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DTN's Q & A with Clone Chronicles | Previewing the Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. the Iowa St. Cyclones

Much thanks to Paul Conrad over at Clone Chonicles, who graciously answered a few questions with DTN.  I've also answered some questions with Paul and when I get the link, I'll post a FanShot or update this post.  Thanks again to Paul for the time and the insight.  [Note by Seth C, 09/30/10 12:06 PM CDT ]  UPDATE:  Check out my answers to Paul's questions on Clone Chronicles.

I've been very much impressed with your head coach and I tend to think that he's the right person for the job in Ames, but generally speaking, how does the fanbase feel about Iowa St.'s head coach Paul Rhoads and are fans willing to stick with him for the foreseeable future?

I can honestly say that I believe Paul Rhoads was the best coaching hire possible by Jamie Pollard, the ISU Athletic Director. I don't say he's the best coach in college football by any stretch of the imagination, but he IS a man that believes in Iowa State, grew up ten miles from Jack Trice Stadium, has a father who's respected on a state-wide level as a high school football coach, and genuinely loves Iowa and Iowans. What this tells me is that he's willing to stay for the long haul, to reform the program in his image and won't bolt for a better school at the first opportunity. I think the fan base in general is basking in the hope, promise and pride that Coach Rhoads brings to the program. Everyone was buzzing with the "name" hire of Gene Chizik and we all know how that worked out. I also know that Coach Rhoads respects and is respected by Coach Tuberville of Texas Tech. I don't think there's any "inside gameplans" for the upcoming game, but I do know that it will add some extra spice to the game. To answer your last question, I expect the ISU fan base will stick by Paul Rhoads through at least two losing seasons before getting in an uproar. He's given us a taste of winning, though, and we expect him to continue to do so. I think he will, as he's been extraordinary in recruiting since walking in the door two December's ago. I've been impressed with the breadth of his recruiting, the 2010 recruiting class for Iowa State had players from Texas, Southern California, and Florida, in addition to local recruits. They may not have been the best players out there, but that we're getting traction in such places gives me a lot of hope for the future.

Iowa St. Week
MONDAY Five Questions
Art of Polls - BlogPoll
TUESDAY What We Think We Know
WEDNESDAY Keys to the Game
THURSDAY Q&A with Clone Chronicles
FRIDAY Prediction Time

Offensively, talk about what we can expect and a couple of players that Texas Tech fans should watch.

Offensively, Iowa State runs the spread offense. Which is as much a lie as it is the truth. The truth of the matter is that we're better at running the ball than we are at throwing it. Of our two Quarterbacks, Austen Arnaud is a leader and more of a thrower than Jerome Tiller is. Tiller is more of a manager than a leader, he won't impress you with his play, but he makes very few mistakes. Offensively, you'll want to pay attention to Colin Franklin #88, our tight end. He's the leading receiver on the team and is a monster at 6'5" and 252 lbs. He's also got good hands and good feet. He'll get above the defensive backs to pluck balls out of the air and get back on the ground inbounds and past the 1st down line. He's the best 3rd down receiver I've seen at Iowa State in a long time. Not surprisingly, the other person to pay attention to is the running back position. I say that because Alexander Robinson and Jeff Woody together are making a good team. They're completely different backs and Tom Herman has been intelligently using them as a 1-2 punch against defenses. Robinson is a small, fast back who has the ability to change direction without warning, as a long time Detroit Lions fan, he reminds me strongly of the manner in which Barry Sanders used to run. Woody is your quintessential workhorse back, he's bigger and more powerful than Robinson and would rather run THROUGH people than around them. Woody is also a walk-on player who was awarded a scholarship this fall.

More after the jump.

Defensively, the Cyclones have had problems stopping their opponents running games.  Texas Tech isn't known for their ability to run the ball.  Is a non-running team a welcome sight and is Iowa St. equipped to stopping the spread offense?

Defensively, the Cyclones have been maturing at a rapid pace. The unit as a whole is extremely young and dangerously shallow. That isn't to say they aren't talented, because they are, what they really need, and what they're getting is experience. It's proving invaluable too, the defense as a whole last Saturday facing UNI was outstanding. They may have given up 321 yards, but they allowed 0 points to be scored, intercepted 3 passes (two of which were returned for TD's), recovered two fumbles (one of which in the end-zone for a touch-back), blocked a field goal, and played a ferocious pass defense. Jake Knott was selected as the Big 12 Defensive player of the week this week and AJ Klein, his companion linebacker returned an INT for a touch down and has the 2nd most tackles in the Big 12. The secondary is also very good, David Sims was the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2010, and Jeremy Reeves, Leonard Johnson and Zac Sandvig are all outstanding defensive backs. In my mind one of the big questions for this Saturday is just how good the defensive backfield really is, Tech is a passing team, if you guys can pass with impunity, ISU loses, no question. We still have some residual weaknesses in the front 4, and the lack of an effective pass rush may be one of the most damning aspects of our defense come Saturday evening in Ames.

The schedule doesn't get much easier for Iowa St., with games against Utah and then traveling to Texas and Oklahoma, talk a bit about what this game means to Iowa St. in this tough 4-game stretch.

Whoever thought a team should play Oklahoma and Texas back to back on the road should be shot. Period. That the ISU Athletic Department let it happen shows how little political power ISU has in the Big 12. All that said, you're right, the Schedule is this years biggest and nastiest opponent for ISU. On the other hand, the Big 12 is going to a 9 game round robin schedule, either we can beat Texas and Oklahoma or we can't, that's the truth of the future and it's a little scary. No offense to Texas Tech, but ISU has to look at this game as one of the more "winnable" games on the schedule. It's a home game, and you're in the middle of a coaching change. While I think it's a long shot for ISU to win, I don't anticipate Tech blowing us out. The Cyclones are a bit on the scrappy side for that to happen, and frankly the Tech offense hasn't been as prolific as it was in recent memory. Score 24 on us, though, and you'll win. =/

If you had to game-plan for Saturday's game, list a couple of things that you try to do both offensively and defensively for Iowa St. to win this game.

For Saturday, if I were DC Wally Burnham, I'd concentrate on forcing Tech to run the ball. Keep 6 or 7 players back in coverage, keep defensive backs between the Tech receivers and the end zone and not give up any big plays, then use the end-zone to shorten the need for defensive depth. Then pray to God we get lucky and nab a few interceptions. Offensively, I would probably use the running game early on to try and get Tech to stack 8 or 9 players in the box, then open up the passing playbook and switch it up as much as possible while going up-tempo to keep the Tech defense on its heels. Keys for ISU on Saturday are:

    * Limit Penalties
    * Bend but don't break on Defense, allow yardage but keep Tech's point total down
    * Don't turn over the ball, even if that means reducing the effectiveness of the offense by keeping it on the ground

I think this game is going to be closer than Tech fans would hope, but will ultimately be decided by the level of play of ISU which is much more inconsistent than I perceive Texas Tech to be.

Thanks to Paul one more time and check out Clone Chronicles for all your news on the Iowa St. Cyclones.