Know Thine Enemy: Iowa State Will Look To Control The Ball


This week Texas Tech hosts the Iowa State Cyclones on Saturday at 2:30 pm. Due to the lack of a rivalry with Iowa State, many Texas Tech fans are likely to know little about the team that will be coming into Jones Stadium for the Red Raiders’ Homecoming game.

A look at the statistics and personnel of Iowa State explains why Texas Tech is a heavy favorite heading into this matchup.

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The Iowa State Offense

Conventional wisdom says that the game of football is all about the quarterback. That being said, Iowa State is the only team in the Big 12 conference other than TCU to have a senior starting at quarterback. Unfortunately for the Cyclones, Sam B. Richardson is about as average as college quarterbacks come.

Despite playing a weak schedule to open the season (Northern Iowa, Iowa, Toledo and Kansas) Richardson is averaging only 252.5 yards per game through the air. He has only thrown for a total of seven touchdowns while tossing three interceptions. Richardson is the classic game manager at quarterback. It is safe to say that Iowa State goes into each game not expecting Richardson to win the contest but praying that he won’t lose it.

Many felt that the Iowa State receiving corps would be the strongest unit on the team and one of the best in the conference. However, that has not been the case so far this season.

Iowa State’s star wide receiver, Quentin Bundrage, missed last season due to a torn knee ligament and so far hasn’t seemed to be the same player that tied a school record with 9 touchdown receptions in 2013.   So far, the 6-foot-2 senior has caught only 11 passes for 103 yards and 1 score in four games as he works his way back into shape.

Instead of Bundrage, sophomore receiver Allen Lazard has become the team’s top receiver. The 6-foot-5, 223 lb. pass catcher could pose a challenge to a Texas Tech secondary that has struggled with defending large receivers in the past two weeks. Lazard averages a pedestrian 56.25 receiving yards per game but it would be shocking if the Cyclones did not take a few early shots with Lazard to see if the Tech corners can handle his size.

In fact, Iowa State features a number of tall receivers. Besides Bundrage and Lazard, Texas Tech will also have to deal with D’Vario Montgomery (6-foot-6) and Dondre Daley (6-foot-2).   If Iowa State has an advantage in this game, it is the size of the Cyclone outside receivers against the smaller Texas Tech defensive backs.

Since the Cyclone passing game is sub par, logic would dictate that its running game would have to be the bread and butter of the offense. However, the Cyclones’ running game may be even worse than the passing attack.

In four games this season, Iowa State has run for only 590 yards (147.5 per game). Its leading rusher is a freshman, Mike Warren from Lawton, Oklahoma. The 6-foot-1, 200 pound back haas averaged 82.25 yards per game on the ground, so far no other player on the Iowa State roster has rushed for more than 100 total yards this year.

The harsh reality is that Iowa State’s offense is average at best. Second-year offensive coordinator Mark Mangino is overseeing the No. 81 ranked offense in America leaving many in Ames disappointed after fielding the No. 89 ranked offense in 2014.

The Iowa State Defense

On the surface the statistics make the Iowa State defense look much tougher than it is. Currently ranked 21st in the nation in total defense, the Cyclones are allowing only 344 yards and 20 points per game.

However, when taking in these statistics it would be best to consider the competition Iowa State has faced thus far. The Cyclone defense surrendered 30 points to Toledo and 31 to Iowa, neither of which have the offensive fire power that Texas Tech will bring into Saturday’s game.

Red shirt freshman corner back Brian Peavy leads the Iowa State defense with 27 tackles, while junior linebacker Jordan Harris is second on the team with 26 tackles. When a defensive back has a high number of tackles, it means that he is having a high number of passes completed against him.

"Meanwhile, the Cyclones consider their defensive line the best group of the defense. According to the Des Moines Register, “A majority of the pre-season chatter surrounding the line has been about what newcomers Demond Tucker, Bobby Leath and Jhaustin Thomas are expected to bring to the program. The line also includes returns veterans Trent Taylor, Dale Pierson, and Vernell Trent.” Link"

In fact, Pierson leads the team with six sacks but considering the manner in which Texas Tech left tackle Le’Raven Clark dominated Baylor’s Shawn Oakman, it is hard to fear the 6-foot-2, 249-pound California native.

Iowa State’s defensive ranking is a case where the statistics do not tell the entire story. After playing one of the weakest schedules in the nation through four games, the Cyclones’ defense is merely a paper tiger. Expect Pat Mahomes and the Texas Tech offense to have plenty of scoring opportunities against this pedestrian unit.


The 2015 edition of the Iowa State Cyclones is not impressive. One of the worst Texas Tech teams in decades went into Ames last year and came out with a victory and this year’s Iowa State squad is not markedly better.  If Iowa State is to keep the game close, it will have to use its senior quarterback and large receivers to keep the ball away from the Red Raider offense.

The biggest concern Red Raider fans should have is the psyche of the football team. If Kliff Kingsbury is able to get his team motivated to face the Cyclones and play at a high level following two intense losses, the Texas Tech football team should be in great shape to earn the season’s first conference victory and move to within two wins of earning a bowl birth.

Next: Texas Tech Faces Gauntlet As Injuries Mount