By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com Publisher
Happy Cy-Hawk week fanatics. What’s cracking’ today? Tired of the MADness yet? Notice that I capitalized MAD. Just giving more MAD props to Iowa’s genius marketing department. Time to move on.
I hate this week. Everybody is in edge. Hawk fans are mean. Cyclone fans are mean. There’s just a whole lot of hateful bickering. Having said that, I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. I hate this week but I LOVE the Cy-Hawk game.
As you can imagine, this Saturday’s game is the hot topic in this week’s mailbag. Let’s get started with a question from SuperCy.
SuperCy writes: I’ve had this conversation with some people I work with. It’s my opinion that beating Nebraska is a bigger deal than beating Iowa. We’ve beaten Iowa on a semi-regular basis and Nebraska has been a conference opponent. What is your thought?
CW: I think that you have a point SuperCy. If you were to ask me, “who would you rather Iowa State beat on an annual basis,” I would tell you Nebraska without even thinking about it. In the Big 12 North, if you consistently beat Nebraska, you’re consistently going to be in the hunt to play in the Big 12 championship game.
Now in addition to that, if Iowa State didn’t beat Iowa back in 1998 to start that streak, last year’s win in Lincoln probably never would have happened. Iowa State’s five straight wins over Iowa in the late 90’s and early 2000’s helped build the program that won last year’s Insight Bowl.
If Iowa State would never have beaten Iowa, would Bret Meyer and Todd Blythe have become Cyclones? You see where I’m going with this?
Beating Iowa consistently was a huge start. It gave this program credibility in its own backyard that it never had before. Today though, the Nebraska game is more important.
You know what sucks? That this question will be totally irrelevant in December.
Erikbj writes: What can the coaches do to get AA to stop turning the ball over???? I know he has gone through 3 coaches, but come on. 5th year starter and his 2nd year in this offense. I was disappointed in the 3 turnovers in the first game hoping that he had grasped the offense better by now.
PS – I do like AA and think that he could do something special this year, just dumb mistakes make me mad!
CW: First of all, I don’t think that you can pin three turnovers on Austen from the Northern Illinois game. I think that the Clones got jobbed on that “backward pass” in the second quarter. I won’t put that one on Austen. The two interceptions were definitely major mistakes. Maybe the worst is behind him now for 2010? Was Arnaud possibly shaking off the rust from the offseason?
What can the coaches do? They can keep coaching him. I think that Austen is at his best when he’s not thinking too much. That’s why he’s so good in last minute type of situations. Think about the game in Vegas a few years ago and that last minute drive. What about the drive in the Kansas State game last season? We could even mention the Kansas game from a year ago. He’s good in that type of scenario when his mind isn’t too involved. He’s a clutch player who is good when he has to move quickly. That’s just one man’s opinion. Making Austen as comfortable back there as possible is how he’ll be successful.
RING4CY writes: How much of a concern is the defensive pass rush (lack there of?)
CW: It is a major concern. All you have to do is read THIS COLUMN by our Ben Bruns. I actually think it is an even bigger deal this week than normal when you think about what I call the “Stanzi factor.” A lot of you don’t want to read this, but I think Ricky Stanzi is a very good quarterback when he is comfortable. He’s efficient, he’s poised and he can make professional caliber throws. But what about when he’s feeling pressure? That’s another story. That’s why it is so important to get into Iowa’s backfield.
Ms3r4ISU writes: How likely are we to see some real tackles on a consistent basis by our defense this season? It’s one thing to say what needs to happen (PR: "… We were trying to tackle with our arms and not our hips.”) and another to actually make it happen. I’m frustrated with watching fingertip tackles slip out of our grasp more often than not.
CW: Iowa State only missed 14 tackles the other night against Northern Illinois. I think that a lot of people, myself included, thought it was worse than that because of that first Northern Illinois possession. I would like to ask Coach Rhoads of the 14 missed tackles, how many of them came in the defense’s first two possessions? Those just stood out more and yes, it looked really bad.
Trust me. This team will get better at tackling every single game this year. That’s priority number one for Paul Rhoads. He prides his teams on that, as does Wally Burnham.
CYdTracked writes: What are your favorite and least favorite things about the ISU/Iowa rivalry week?
CW: I’ll start with the positives. I absolutely love the passion that it brings out in sports fans in the state of Iowa. I love it! The Iowa State-Iowa game is what this state is all about. We don’t have any real professional teams. This is it. I love that!
What I hate is when fans just get stupid with members of the other side. There is just so much crap to put up with all week long. It does get nauseating sometimes. I don’t mind trash talk. In fact, I love trash talk. It’s just the hateful banter that I can’t stand.
Clones21 writes: More tackles against Iowa. Knott or Klein?
CW: A.J. Klein.
Pyrocyz writes: Who will play point guard in 2011?
CW: I think that it will be Tyrus McGee, a 2011 prospect out of Cowley County Community College. He was on campus last week for the Northern Illinois game. It is going to come down to Iowa State and Creighton. Imagine that. I like Iowa State’s chances.
Chuckd4735 writes: On Sunday Iowa State is 2-0…What happened in Saturday’s game to make that happen?
CW: Iowa State doesn’t turn the football over. Iowa does. I think it will come down to that. Austen has to play great. The defense has to be as opportunistic as they were at times last season. I don’t think that Iowa State has to play a perfect football game but it has to be close. More importantly, I think that in order for this upset to occur, Iowa has to screw up a few times too.
RedBlooded writes: Chris who would win in a fight. You or Joe Paterno?
CW: I have no idea why I am even acknowledging this question. Joe Pa is like 136 years old isn’t he? Do you really question me this much as a man? If so, God help me.