THREE THOUGHTS: Why not target Lazard more?

Sep 17, 2016; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Iowa State Cyclones wide receiver Allen Lazard (5) returns a kick in the first quarter against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Allen Lazard only caught one pass for eight yards in Iowa State’s 41-20 loss to TCU last Saturday. What was more troubling is the fact that the most talented Cyclone on the roster was only targeted three times (this doesn’t count the bogus offensive pass interference call late in the second quarter).

TCU head coach Gary Patterson – who is widely known in coaching circles as a defensive genius – had a lot to do with that. The Horned Frogs mixed up coverages and doubled Lazard for most of the day.

Heading into Monday morning’s press conference, I wanted to know what Matt Campbell thought about Lazard’s surprisingly low numbers after he had some time to dissect the tape.

Here was his response:

“I think it was one of those situations where they were giving us some cushion over there with Allen because they took a safety out of the game at times,” Campbell said. “I think it opened up some running lanes for Michael (Warren). There are points and times where offensively, you hope you can get that. You want to keep Allen where he is at and use his strength and physicality at times to take two defenders out of there to allow you to sustain some things offensively.”

It’s also important to note that Lazard is currently fighting a foot injury. 

But according to Campbell, Lazard’s presence served as a decoy to open up room for others, specifically Mike Warren. Lazard’s attention also gave the Cyclones other opportunities that they didn’t take advantage of – specifically for first half dropped passes (three by Dondre Daley) that could have resulted in a much more competitive game at the half.

“I think you also saw us move Allen around a lot,” Campbell said. “He played in the slot some. When we did try to target him, we tried to get that double coverage off of him. Certainly, they had a plan for Allen and I think that is one of the things that we looked for. It hurt too not having some of his wing mates in the game. Obviously not having Daley for a quarter and Hakeem (Butler) hurt. With them in the game, you can’t double Allen. I think we continue to evaluate what defenses do and how they play us and find ways to get Allen the ball. We also have to find ways – when they want to do that – to change schematically and take advantage of it.”

Iowa State should learn from what happened on Saturday and be better for it over the long haul.

On another note, I was actually impressed that the quarterbacks didn’t lock in on Lazard and throw into double coverage more. Joel Lanning and Jacob Park each took care of the football, so that’s a plus.

But Allen Lazard, one of the top receivers in not only the Big 12 but also the country, absolutely has to be involved more.

That’s on the coaches.

Basketball could be better…

My mind started to get into basketball mode on Wednesday when Blue Ribbon released its preseason top 25. The Cyclones were not included. Only two teams from the Big 12, Kansas (3) and West Virginia (19) made the cut.

That is exactly why I feel like Iowa State could end 2016-17 with a better record than last year’s team that went to the Sweet 16. Compared to the last two years, the Big 12 is going to be down.

Iowa State lost Georges Niang and that’s a huge deal, but Steve Prohm should be well equipped to lead a guard-oriented (he’s used to that) and much deeper team in his second year coaching high-major ball.

Pound for pound, the Cyclones might not be better than they were a year ago but their record at the end of the year might not show it.

On the trail…

If you haven’t already, I highly suggest listening to this week’s “On the Trail” podcast with Jared Stansbury and Adam Gray.

Steve Prohm and his staff have been killing it on the trail as of late and this weekend could go down as one of the larger Iowa State recruiting weekends in recent memory.

Be prepared.

Talk to you guys tonight when Cyclone Fanatic Radio takes the air from 6-7 on 1460 KXnO. Of course we will be live at BenchWarmers in Ankeny, so if you are in the area, stop by and say hello.