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Preview: Iowa State Cyclones v. Texas Tech Red Raiders

v.
The Iowa State Cyclones (1-4, 0-1) v. The Texas Tech Red Raiders (4-1, 0-1)
October 6, 2007 @ 6:00 p.m.
Television:
None
Radio:
Texas Tech Affiliates
Gamecast:
CSTV
ESPN
Fox Sports
Weather:
Lubbock, Texas

Division I Football Statistics:

Statistic Texas Tech Iowa State
Rushing Offense 86.80 142.00
Passing Offense 523.60 221.40
Total Offense 610.40 363.40
Scoring Offense 54.60 18.80
Rushing Defense 162.00 138.40
Pass Defense 174.40 179.40
Passing Efficiency Defense 110.78 134.70
Total Defense 348.00 317.80
Scoring Defense 24.00 26.20

WHEN TEXAS TECH HAS THE BALL:

Statistical Leaders Texas Tech
Passing Graham Harrell:
192 Comp., 267 Att., 2,301 Yds., 24 TD, 2 Int.
Rushing Shannon Woods:
43 Att., 271 Yds., 7 TD
Receiving Michael Crabtree:
60 Rec., 920 Yds., 14 TD
Statistical Leaders Iowa State
Tackles Alvin Bowen: 39
Sacks Kurtis Taylor: 3.0
Interceptions Chris Singleton: 2
  • Texas Tech Passing Offense v. Iowa State Passing Defense:

    Sidebar: Is there a team where Texas Tech won't have a distinct advantage in the passing game?

    Back to Iowa State, statistically speaking, they haven't given up a ton of yards through the air and they've been decent, 24th in the nation, in pass defense. Not bad. The problem here has been in the stature of the opponent. Given that ISU played Kent, Northern Iowa, Iowa, Toledo and Nebraska means that most of those teams are quite a bit inferior, or in theory they should be, Iowa has been woeful on offense and Nebraska struggled after hanging on against Ball State. Give the Cyclones credit, they've held every team they've played under 200 yards passing, except Nebraska.

    I still can't imagine that after losing to NI, Kent and Toledo that it would mean that ISU would have played a team that's as capable as Texas Tech passing the ball (and checking the stats, they're not). Not to mention, there's not a receiver on this planet that can compare to what Michael Crabtree is currently doing.

    As far as who leads the Iowa State pass defense and without delving into an ISU depth-chart, it appears that Jessie Smith, Allen Bell and Chris Singleton are the leading tacklers in the defensive backfield. ISU is only 61st in the nation in sacks at 1.80 and defensive lineman Kurtis Taylor is leading the way.

    Where does this Texas Tech passing offense stand today? That's easy, right now our Red Raiders are atop the NCAA in passing. Harrell's done an outstanding job of getting the ball to a number of receivers, spreading the wealth. I'd still like to see that 3rd and 4th receiving threat be a little more consistent, but I'm beginning to realize that maybe that's not as important as I initially thought. Someone, whether it's Britton, Morris, Walker, Reed, etc. shows up for every game. I'm not as worried about that as I was earlier in the year.

    The offensive line received tremendous news earlier in the week when we found out that Brandon Carter would start at right guard, and that's excellent news. The offensive line has been nearly flawless, although there were reports that the line did have problems last week against NW State's quicker defensive linemen. I'm hoping that Coach Moore is making adjustments, just in case Chizik was something that he can take advangage.

    Advantage: Texas Tech


  • Texas Tech Rushing Offense v. Iowa State Rushing Defense: Before I started my work for this preview, I thought I was concerned about the run this year. For whatever reason I thought that the runs just wasn't as effective as in years past. Last year, Texas Tech averaged 4.71 yards per carry, this year, it's a meager 3.88. So what's the problem? I'm not sure. Perhaps it's having a relatively young and inexperienced offensive line that may be very good at pass blocking, but not quite as adept at run blocking. The other interesting note, the 2007 edition is averaging 86.80 while the 2006 squad averaged only 79.31. So this group is slightly more effective, but much less efficient.

