By Austen Arnaud, former Iowa State quarterback Follow Austen on Twitter @ADArnaud4
Austen’s five keys to a Cyclone victory on Saturday vs. Texas Tech.
Points – For the Cyclones to be competitive in this football game, they have to score points. This is obvious against a team who is ninth in total scoring in the BCS averaging just under 44 points a game. Saturday’s game is another against a juggernaut offense, where in my opinion, the best defense is a good offense. This means that Iowa State has to be proactive on offense and prolong drives. This comes down to being efficient on first downs and not turning the ball over. Hopefully, Jared Barnett will play turnover free football like he did last week against A&M and give this team a shot to win the game.
Secondary Play – Iowa State’s secondary is a very strong unit but once again, they will be tested by an up-tempo, high scoring offense on Saturday. The Iowa State secondary cannot commit to heavily to the run because about 95 percent of the time Texas Tech will have four receivers on the field. A guy the Cyclone defense is well aware of is sophomore receiver Eric Ward, who has caught eight touchdowns in seven games this year. That’s not to mention Red Raider quarterback Seth Doege is completing an absurd 69 percent of his passes with 22 touchdowns this season. Our ability to get pressure on Doege will be key; the only way to make a QB like this uncomfortable is to make sure he is getting hit and knocked down and I believe the Cyclone front seven possess this ability to do so.
Big Plays – Texas Tech will have their fair share of big plays, however Iowa State must counter with their own. Texas Tech’s favorite option in a jet-tempo set is to hurry to the line of scrimmage and take a shot on a vertical deep ball. I played them several times in my career and they will attempt to do this more than five times per contest. It doesn’t matter what coverage they see, the ball is going up in the air. On the Iowa State side of the ball, where have our special team fakes and trick plays been? The teams I’ve played for in the past carried multiple special teams fakes and trick plays to keep teams off balance. If I know Coach Rhoads, this is the type of game where he will pull out all the stops and get after Texas Tech.
Establish the Run – This key coincides with keeping Tech’s offense off the field. An offense that possesses the ball longer always has the upper hand in victory. However, this stat is very much skewed in the Big 12. James White must be an impact on Saturday and have his best game as a Cyclone. I believe that he is poised to have a Baylor type of game where he’ll go for over 100 yards. The Cyclones need this effort from him. In my opinion, James White can’t get the ball enough as he is averaging five yards a carry on the season. A key factor of this game is the ability the Cyclones now possess to run the zone-read with Jared Barnett. It’s not that Steele Jantz couldn’t do it, but its obvious Steele’s ankle still needs to heal for him to be 100 percent effective.
Limit Opportunities – Iowa State can’t afford to turn the ball over in this contest. Due to their fast tempo and pass friendly offense, Texas Tech will have plenty of opportunities as is. Like I mentioned before, with the deep ball ability of Tech, Iowa State must limit opportunities by lining up correctly to formations and making sure they execute most coverages. The Cyclones will be able to move the ball against the Red Raiders and when they do they must capitalize on red zone opportunities and score at will.