring on Saturday?