By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com Publisher
Iowa State (1-2) vs. Northern Iowa (1-1)
Jack Trice Stadium, 6 p.m. on Mediacom
CLICK HERE for a list of affiliates on the Cyclone Radio Network that will cover the game.
ISU OFFENSE VS. UNI DEFENSE
What is it going to take for Iowa State’s offense to score some stinking points? The Cyclones currently rank 103rd nationally in scoring offense with an average of 18 points per game. If that number doesn’t improve drastically, it is going to be a long year in Ames.
Iowa State has a solid opportunity to get back on track this Saturday when Northern Iowa of college football’s FCS division comes to town.
All week long, Cyclone fans have been hashing this topic out. Is Austen Arnaud solely responsible for the offense’s struggles? Is it the offensive line? To me, it is pretty simple. The entire unit has underperformed. Besides one or two guys, nobody on this Iowa State offense has had a good first three games.
“We can’t get out of our own damn way,” Iowa State’s offensive coordinator Tom Herman told reporters on Tuesday night after practice. “That is my fault as a coordinator. It is our fault as coaches and the players have to respond, whether it be a penalty, a dropped pass or a bad read by the running back.”
To sum things up, Austen Arnaud needed to connect with Alexander Robinson at the end of last week’s game. The offensive line needs to quit committing penalties. The wide receivers need to stop dropping passes. This isn’t a one or two man problem.
As of Friday afternoon, I anticipate Austen Arnaud to start the game at quarterback for Iowa State. Whoever is in at quarterback better get ready to run. Northern Iowa has averaged 6.5 sacks per game against North Dakota State and Stephen F. Austin.
However, the Panthers rank 109th in the FCS division against the pass, giving up 301.5 yards through the air, per game.
Another hot topic this week has been the play of redshirt freshman Jeff Woody, who ran for 42 yards against Kansas State a week ago.
Woody will continue to get his licks in this week against the Panthers, but expecting him to play over Alexander Robinson is crazy talk.
“We found a little something in Jeff and it was really good timing when Austen went down,” Herman said. “The situation dictated it where A-Rob was productive but not as explosive through the holes as he normally had been. To be able to throw Jeff in there and have that kind of change of pace and fresh legs was a welcomed surprise. I think that it all depends on where A-Rob is. He is still going to be our guy. He always will be. If he is playing lights out, then Jeff can cheer him on. If he is having a rough day, then Jeff will be a welcomed addition.”
ISU DEFENSE VS. UNI OFFENSE
Iowa State defensive coordinator Wally Burnham had some pretty flattering words about Northern Iowa’s offense earlier this week.
“They are the fastest team that we have played so far, by far,” Burnham said.
The veteran coordinator was specifically speaking about UNI’s quarterback, Tirrell Rennie, who ran for 132 yards last week in a two point loss to Stephen F. Austin.
“He’s a jet,” Burnham said. “He can run their offense to perfection. You have got to account for that joker every snap. I mean every snap. If you don’t, he can pass, he can run. If he is out there on the field, you better know where he is.”
To make things worse for Iowa State’s 112th ranked rush defense, the Cyclones have a game-breaking Panther running back to worry about too in Carlos Anderson.
“He is explosive,” Burnham said. “We showed our defense about four clips from his last two games, just unbelievable plays.”
Still, Northern Iowa has five new starters on their offensive line in 2010. Will Iowa State’s rush defense show improvement this week at home against the FCS Panthers?
“We have a long ways to go,” Burnham said. “We keep swinging an axe, trying to chip away at it. That’s the only thing that you can do as a coach, improve your players.”
– How will Austen Arnaud respond? It seems like half of the fan base has turned on the fifth year senior. Will he change their minds with a big game against the Panthers?
– Can this offense produce a big play or two? Other than a long run by Alexander Robinson in game one against Northern Illinois, explosive plays have been non-existent for this Cyclone offense.
– Tackle somebody! Missed tackles have plagued Iowa State’s defense over the course of the last three weeks. We’re all just looking for improvement here.
CF/Wilson Toyota pregame show, 3-4 on 1460 KXNO
If you’re going to be tailgating tomorrow afternoon, flip on 1460 KXNO from 3-4 as Tron Smith and I will bring you the first ever Cyclone Fanatic/Wilson Toyota Cyclone pregame show. Our guests will be the Voice of the UNI Panthers Gary Rima and Ben Bruns of the Cyclone Radio Network. Tron and I will be broadcasting live from lot S1 so please stop by and say hello. At the conclusion of our broadcast, we’ll head over to the Wilson Toyota tailgate right beside the Jacobson Building.
Game updates via Twitter
Starting tomorrow night, our Ian Smith will be providing constant game updates on our Twitter page, @CycloneFanatic.
CHRIS’ FINAL PREDICTION
Iowa State 34, UNI 17