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The Huddle: Iowa State Cyclones vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders

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The Texas Tech Red Raiders head to Ames to take on the Iowa State Cyclones, with both teams looking to break multiple game losing streaks. We've got keys to the game, ISU players to watch, links and video.

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Game Details:

Who:Iowa State vs.Texas Tech
When: November 22nd @ 2:30 pm
Where: Jack Trice Stadium | Ames, IA
Watch: Fox Sports Net
Key Injuries: Jordan Davis, JahShawn Johnson, Keland McElrath, Chris Payne, Donte Phillips

When It Doesn't Work. This is hypothetical because I don't think the story isn't even close to being finished, but Paul Rhoads is Iowa State's version of Kliff Kingsbury. In fact, you might say that they invented the model to hire alums or darn near alums (Rhoads actually attended Missouri Western) and Rhoads is from Iowa, growing up in Ames.

Iowa State has had a ton of success with Fred Hoiberg an alum who has done wonders with Iowa State, has been courted by NBA teams, and remained in Ames and will have his career start and finish there if he could probably have his way. That has worked out wonderfully and there's got to be almost zero regret about Hoiberg, but what about Rhoads?

Overall, Rhoads is 29-43 at Iowa State and is coming off of a 3-9 season in 2013 and a 2-7 season thus far. Rhoads started off incredibly strong, going 7-6 his first and hovering around that .500 yard for three seasons afterwards. But he's taken a dip he last two years and Rhoads signed a 10 year contract worth $20 million in 2011. Things are obviously not trending in the right direction, but Rhoads is beloved by just about everyone (except for Hawkeye fans probably) and does the fact that he's a native son of Iowa mean that he has a longer leash than most would.

We, as Texas Tech fans, don't like to think about what-ifs, especially me, but does Iowa State ever look back and think that they gave too much way too early. And truthfully, Rhoads had seemingly proved himself, as far as I'm concerned, with his first four seasons. Fans are a finicky bunch and they don't like losing, especially not like this.

I feel like I'm constantly guarding against giving Kingsbury too much of the benefit of the doubt. I know that I'm guilty of believing when there's only been so much that we can point to, on the field, that says that Kingsbury was absolutely the right move for Texas Tech. I'm sure that Iowa State fans have told themselves more than once that they have a hard-working coach, who never sleeps, who eats and breathes Iowa State football, and he won't stop until he's got the Cyclones on the winning track. We've all said the same thing about Kingsbury.

And don't take any of this for disbelief. Rhoads is one of my favorite coaches and probably one of the more genuine coaches that you'll find coaching college football. I'd send my kid (if he plays football) to play for him because he seems as honest as the day is long. But coaches are judged by W's and L's.

Because I am running behind, we'll get to today's links and notes here in The Huddle.

Advice, Advice, Advice. DMN's Kevin Sherrington writes about Texas Tech and he has advice for Kliff Kingbury.  The first bit of advice is to not make any national headlines for the wrong reasons, i.e. quarterbacks transferring.  This seems like an impossibility considering a coach can't control if players want to transfer, but whatever.  Sherrington also suggests that Kingsbury shouldn't throw players under the bus by saying that they tapped out during a 50 point loss because of Travis Haney's comment that Kingsbury is a "cool dad" type of coach, and players don't respond to tough talk?  I don't know, this doesn't make any sense to me and I've never thought that Kingsbury is trying to be a particular thing and it seems ridiculous to worry about the egos of a player that he thinks has given up.  And Sherrington's last bit of advice is to not make the statements about a defensive coordinator passing around your signals.  It's funny, it was Don Williams that asked about why Smith had towels around giving out signals and Kingsbury answered honestly, but he didn't mention and hasn't mentioned Wallerstedt by name.

I'm a bit torn on whether or not Kingsbury and Mike Smith should have said anything.  On one hand, they could have just let it go and not cause a stink.  On the other hand, by actually saying something, they called out a former colleague that was actively trying to sabotage your team and season and you made it clear the type of person that Wallerstedt actually (allegedly) is.

I've added a poll question, for your two cents.

Rhoads Frustrated. The Quad-City Times writes about how Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads is frustrated by the season the team has had:

"I'm frustrated, too," he said. "So is everybody in this building. There's a core group of Cyclone fans that, not just now, but always have been as loyal as anybody in the country.

"And, there's a group that will show that frustration by their lack of attendance. I understand that. They want a winner, and they want to support a winner. I want to give them one and end that frustration for all of us."

Change in Focus. LAJ's Don Williams writes that the focus changes as this is the last two games of the season, and the primary focus will be at defensive coordinator and who will be calling the defense moving forward:

Kingsbury said he'll have plenty of time to evaluate the position in December with no bowl game preparation, but he won't want to take too long.

"I'm sure very soon after the season we'll try to get it sorted out," Kingsbury said, "because you have recruiting (visits) coming up in January. But I don't have a timetable right now."

