First glance: Cyclones see big, physical Iowa team

It always starts this way early in the week, even ISU-Iowa week

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March 28, 2014 | 8:13 pm

AMES -- The general impression of the Hawkeyes is giant, physical killing machine.

Now, keep in mind, this was Monday. This is the time of the week where Iowa State and Iowa are sort of starting to get to know each other. The players have peaked at some video. Everyone is working on general impressions and maybe what they've seen on TV.

This is the time of the week where both teams are great. The truth, of course, comes out 5 p.m. Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.

"I remember a year ago watching that offensive line and knowing what the future held for them," Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said Monday, "and how strong and powerful they were going to be, and he [running back Mark Weisman] benefits from that."

The Cyclones (0-1) had last week off after losing their opener to Northern Iowa, 28-20, at Jack Trice. UNI averaged 6.91 yards on 33 carries against ISU. This prompted two changes on the defensive depth chart. Iowa (1-1) averages 4.93 yards a carry while splitting games against Northern Illinois (a 30-27 loss to the defending Mid-American Conference champions) and Missouri State (FCS school and member of the Missouri Valley Conference).

So, yes, at first glance, you look at Iowa State's front seven against Iowa's running game, led by the 6-0, 238-pound Weisman, and wonder how that's going to go.

"He's a physical ballplayer," ISU strong safety Deon Broomfield said. "For his size, he runs pretty well. He runs low, he's going to be a tough person to tackle. If we tackle the way we did against UNI, they're going to run the score up on us."

Conversely, Iowa State averaged 3.82 yards on 44 carries against the Panthers. Quarterback Sam Richardson spent last week in a walking boot because of a right ankle sprain and practiced lightly. He was sacked six times for 36 yards. Take the sacks out, and Richardson had 110 yards rushing.

Iowa has one sack this season. ISU will have a new center with Jamison Laik sliding from guard to replace Tom Farniok, who suffered a sprained knee against UNI. So, you kind of wonder how that's going to go.

ISU running back Jeff Woody watched three quarters of Northern Illinois and had the Missouri State game cued up for a Monday afternoon review. His thoughts on Iowa's front seven sounded like the thoughts of someone who knows how to study (Woody has been academic all-Big 12 the last two years).

"They're big and physical," Woody said. "Their linebackers are incredibly smart. [Christian] Kirksey is in his own kind of breed, No. 20. He runs around really well, a true outside linebacker type.

"[James] Morris and [Anthony] Hitchens, No. 44 and 31, respectively, they play a lot like our two guys last year did. Very smart, very physical and very athletic. They're not going to do anything to compromise themselves.

"You may not see them in the entire game and go, 'Man, that's a great play.' But you're not going to say, 'What's that guy doing?'"

The names and numbers are starting to matchup and it's only Monday.

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