Two-minute drill: Iowa State Cyclones (0-2) at Tulsa Golden Hurricane (1-2)
Iowa State Rush Offense vs. Tulsa Rush Defense
ISU has yet to find anything approaching a rhythm in the running game — as shown in the 59-yard performance against Iowa. But a healthy Sam Richardson triggering the zone-read could change that. James White, Shontrelle Johnson and Aaron Wimberly are all capable of 100-yard games. It’s just that Johnson’s the last one to have one — in last year’s season-opener against Tulsa. (Slight) Advantage: Tulsa.
Iowa State Pass Offense vs. Tulsa Pass Defense
While Richardson’s battled an ankle injury and groin issue, his arm’s been solid, if not always on target. ISU has produced five passing plays of 26 yards or more through two games. Justin Coleman and Quenton Bundrage each have 100-yard receiving games and Bundrage grabbed three touchdown passes in the second half of the Iowa loss. Tulsa’a averaging one interception per game. Advantage: Iowa State.
Tulsa Rush Offense vs. Iowa State Rush Defense
Trey Watts will touch the ball at least 20 times — and likely more if he’s able to gain any traction. The speedy senior is averaging 5.5 yards per carry, while read-option partner quarterback Cody Green’s running at 2.5 yards per tote. Green’s big and tough, though (6-4, 245). Bigger than bruising Iowa running back Mark Weisman (6-0, 236), who gained 145 yards against the Cyclones. Advantage: Tulsa
Tulsa Pass Offense vs. Iowa State Pass Defense
Green’s a better runner than thrower, as evidenced by his 52 percent completion rate and 3-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He has weapons on the outside, primarily in Jordan James and Derek Patterson, who have combined for three touchdown catches and average 16 yards per reception combined. ISU’s defense has yet to post an interception this season but had a pick six in the Liberty Bowl. Advantage: Iowa State
Kirby Van Der Kamp gives ISU a near-lock in terms of advantage in the punting game and Aaron Wimberly and Albert Gary’s 30-plus yard kick returns provide some juice in that regard. But Tulsa has Trey Watts back there. He’s already returned a punt 77 yards this season. He’s only averaging 22 yards per kick return but owns three career touchdown in the return game. Golden Hurricane kicker Carl Salazar has drilled five straight field goals. ISU kicker Cole Netten is 2-for-2 in his brief career. (Slight) Advantage: Tulsa
Sometimes, taking a young team on the road produces surprisingly good results. Rhoads has done the usual things to prep his players for the noise expected at H.A. Chapman Stadium, pumping in canned fan sounds via a CD and sound system booming across the practice field. Being booed can amp up determination, as well. “We’re all we have — the coaches, the players, whoever comes along with us,” linebacker Jeremiah George said. That said, Tulsa has won eight straight home games, so there’s an obvious comfort level in their 30,000-seat stadium. The Golden Hurricane are also used to winning, having compiled four 10- or 11-win seasons in the past six. They’re record of 56-27 over the last seven years is slightly worse that Stanford’s (56-24) and slightly better than Nebraska’s (56-29). (Slight) Advantage: Tulsa
Iowa State will win if … The running game finally gets on track with Richardson or Rohach at the controls and the defense goes from getting sounder to getting more productive. Another pick six of Cody Green (perhaps from cornerback Jansen Watson?) would be a huge help, as would more forced fumbles from safety Deon Broomfield and Co.
Tulsa will win if … Trey Watts runs wild. He was the Liberty Bowl MVP against ISU last season and also gashed the Cyclones for a long run in the previous meeting. The defense must find a way to stay off the field (117th in TOP). Same goes for ISU (107th in TOP). And both depend on offenses extending drives to make that happen.
Prediction: Tulsa 28, Iowa State 24
Three things to watch
Tulsa’s Shawn Jackson
The big-play senior linebacker recently became the school’s all-time leader in tackles for loss with 41.5. He also has 19 career sacks, or one more than ISU has totaled in the past 15 games. Jackson’s scored three defensive touchdowns in a his career and provides a bulwark against the run — even if a play’s well blocked.
Iowa State’s Sam Richardson and/or Grant Rohach
If healthy, Richardson gives ISU a big boost in the running game. He reeled off a 24-yard run before getting hurt in the Northern Iowa game. The ankle/groin injury could linger all season, however, Rhoads said. So Rohach, by all accounts, is a younger version of Richardson. Also adept at running and throws a good ball.
Iowa State’s offensive playcalling
This will be the first game since Rhoads sat down with the offensive staff and dissected the effectiveness of the plays called in the Iowa loss. Will there be more short passes thrown as a result? Many fans cringe at the prospect, but players such as Aaron Wimberly and Jarvis West could shine on such plays —if they’re well-blocked.
Comments are closed.