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What We Think We Know | Iowa St. Cyclones

Stats Schedule
OFFENSE 9/4 N. Illinois | W | 27-10
Rushing | 126 (84/10) 9/11 @ Iowa | L | 7-35
Passing | 169.25 (97/10) 9/18 @ Kansas St. | L | 20-27
Total | 295.25 (106/12) 9/25 UNI | W | 27-0
Scoring | 20.25 (99/12) 10/2 Texas Tech
10/9 Utah
DEFENSE 10/16 @ Oklahoma
Rushing | 209.75 (108/12) 10/23 @ Texas
Passing | 143.75 (10/4) 10/30 Kansas
Total | 353.50 (63/9) 11/6 Nebraska
Scoring | 18.00 (33/5) 11/13 @ Colorado
TO Margin | 0.50 (33/5) 11/20 Missouri

WHAT WE KNOW | Two wins and two losses for the Cyclones. ISU has won their two home games, by similar scores, against Northern Illinois (27-10) and University of Northern Iowa (27-0). But then they've lost their two road games (I know that the K-State game was at a neutral site, but it wasn't at home), losing to Iowa (7-35) and Kansas St. (20-27). The Cyclones are struggling on offense, ranking 84th in rushing offense and 97th in passing offense. One of their best two offensive players, QB Austen Arnad was injured the first play of last week's game with UNI of the game. Even then, ISU is only averaging a little less than 300 yards a game and just a tick above 20 points a game. If there's one place that ISU is struggling , it's offensively.

What you can say about ISU is that they're okay defensively. Not terrible and not great either. Statistically, they're playing great pass defense . . . but . . . the four opponents aren't the best passing offenses: N. Illionis (108th in pass offense); Iowa (32nd); Kansas St. (100th); and UNI (45th in the FCS). So two of their four opponents aren't really passing the ball and ISU's game against Iowa, the Hawkeyes ran the ball for 275 yards. There probably wasn't a huge need to pass the ball.

And the ISU schedule really doesn't get much easier. Take a look at that schedule, having to travel to Norman and Austin on back-to-back weeks just doesn't seem fair.

The one thing that I do know is that I have a lot of respect for Iowa St. head coach Paul Rhoads, who actually led ISU to a bowl game last year beating Minnesota (I don't think you fake this sort of emotion in last year's win against Nebraska). For those fans that may not think that there's much to a bowl game, for some programs it is a big deal and it helps turn the tide of a program. I've always thought that a big part of the battle for a program is that you need a head coach to be comfortable where he's at, and I think that Rhoads is comfortable in Ames. Now it's just a matter of giving the guy enough time to get it together and put together a good program, building from the bottom up. I hope Cyclone fans are patient because I think they have a good coach.

More good strong after the jump.

WHAT WE CAN EXPECT | Ask any Texas Longhorn fan if they really thought they would ever lose to UCLA in the manner that they did. Then remind yourself that it can happen in just about any game at any time, especially with a Texas Tech offense that is relatively suspect and a defense that everyone thought was playing just fine, might be getting a real test from Iowa St. on the ground. I really think that RB Alexander Robinson is a pretty darned good running back for Iowa St., but he's only getting the ball an average of 16 times game, for a little bit over 75 yards a game. Robinson is also averaging an acceptable 4.70 yards per game. Honestly, I can't say that I've seen enough Iowa St. football to properly diagnose why Robinson may be left out a bit, but it's not because there's a second or third running back eating a bunch of carries. If anything, it's Arnaud using his legs as a dual threat option.

Iowa St. Week
MONDAY Five Questions
Art of Polls - BlogPoll
TUESDAY What We Think We Know
WEDNESDAY Keys to the Game
THURSDAY Reasons for Concern and Optimism
FRIDAY Prediction Time

PLAYERS I THINK YOU SHOULD WATCH | Since it was announced earlier yesterday that QB Austen Arnaud would be getting the start this weekend, I think he's the most important player on ISU's team. Arnaud is a dual-thread quarterback, who has rushed 36 times for 104 yards, and completed 57.7% of his passes with 2 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Arnaud is not a down-the-field passer, averaging only 5.41 yards per attempt. If you're DC James Willis, how do you play Arnaud and the passing game? Do you play off the receivers with a pretty good idea Arnaud won't beat you deep or do you press the receivers?

I mentioned Robinson as a player to watch and still can't figure out why he's not getting many carries. Robinson is a good sized running back and he can get outside and out-run the defense. He's also not afraid to run inside as well. I'm sure that it wouldn't surprise you if I told you that the leading receiver for Iowa St. is TE Collin Franklin, who has caught 15 passes for 152 yards. Robinson has caught 12 passes as has receivers Darius Darks and Sedrick Johnson. There's really not a dominating receiving threat here, although I'm keenly interested to see how Willis will cover Franklin, not an overly athletic tight end, but a solid player.

Defensively, S David Sims is probably this team's best senior prospect and he's currently got 21 tackles, which is good for third on the team. National Football Post's West Bunting has a scouting report on Sims:

A thick, well-put-together safety who exhibits good balance and natural power when asked to break down and tackle. Is a really effective open field striker who consistently takes good angles toward the ball, generates impressive power into contact and is really able to snap his hips through the ball carrier. Also, showcases good discipline when asked to wrap up in one-on-one situations, as well, and is just a really sound tackler in all areas of the game.

Linebackers A.J. Kelin and Jake Knott, both sophomores, are making a majority of the plays for the Cyclones. Klein has 41 tackles, 3 TFL, and 2 interceptions. Knott has notched 35 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 forced fumbles and 3 interceptions. These two appear to be the best playmakers for the Cyclones.