By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
Iowa State’s Pinstripe Bowl date with Rutgers is just around the corner.
To learn more about the big game, CycloneFanatic.com recently caught up with the Voice of the Scarlet Knights, Chris Carlin.
Here’s what went down.
CF: What is the feeling around the Rutgers fan base and maybe even your media as well about this game? Do you all know much about the Cyclones and if so, what do they think about Paul Rhoads’ team?
CC: They don’t know a whole lot about them but they do know obviously that they beat Oklahoma State this year. That’s the number one thing that is going to jump out. If you look at the record, you figure you’re playing in the Big 12 and you’re in a big spot there against some pretty good teams week in and week out. I think there is a high respect level towards Iowa State at this point, considering what they have achieved in beating Oklahoma State. That’s the big thing that most people are aware of at this point.
CF: Is the fact that Paul Rhoads coached against Rutgers while he was the defensive coordinator at Pitt a little too deep of a storyline for most fans or is that something that’s being talked about?
CC: I think that fans are aware of that, certainly that Paul was at Pittsburgh running that defense. He saw them year in and year out. Pittsburgh was always a pretty good challenge and I think that people who are familiar with his previous work there know about him. As a result, they expect this to be a pretty good game.
CF: Rutgers has used two quarterbacks a lot this season. For somebody who isn’t aware of that situation, can you explain how each man has been used this year?
CC: They don’t play them both in the same game necessarily or at the same time. Chas Dodd started the season. He struggled a couple of times. He took over last year as a true freshman. Gary Nova stepped in. Gary is a little bit more of a mobile guy who has a good pocket presence. He can feel his way around. He has struggled a bit at times too as a true freshman. Chas kind of came back as the starter. The UConn game was one where it got away from them so much that they were just trying to get something sparked offensively. That’s why they went to two guys in that spot.
CF: Any clue who will be the guy against Iowa State?
CC: At least from what I can gather, it is still something that is kind of evolving at the moment. It’s definitely a possibility that either guy could get the nod.
CF: Let’s talk about Rutgers’ wide receiver Mohamed Sanu. He’s an impressive young man when you look at his stats. Can you tell us a little more about what makes him so good?
CC: I think it is a couple of things. Athleticism. Mohamed has that and physicality. Those two things really I think are what sets him apart. His athleticism is outstanding. He has a way of getting open even when double-teamed and I think that is what jumped out. He’s put up those numbers and he’s been double-teamed most of the year. As a result, it just kind of shows the kind of ability that he has. The other thing is that he’s the kind who goes out and leads by example. He is one of the elder statesmen of this team as a junior. He’s played since day one. He played hurt a lot last season. This year he’s just been flat out dominant. He’s one of those guys who speaks more with actions than with words.
CF: Looking at Rutgers’ stats, I get the feeling that it is a tough defense to throw the football against. Can you scout that defense for me?
CC: It’s an aggressive defense. It’s been very good against the pass all season long. It’s been pretty good against the run. There have been a couple of times when they’ve had breakdowns in it but at the same time, it’s been one of those opportunistic type defenses that forces a lot of turnovers. At the same time, the best word to describe them is aggressive. They do a lot of different things to try to confuse the opponent.
CF: From what you know of Iowa State, is there a matchup, an angle to the game, whatever, that concerns you the most from a Rutgers standpoint about the Cyclones?
CC: Not really anything in particular other than the fact that you obviously know that the ability is there to play at a very high level considering they have that quality win among others this year against a team that had an argument to be playing for the national championship. That speaks a lot about what they are capable of doing. I think that from that standpoint, they don’t really focus on one aspect of them. They just know what this team is capable of, period.