Tech's continued to struggle defensively the last seven games, much as the Red Raiders did in Wallerstedt's 16-game tenure. It's uncertain to what extent that will work against Smith.

"I knew the tough situation he was thrust into," Kingsbury said, "and I wanted him to know it's just about doing your best with what we've got and where you're at. He's done a great job of stepping up his leadership role and getting those kids to play hard. He's done the best job he can."

So yes, I'd love to put the defensive coordinator situation to be as soon as possible after the season ends.  I love what Mike Smith is and does, but I do want Kingsbury to see if there is someone out there that has more experience that could help.  Heck, I'd even be good with hiring an older linebacker coach that is a former defensive coordinator and making sure that everyone is pulling in the same direction here. I don't know how comfortable or uncomfortable it would be for Smith to have to step down a bit after being the interim defensive coordinator. More than anything, I really want Smith to stay at Texas Tech

Miscellaneous. DMN's Tommy Magelssen has his predictions for the game and everything you need to know . . . our friends at Wide Right & Natty Lite have an excellent preview of today's game and they also have their weekly Big 12 games . . . congrats to the 11 student-athletes who were named to the Academic All-Big 12 team . . . Football Study Hallhas their weekly projections and it's all Iowa State all the time . . .

Uniform Tracker. Because at the heart of it all, VTM is a fashion blog.

Uniform Tracker
Opponent Helmet Jersey Pants Result Photo Photo Credit
Central Arkansas W, 42-35 Michael C. Johnson
UTEP W, 42-35 John Weast
Arkansas L, 49-28 John Weast
Oklahoma State ** L, 45-35 Brett Deering
Kansas State L, 45-13 Scott Sewell
West Virginia L, 37-34 John Weast
Kansas W, 34-21 Michael C. Johnson
TCU L, 82-27 Ronald Martinez
Texas*** L, 34-13 John Weast
Oklahoma**** L, 42-30 Michale C. Johnson

* Click photos to embiggen.
** The color intended to be depicted is ombré.
***Not exactly sure how to represent the tri-colored helmets of red white and blue and am going with blue as it was the most prominent color.
****Obvously, choosing that the jersey color is red is questionable at best, but someone has to make the tough decisions.

Quotes

Another week and another program that does not have any transcript of the press conference. On my end, it makes you appreciate what Texas Tech does. So, we’ll post Courtney Davis and Kliff Kingsbury with the two minute drill:

Stats

Stat
Total Offense 361.7 (97) 473.7 (22)
Rushing Offense 111.7 (113) 146.1 (85)
Passing Offense 250.0 (47) 327.6 (7)
Scoring Offense 24.4 (92) 28.6 (66)
Total Defense 495.0 (115) 503.6 (119)
Rushing Defense 244.6 (118) 259.4 (120)
Passing Defense 250.4 (96) 244.2 (92)
Scoring Defense 37.8 (115) 41.6 (123)
Turnover Margin -0.11 (73) -0.90 (113)
3rd Down % Off. 45.2% (29) 43.5% (44)
3rd Down % Def. 47.9% (118) 45.2% (106)
Yds/Play Def. 6.06 (99) 6.25 (108)

The best news is that Texas Tech does have a significantly better offense and I'm a bit surprised that Mark Mangino hasn't turned around the Iowa State offense more. As mentioned last week, I thought that Patrick Mahomes really moved the gaps between he and Davis Webb much closer and I don't think the offense will drop all that much. The most disturbing thing from the offensive side of the ball for Iowa State is the darn near complete inability to run the ball. That bodes well for Texas Tech's defense (maybe).

But oh, that Iowa State defense is as bad as the Texas Tech defense for the most part. This should be an offensive game (see what I did there?) and right now, I do like Texas Tech's ability to score much better.

The biggest surprise are those third downs for Iowa State, I never thought that they would be so good at third downs given a really rough season. Obviousy, there is a problem with that translating to the scoring aspect of what Iowa State is doing offensively.

Tweets

Name those guys.

Yo, check it out.

Do not forget, the soccer team is playing round two against Auburn at 2:00 pm today.

Five Things

1. Three Players to Watch on Offense for Iowa State.

1) QB Sam Richardson (6-2/225): The option is clearly Sam Richardson at quarterback, who is significantly better than Grant Rohach. Richardson has been really good and he's more dual-threat that you'd imagine. Richardson has thrown for nearly 2,000 yards, averages 6 yards an attempt and has 14 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions. On the ground, Richardson has run for 339 yards overall and is the Cyclones' second leading rusher.

2) WR Allen Lazard (6-5/215): Lazard is a fantastic receiver and as a true freshman, he's really exceeded expectations and has 39 receptions for 513 yards and 3 touchdowns. Really fantastic player and he's just going ot be better. For such a large receiver, he's got a nice yards per catch average of 13 per catch and Lazard has 57 yards a game receiving.