    ISU is 50th in the nation in rushing defense, but where most teams run to set up the pass, Texas Tech passes to set up another pass, and another pass, and possibly another pass. The run for Texas Tech typically is used sparingly, and was used more last week due to the lopsided result and probably needing to run out the clock.

    As it should be, most of the ISU linebackers lead the team in tackles: Alvin Bowen, Jon Banks and Jessie Smith. The leading defensive front for Iowa State are Kurtis Taylor and Ahtypa Rubin, as well as Bryce Braaksma. The problem with ISU attempting to stop the Red Raider rushing attack is that I'm not sure that I'll expect a real rushing attack on Saturday. Despite my feelings that there won't be much need for a rushing attack, I still think that Woods & Co. will get what they typically need to keep the defenses honest. One final note, Woods already has 7 rushing touchdowns this year, which means that he's on more of a Taurean Henderson pace rather than last year's 10 rushing touchdown performance.

    Bottom line, I think the running game is just effective enough to be efficient.

    Advantage: Texas Tech

WHEN IOWA STATE HAS THE BALL:

Statistical Leaders Iowa State
Passing Bret Meyer:
112 Comp., 179 Att., 1,092 Yds., 4 TD, 8 Int.
Rushing J.J. Bass:
96 Att., 404 Yds., 4 TD
Receiving Todd Blythe:
24 Rec., 291 Yds., 2 TD
Statistical Leaders Texas Tech
Tackles Paul Williams: 34
Sacks Brandon Williams: 2.0
Interceptions Jamar Wall: 2
  • Iowa State Passing Offense v. Texas Tech Passing Defense: This is where Texas Tech gets tested. Not necessarily this game, but Meyer is a quarterback who is more than capable of being an effective player. Meyer's biggest problem this year is turnovers. This rings true as Meyer is a fairly productive player, in fact he ranks 34th in the country in total offense, but is 86th in passing efficiency, 8 interceptions to only 4 touchdowns. That's what's killing this offense, that and a lack of efficiently scoring through the air. Meyer has a whopping 44.75 touchdowns per attempts (compare with Harrell's 11.12), which means that Meyer just isn't throwing many touchdowns.

    Todd Blythe is one of those tall, lanky receivers who really showed something early in his career, but has dropped off in production. Although this year, he's had a bit of a resurgence in that he has 24 catches for 291 yards and 2 touchdowns and R.J. Sumrall has 28 catches for 277 yards.

    Despite the improvement last week against NW St., I'm still quite nervous about thinking this defense is going to make huge improvements throughout the year. My heart tells me to believe in them, but my head is telling me otherwise.

    It doesn't help that Garcia didn't play last week, but I still like the talent and I like the depth in the defensive backfield. From a numbers perspective, the pass defense is ranked 32nd in the nation and the pass efficiency defense is ranked 34th in the nation. That's not bad, almost acceptable.

    Not to mention, the Red Raiders are tied for 38th in the nation in sacks, which means that Texas Tech has put some sort of pressure on the opposing offenses.

    Advantage: Texas Tech


  • Iowa State Rushing Offense v. Texas Tech Rushing Defense: This is where I get nervous. Texas Tech was able to let OSU's Zac Robinson look like a Eric Crouch and I think that Meyer has, at the very least, similar type of talent. Meyer has rushed for 195 yards this year, and I'm afraid that if the same type of holes open up as they did against OSU, it could be an incredibly frustrating game.

    Thus, the key for me this week is stopping the run. At all costs, do not let running back J.J. Bass and Meyer get going. This will have to be a collective effort, from the defensive line to the linebackers. This also means that the offensive line cannot be allowed to create running lanes for quarterbacks or running backs alike. Contain these guys and we'll be fine.

    And could there be a better opportunity for this defense to make a statement? The entire unit has been doubted all season long and much has been made that there's no reason discussing Texas Tech until the defensive unit makes a stand. Why not now, why not on Saturday against Iowa State. The Cyclones aren't necessarily adept at rushing the ball, 69th in the nation, so this is where you do it.

    However, I've got to see something, so as much as I'd like to pick the Red Raiders here, I want to see production.

    Advantage: Iowa State

PREDICTION: Iowa State 17, Texas Tech 42.