Iowa State is in a race for the bottom of the Big XII-3+1 right now, and they will be starting a Freshman QB Jared Barnett on Saturday. This would seem to be a recipe for an easy Tech win. However, like some Tech teams of the past, we have seen a bit of Jekyll and Hyde from the 2011 squad. For those new to the site, it wasn't too long ago when we were lamenting the bad loss around here. The game against Iowa State has "bad loss" potential written all over it.
It's amazing how much better the week goes after a win.
Iowa State beat a pretty good Iowa team early in the year. Granted, this was a home game for ISU against their in-state rival, but it just goes to show they are dangerous and not to be overlooked. The Cyclones are young, scrappy, and capable of punching above their weight class. Coming off of a huge win last week, it will be easy for the Red Raiders to still be feeling a little hung over. The coaches indicated early in the week they needed the team to keep their focus in practice. There is not a "gimme" left on our schedule. Texas Tech needs to stay focused. See Rangers in game 6 and 3 blown opportunities to win the series (as I write this, they are down 2-3 in the 5th...grrrr).
The Cyclones have been about a 50/50 run-pass team; however, with Barnett at QB I expect them to run early to help him settle in (he is 19/44 passing on the season) and to try and control the clock. The two leading rushers for the Cyclones, James White and Shonrtelle Johnson, are both sophomores, and both are averaging close to 5 ypc. Look for ISU to test the Tech defensive front. If they have success early, this could hurt later in the game.
For Texas Tech, this is a week to try and get guys that have been injured back in the game and up to speed. We will need them going into the rest of the season. The thing that worries me about this is they could come out cold and flat, letting ISU stick around too long. In the game against KSU, we saw what a series of mistakes can do, and here in the 6th inning I am watching it again.
Key #1: Avoid the let down
This one is obvious, but must be stated. After last week, teams are looking out for us. As a ranked team, a win over Tech is a quality win. To a team trying to avoid the basement and find some way into a bowl following 4 straight losses, it is a must win. Last week, the guys were playing on adrenaline. This week, they need to settle down, act like they've been here before, and take care of business.
Key #2: Stop the run early
Barnett has struggled in limited time. He may be the QB of the future for Iowa State, but I have a feeling they will ease him into the role. That means run a lot. Stopping the run and getting the defense off the field is key. Successfully stopping the run and forcing the Cyclones to beat Tech through the air would be huge. ISU is giving up almost 3 sacks a game. This could be a field day for Scott Smith.
Key #3: Establish the ground game
What? Did I just type that? Yes I did. Iowa State is giving up more yards rushing than even Tech (though slightly fewer ypc). Force them to commit to stop us up front, and Doege will be able to pick the clean. I would love to see some play action work.
7th inning. TIme for a rally.