3) RB Aaron Wimberly (5-9/175): So, if you want something to watch, it's going to be the rushing game and if and when Iowa State takes advantage of Texas Tech's rushing defense. Wimbley only averages 11 carries a game and has only 390 yards on the year and at 4.38 yards a carry, I think he seems a bit underused.

2. Three Players to Watch on Defense for Iowa State.

1) LB Jevohn Miller (6-1/245): Miller leads the team in tackles and at this point, I'm a bit saddened that Luke Knott has not assumed that spot as a sophomore (I'm kidding). At 68 tackles, a fumble recover and return for a touchdown, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 passes broken up and 3 quarterback hurries, he's the most productive linebacker. Nevermind, he's out with a torn ACL, so I'll just type out Luke Knott a bunch:  Luke Knott Luke Knott Luke Knott Luke Knott Luke Knott Luke Knott Luke Knott Luke Knott Luke Knott Luke Knott Luke Knott .

2) DE Corey Morrissey (6-4/260): Morrissey is not fronting the Smith's, but he is Iowa State's most productive defensive lineman, with 39 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss and 5 sacks on the year. ISU is one of the worst at recording plays behidn the line of scrimmage and aside from Morrissey, there's just not a lot there.

3) CB Sam Richardson (5-7/190): There's two sam Richardson's for Iowa State and the cornerback is small in nature, but he's awfully productive. Richardson is Bruce Jones like in a way and he leads the team in interceptions at only 5'7", has 46 tackles, so he's not afraid to lay a hit, and has 5 passes broken up on the year.

3. Three Keys to the Game.

1) Slow Down Richardson: Granted, it is only two wins on the year, but when Iowa State wins, Richardson is throwing for 300 yards a game, while in those losses, the Cyclones are only throwing for 234. I know that Richardson hasn't played all year, I believe that Rohach played the last two games, but if Texas Tech can limit that Iowa State passing game, then I think I like the odds for Texas Tech. Iowa State isn't really prone to running the ball in wins or losses, averaging about 30 attempts a game either way, but if Richardson is able to take advantage of a soft pass defense, then that would pose a problem.

2) Keep Mahomes Going: It seems likely that Mahomes gets the start this week, it would be hard to sit him at this point, and as mentioned after the game, Mahomes needs to be better in the second half. Still, Mahomes needs to do exactly what he did last week, which is NOT turn the ball over. Mahomes got lucky on a few attempts so he has to be careful, but with Mahomes ability to run the ball if the Cyclones play soft, it should help loosen up that Cyclone defense a bit.

3) Utilize the Running Backs: As mentioned above, Iowa State has an almost as bad a rushing defense as Texas Tech and I'm pretty sure that I've written this over the course of the last few weeks, but nothing would make me happier than to see DeAndre Washington, Quinton White and Justin Stockton to punish an Iowa State defense in running the ball. I do understand the idea last week of Mahomes taking advantage of an Oklahoma pass defense that was pretty bad, but let's lean on those runners a bit. When Iowa State wins, they limit teams to 182 yards rushing and when Iowa State loses, it's 262. I know that Texas Tech won't get to the 262, but I think Texas Tech has to get close to that 182 yards.

4. Two Reasons Why Texas Tech Will Win.

1) The Numbers: The stats simply say that Texas Tech is a better football team, but it's not by much. Statistically, these two teams are pretty much the same team defensively. Both give up a ton of yards defensively, but Texas Tech has been, albeit not by much, to generate a better offense. My hopes are somewhat buyoued by the fact that Mahomes seemed to progress quite a bit in one game.

2) Rattle the Passer: The much improved pass rush has been on a two game hiatus and if it is going to return, it better start this week. Richardson isn't necessarily prone to making huge mistakes, he's only had 2 interceptions in two games, but Texas Tech can make it much tougher on Richardson when he does drop back to pass. Pete Robertson has been virtually silent for the past two weeks and he has to make a re-appearance if Texas Tech is going to disrupt the Iowa State offense.

5. Two Reasons Why Texas Tech Will Lose.

1) Rhoads Always Wins One: It is like clockwork in some ways, that Paul Rhoads wins a game that Iowa State normally shouldn't win. It happens almost every year and it hasn't happened so far. Texas Tech is just one game better, so this isn't as if anyone (i.e. me) is crowing about the disparity in records here, but Rhoads will win a game where Iowa State isn't favored at all. Iowa State still has West Virginia and TCU on the schedule, so maybe it will be one of them.

2) Second Half Swoon: It really doesn't matter who is at quarterback, although it's really tough to judge Pat Mahomes and Vincent Freaking Testaverde, Jr. in their respective second halves, but traditionally, Texas Tech has not been good enough in the second half, particularly the 4th quarter. The passing is down to it's lowest point in the 4th quarter, the pass defense is getting lit up in the second half by a wide margin. The third quarter for the rush offense is the only quarter that is below 300 yards and the rush defense is simply being pummelled in the second half.