Thank you to our sister site with SB Nation, Wide Right & Natty Lite, for taking the time to answer a few questions and give us their perspective on Texas Tech vs. Iowa State. Here’s what they had to say...
Q: I liked Paul Rhoads a lot and thought Iowa State made a mistake by firing him – until they hired Matt Campbell, who I think is a great coach. That wasn’t a question. But here’s one: with year one of the Matt Campbell era coming to a close, what is Cyclone Nation thinking about him?
A: Only having two wins at this point is slightly disappointing (we all figured they'd beat UNI to open the season), but beyond that, I think the majority of our fan base can see obvious improvements being made on the field and are happy with what Campbell has done to build toward the future. There's a lot of young players making an impact, especially on offense, and with another nice recruiting class set to come in, there's legitimate reasons to get excited about Iowa State football
Rational fans knew it'd be a stretch to contend for a bowl game in year one. This season was always going to be a tough-go after off-season attrition and getting everyone used to a new system and program culture. Now that the players have been through a full year with Campbell in town, we will hopefully see a big step forward between year one and year two.
Q: What’s Iowa State’s quarterback situation going to be on Saturday and moving forward?
A: Jacob Park will likely be the #1 QB on every play except obvious running situations. For those, Joel Lanning comes in and does his best "Belldozer" impression like Oklahoma did a few years back. Park has been more accurate with his throws (despite both quarterbacks having eerily similar stat-lines on the season) and is a Campbell guy, which has helped him wrestle the main quarterbacking duties away from Lanning as the year has gone on. Plus, with one more season of eligibility remaining than Lanning, grooming Park to be "the guy" will hopefully pay off down the road with consistency.
Q: How has Iowa State been able to stay in some really close games with good opponents (i.e. Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State)?
A: I credit that mostly to the coaching staff. Have they been perfect on their play calling and scheming all year long? Absolutely not. But it seems like they are making a ton of wise decisions that the previous regime failed to make. I have a few examples to help illustrate this point...
First: managing the quarterback position well. As mentioned above, the staff seems to have settled into a game plan that works for the QBs, playing to each of their strengths. The Rhoads staff likely would have went all-in on one or the other.
Second: moving Jhaustin Thomas to the interior of the D-line. Thomas started the year at defensive end, but when ISU kept getting gashed on the ground, the coaching staff decided to move his big 6-foot-6, 265-pound frame inside to help out. Ever since that move, running up the gut has become tougher to do against our defense (even though they still give up their fair share of yards via the run).
Third: Not being afraid to play their most talented players. You'd figure with a 2015 season like Mike Warren had, he'd be the obvious bell cow for the Cyclones at running back, right? Wrong. David Montgomery has apparently shined at practice and has overcome Warren due to his work ethic and talent. How much an ankle injury for Warren has factored into that decision is up for debate, but Montgomery has looked great and could end up being a major four-year contributor for the ISU backfield.
Q: Lazard is obvious, but who else should the Texas Tech defense be worried about on Saturday?
A: True freshman wide receiver Deshaunte Jones. Jones' coming-out party was against San Jose State when he caught 2 TD passes, one of which went for 49 yards. He's now up to 6 receiving touchdowns on the season (tied with Lazard for the team's most) and is actually averaging more yards per reception (13.6) than Lazard (13.4) now, though Lazard has caught twice as many balls. Despite a few statistical similarities, both players' styles are different. Lazard is more of a possession receiver, while Jones is a shifty, run-after-catch kind of guy. The juke Jones put on a Kansas defender for a TD last week was a shining example of what teams can expect from him for the next 3+ years
Q: What does Iowa State need to do on defense to have their best chance at stopping Mahomes and the Red Raider passing attack?
But in reality, Iowa State's defense is better at defending the pass than they are at stopping the run. It'll be a match-up of strength vs. strength. However, I have little hope that our defense will actually be able to handle Mahomes and co. An interception or two would go a long way on Saturday.
Q: What kind of game will we see and what’s your final score prediction?
A: As with nearly all games Tech has been in this season, I expect it to be a high-scoring affair. I'm curious to see if our offensive staff decides they want to slow things down and take the air out of the ball, or try to keep up with the Red Raiders. My guess is there will be a lot of points regardless.
I'll say 59-35, Texas Tech.
NOT SO SERIOUS QUESTIONS
Q: Y’all don’t actually drink Natty, right? Please tell me y’all don’t actually drink Natty.
A: I mean, if it's the only beer available, we won't turn it down. But no, we're not Natty enthusiasts by any means. We actually have more than a few craft beer fanatics on our staff.
You're aware of how our blog's name came about, right? Wide Right = numerous important missed field goals in the Dan McCarney era, most notably one from the foot of Bret Culbertson that sailed wide right that would have given ISU the Big 12 North title back in 2004. Natty Lite = Larry Eustachy's beer of choice when he got caught partying with Missouri co-eds after a Big 12 road game.
So yes, our blog is basically named after two of the most painful memories of being an Iowa State fan. We're masochists.
Q: What’s Ames like?
A: It's great. But you know what... Why should I have to explain why when there's already such an incredible video out there that can do it for me?
Q: Iowa State has awesome nicknames for their rivalry games against Iowa and Kansas State – the CyHawk Trophy and Farmageddon, respectively. Texas Tech is also a rural school with a prominent local farming industry, so what should we nickname this matchup?
A: This is a good question... I propose either the Hoibury or the Kingsberg trophy. Sure, Fred Hoiberg is coaching the Bulls now, but Iowa State produced one of the dreamiest coaches in basketball and Texas Tech produced one of the dreamiest coaches in football. It's only right if we memorialize that with a trophy dedicated in their honor.
A: The 5% chance of actually happening is forcing me to tone this down a bit. But, I'll go with a reverse-pass thrown by Deshaunte Jones (he played quarterback in high school) to Jacob Park for a TD. This actually happened once earlier this season against Kansas State, but not for a TD.
I could also see this happening for Texas Tech as well, with the pass being thrown to Mahomes for a TD. Likely from Cameron Batson, based on him being down for one pass of his own on the stat sheet.
Q: Who will have more wins in 2017 – Kansas football or Iowa State baseball?
A: Another tough question. I see that Kansas has to play powerhouses Southeast Missouri, Central Michigan (winners* against Oklahoma State this season), and Ohio in their non-conference slate.
I don't see any teams who are that strong on Iowa State baseball's schedule. Advantage: Cyclone baseball.