Notebook: Fresh Cyclones prep for motivated Huskers

By Chris Williams, Publisher

Here are notes that I took from Paul Rhoads’ weekly press conference that was held on Monday morning in Ames.

Huskers will be focused Saturday

I love this YouTube video. It might be the last time where it ever makes any sense for me to post it so here you go….

That’s what went down last year in Lincoln when Iowa State and Nebraska got together….Benny Hill and all.

So…After watching that again and refreshing your memory, do you think the Huskers might be just a little amped up on Saturday?

There is a good chance that they will be ready to play on Saturday afternoon,” Paul Rhoads joked. “I would be too.”

“We know that they will be ready to play because we beat them a year ago. Kansas State beat us a year ago. I certainly used that factor when we tried to go down there to Kansas City and failed this year to beat them. That goes back and forth with every coach’s style of motivation.”

That’s one thing that the Cyclones have going against them in this game. The second is their history against top 10 caliber opponents. Iowa State has played three top 10 programs this year (Iowa, Utah and Oklahoma). In those contests, the Cyclones were outscored 155-34. The Huskers are ranked ninth and 10th respectively heading into Saturday’s showdown, which has major Big 12 North implications riding on it.

“We have played three top 10 teams this year and all three of them have beat us soundly,” Rhoads said. “I want to show up and play. I want to be around for four quarters and let the fans of Jack Trice Stadium be cheering for something that can happen again in the fourth quarter of this game.”

Stopping Taylor Martinez

When Nebraska’s redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez went down with an ankle injury in their 31-17 win over Missouri on Saturday, visions of Zac Lee’s turnovers (see Benny Hill video above) danced in my head. The news that came of Lincoln today said that that with a bad ankle and all, Nebraska expects to have Martinez play this week against Iowa State.

“We will count on Martinez being available and being ready to play and being extremely effective as he is,” Rhoads said. “Their running game in general is a fantastic offense. We will have to control it as best as we can to have an opportunity to stay in the football game.”

Nebraska is currently the sixth best rushing team in America, averaging 294.75 yards on the ground per contest. Martinez averages 110 rushing yards per game himself, as he’ accounted for 886 and 12 touchdowns on the season.

How in the world will Iowa State stop that?

“In playing sound defense, the goal is to have somebody in every gap,” Rhoads said. “I’m not sure that is good enough against him. So when you’re trying to defend him, you almost want to have two players assigned to him.” “When you do that, you weaken yourself somewhere else.”

Cyclones control own destiny in Big 12 North

If you’re Iowa State, it is pretty simple. Win your last three football games and you’ll play for a Big 12 championship in Dallas this December.

A long shot? Absolutely. But it is still possible at this point. I’ll take that.

We’re not in the Big 12 race or the Big 12 North,” Rhoads said. “Maybe numerically speaking we are but we are just out there trying to improve. This is our next game. We want to be better this football game. The sports writers are talking about Nebraska and Missouri. That is who they are talking about and that’s okay. Our kids know how the numbers read and so forth. We really want to play a good football game this week against a top 10 quality opponent.”

To get a clear indication of what Rhoads really meant by that quote, you need to hear him say it. CLICK HERE to listen to his entire press conference from Monday morning.

Fresh legs key in two wins

Iowa State’s football team didn’t practice on Sunday.

“We came in, ran and altered our lifting schedule. We lifted a little bit more than we had been and did not practice after we got through films,” said Rhoads. “We are playing fresh right now.”

That’s something that this program couldn’t say last season at this time.

“A year ago in our ninth game against Texas A&M, we had no legs. Going into the Oklahoma State game a year ago, I don’t think that we were really fresh,” Rhoads said. “We went through a stretch there where we played a lot of snaps as football players and our conditioning because of that and how we practice is good. We’re not losing any conditioning when it comes to that and our coaching staff feels that they aren’t losing any necessary preparation.”

Injury updates

It was good to see junior linebacker Matt Tau’fo’ou back on the field against Kansas after breaking a leg in the Iowa loss.

He played fast. He played physical,” Rhoads said. ”He did that on one week’s preparation. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to put him out there. He will work his way right back into our two-deep this week and I expect him to be out on the field Saturday afternoon.”

And the status of Ben Lamaak? Good luck trying to get a clear answer on that topic before Saturday. My guess is that Lamaak will be a day-to-day and game time decision.

“Too early to tell without practicing,” Rhoads said. “He was without a brace yesterday and on the bicycle. They’ve been moving him on the training room. This one will be really how much stability and strength he gets by Saturday. If he gets it by Saturday, he will play. I will not be concerned about his practice time. He has started way too many games in this league to make me say I can’t play him.”