By Ben Bruns, CycloneFanatic.com Contributor and former Iowa State All-American
The following questions were submitted to Ben Bruns, who writes a weekly piece here at CycloneFanatic.com from fans on our forums.
Q: Name three things that must happen Saturday to keep our kicker from being team high scorer again.
A: We need to be more consistent in the long passing game. Our quarterbacks need to put balls out in catchable spots, and our wide receivers need to make plays on the ball. Only then will we really begin to score points from anywhere on the field.
Q: Walking past Hilton to get to Trice for the game, I noticed the plastic tubing and wondered what are they doing? Are they pouring air into the building to help keep things dry? Special mold removing? What do they do?
A: They are pushing dry air into the building to continue to de-humidify the porous materials inside (wood, sheet rock, carpet, seats, etc).
Q: Ben, as a player, what are your thoughts when you look up at the stands with 5 minutes remaining, and the fans start fighting to get out the door and exit the stadium?
A: As a player, my job wasn’t done until the final whistle. I always wished fans felt the same, though I could understand if I wasn’t doing my job very well, why they might feel okay not staying until that last whistle. It still hurt, but I understood it. What I still don’t understand is why you’d spend all that money to have that gameday experience, then leave before you can thank your team for a win.
Q: If ISU goes 2-2 in their next 4, what 2 games do you see them winning?
A: I’d like to say Tech and Texas, but we need to be a lot smarter than we have been to this point. All four teams are going to have better athletes than we do. We have to make them hate to play us by being lethally effective in executing everything we do.
Q: My right leg tingles whenever A.J. Klein gets and interception. Why is that?
A: I’ve had a lot of injuries in my days as a fat guy…I can honestly say that isn’t one I’ve had or currently experience. You might want to get that looked at.
Q: Ben, could you grade the offense by position?
QB = C+ – good decision making, good run game asset, inconsistent deep OL = B- – some really good things at times, but not consistent enough, huge penalties WR = C+ – get them the ball and they’ll catch it, but no real game breaking plays, huge penalties early in the season RB = A- – nice mix of weapons, good consistency
Q: We are 1/4 of the way through the season. Who are your offensive, defensive and special teams players thus far? Why?
Offensive MVP: Ben Lamaak – consistently a high performer, no mental mistakes I’ve been able to detect
Defensive MVP: AJ Klein given the big plays, with honorable mention to both Leonard Johnson and Jake Knott. I don’t know if Leonard always does it right, but rarely does the ball make it to his guy.
Special teams: Without question, Grant Mahoney. He has been outstanding.
Q: Multiple questions about our offensive line performance..
A: I think the loss of Scott Haughton was bigger than everyone thought it might be. He was a potential all-Big 12 player coming into this year. KO is playing a spot where he isn’t always engaged on a down lineman. If we are in a balanced formation, teams tend to put the 3 technique (defensive tackle on the outside shoulder of the guard) to Hicks’ side. That leaves the gap inside of KO open, and rarely can he down-block on someone. He’s in space against defensive ends and linebackers a lot of the time. If we could have made any move that would have really helped this unit in the off season, it would have been to be able to move him inside. That didn’t happen because we don’t have enough development of our young tackles yet. If he sticks around and we can move him inside next year, we could be really tough.
In general, we haven’t learned that letting the defensive line make a play on occasion is better than getting a 10-yard flag. We need to figure that out in a big time hurry. This unit is a good one, but they aren’t a great one yet…but they still can be.
Q: How would you compare the coaching styles of Paul Rhoads to Dan McCarney? Like what do they do the same or different?
A: I think they are similar in their outward appeal to people who love football. They have an infectious love of the game. Coach Mac always had a positive spin outside, and given where we were, that was important. We went through some very tough times; he was a tough man to handle it, and to help us learn how to handle it, too. Both men genuinely care about the success of the young men in the enterprise. Coach Rhoads is more direct to everyone around the program about what he needs to change to improve. He tells each player what he may not want to hear, but what he needs to understand to maximize his individual talent. As a player, you can’t ask for more.
Q: On attendance
A: I always noticed if people came out to see us. I was shocked when we had a chance to have the first winning season in 2000 and the stands weren’t full against Missouri. That was a disheartening moment. We still went out and did our job – and put a beat down on the Tigers, but it made me wonder what people wanted from us. I rarely noticed what it was like right after the half, but I always noticed at kickoff…that may be why I got upset several years ago at the Baylor game when we had a chance to have a great season and everything just seemed off when the team came down the ramp.
Fans do have an effect on the game and the players do notice. And they do, on occasion, read these message boards. So do their families and some recruits. We are all part of this together.