Kansas State (2-2) Notes
1. The Wildcats two wins have come against FCS teams, one is pretty good (UMass) and one is not so good (Tennessee Tech).
2. Kansas State has a huge time of possession advantage over every opponent this year (36 to 24 minutes).
3. Kicker Josh Cherry has struggled so far this season, he is 1-6 on FG and 9-10 on extra points.
4. Brandon Banks returned two kickoffs for touchdowns last week (91 and 92 yards). He is 12th in kickoff returns nationally with a 39 yard average. Banks is also the best receiver for K-State and leads the Big 12 with all purpose yards (170 yards/game).
5. Penalties have plagued the Wildcats this year. Kansas State has been penalized 30 times for 281 yards (average of 8 penalties for 70 yards each game).
6. Running Back Daniel Thomas is off to a good start averaging 108 yards a game, good for 12th in the nation.
7. Kansas State likes to blitz an inside linebacker on almost every running down leading to several tackles for loss.
8. The Wildcats have been one of the worst teams in the nation in net punt average (32 yards/punt).
9. Kansas State is 10th overall in total defense, giving up only 242 yards each game.
Iowa State (3-1) Notes
2. WR Darius Reynolds broke his left ankle in practice on Monday and will miss the remainder of the season. Darius Darks had replaced Reynolds as a starter two weeks ago, but Reynolds had playmaking ability and his depth will be missed.
3. Alexander Robinson has rushed for more than 100 yards in three straight games. ARob averages 113 yards/game which is 11th in the nation. He strained a groin at the end of the Army game and his health is in question this week at Kansas State. All reports say he will be ready to go, but I can’t imagine he will be 100%.
4. Iowa State is #1 in the nation in sacks allowed giving up only one sack in four games.
5. The Cyclones enter the game with a 9 game Big 12 conference losing streak.
6. Michael Brandtner averages 44 yards/punt (15th in the nation) and ISU is fifth in the nation in net punting with a 42.52 yard average.
7. Iowa State was expected to put up big numbers in the passing game with Tom Herman’s new passing offense, but they currently rank last in the Big 12 in passing offense.
Keys to Cyclone Victory
1. Win Special Teams – Coming in to the game Iowa State appears to have a nice advantage in special teams. Brandon Banks is obviously very dangerous as a kick returner, but going in to last week he averaged a very pedestrian 26 yards a return and Iowa State has covered kicks well this year. The Cyclones will need to keep Banks under wraps on Saturday to win the game. ISU has a big advantage at kicker (Grant Mahoney 6-8 FG, 12-12 XP over Josh Cherry 1-6 FG, 9-10 XP) and punter (Michael Brandtner 43 net punt yards over Ryan Doerr 32 net punt yards). Kansas State had a punt blocked for a TD against Massachusetts, so hopefully ISU has a scheme to pressure the punter.
2. Run the Football – Iowa State has ran the ball consistently this year (210, 190, 234 and 173). Kansas State has a run blitz scheme that has made it difficult for opponents to run the ball. However, UCLA ran the ball well on the Wildcats in their win, rushing for 173 yards on 34 attempts. The Iowa State OL vs Kansas State DL will be a battle to watch.
3. Play with Discipline – The Cyclones played their most disciplined game of the year against Army and will need to play that way to win in the Big 12. Last week Iowa State didn’t have a turnover, missed only 7 tackles and had just 2 penalties. A repeat performance is needed on Saturday.
Players to Watch
1. Jeremiah Schwartz – How healthy is Alexander Robinson’s groin? Robinson has been about 35% of Iowa State’s offense this year and the back up running backs haven’t seen a ton of time. I can’t imagine ARob will be able to take all the snaps this week, so Schwartz will need to play big in a big time environment. Schwartz has looked good at times, but he needs to secure the football as he has two fumbles in limited playing time.
2. Leonard Johnson – I suspect ISU to make a concerted effort to stop the run and make Carson Coffman win the game. Johnson will most likely be one-on-one with Brandon Banks at times and he needs to keep him quiet. Johnson had a pick six slip through his hands last week, maybe he holds on this week and brings one to the house.
3. Grant Mahoney – The Wildcats have done a good job of keeping teams out of the end zone. It is imperative that ISU comes away with points on long drives. I could see Coach Rhoads calling Mahoney’s number several times at Arrowhead this weekend.
I had this game circled as the most important game before the season even started (10 Goals for ISU football in 2009). Coach Rhoads has ended a couple nasty losing streaks already (the 1o game overall losing streak and the 17 game road losing streak). The nine game conference losing streak will be the next streak to fall on Saturday. Rhoads has made special teams a priority this year and it will pay huge dividends against K-State. The huge ISU offensive line will continue their improvement and wear down the Wildcat defense late in the game. The game should be close, Grant Mahoney will be the difference hitting four total field goals and a late one that will seal the game for Iowa State.
Iowa State 26 Kansas State 17
Iowa State – Kansas State Game Links
Video: Iowa State Player Interviews (Alexander Robinson, Patrick Neal, Austen Arnaud, James Smith)
Video courtesy of Cyclones.com
Video: Iowa State Coordinators Wally Burnham and Tom Herman break down Kansas State
Video courtesy of Cyclones.com