A quiet week as we wallow in the disappointment of blowing our first lead of the season, but we do have a game this Saturday- and not just any other game, but a game where you could conceivably pick TCU to win without having people laugh in your face. I wouldn't do it, mind you, but you could. However, someone who might pick the frogs is KnowDan of the excellent and funny Wide Right and Natty Lite, which I can't recommend highly enough, and he was kind enough to answer my questions on the Cyclones in advance of Saturday's game. I'm also theoretically supposed to have some questions from the WRNL crew to answer as well, but I don't have them yet so make sure to check their side tomorrow for my answers- let's get to it.
HawkeyedFrog: Before we discuss the game, let's talk coping strategies. Both TCU and ISU have struggled mightily this season, but not all of our readers are familiar with times where TCU was very bad at football. What's the best way to deal with disappointment in a season?
KnowDan: In true Iowa State fashion we stick to the motto of "Win or lose, we still booze!" and we mean it this year. It's been a long time since the Cyclones have fielded a team this bad and thinking back to those 2003 and 2008 seasons they just appear as nothing more than hazy memories now and Mr. Jack Daniels had a lot to do with that.
Oh, and there's basketball season. You guys have a good basketball team, right? (ed. Probably will end up with more conference wins than our football team. Ouch, I zinged myself.)
HawkeyedFrog: Iowa State started off okay in the Big 12, beating Texas before the game was gifted back to the Longhorns by the referees, and coming within a score of Texas Tech- then came a blitzing at the hands of Baylor and the Cyclones have struggled since then. Was the Baylor game a tipping point for the season, or do you think the Cyclones can get back on track and crawl out of the conference basement?
KnowDan: Futurama's Zap Brannigan is famous for saying "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is spongy and bruised," and that is the case for Iowa State after running into the Baylor buzz saw in Waco. Just when we thought the team had turned the corner away from their early season woes with capable performances against Texas and Texas Tech the world came crashing down with absolutely bludgeonings by Baylor and Oklahoma State. The team showed fight last week against Kansas State but with injuries to almost every single unit on both sides of the ball the team is wilting away during the stretch.
HawkeyedFrog: Sam Richardson has been the Cyclones starter for most of the year, but he's only played briefly in each of your last two games. Are we more likely to see extended action for Sam against another bad team like TCU, or is the staff ready to make the move to Grant Rohach?
KnowDan: Iowa State's depth chart was released Monday morning with Rohach on top but Paul Rhoads contradicted it almost immediately in his Monday morning press conference saying that both quarterbacks will get reps this week and whomever is the best will start. My money is on Richardson trotting out for the first series but Rohach again plays the majority of the game, not that it matters because both will be running for their lives.
HawkeyedFrog: TCU has shown a stubborn aversion to running the ball this year, no matter how effective it's looked, so how is Iowa State's pass defense looking? Is the D-line going to cause havoc and get Casey Pachall killed like West Virginia did?
KnowDan: The pass defense is terrible at worst and questionable at best. Defensive coordinator Wally Burnham has been leaving the secondary in a lot of man-to-man looks lately and that's with a true freshman starting corner out there. The defensive backs are sticking with their receivers fairly well but still allowing catches or getting called for pass interference seemingly on every third down. Safeties Jacques Washington and Deon Broomfield are stretched too thin having to worry about the run game as well, and there are a lot of opportunities over the middle because of it.
HawkeyedFrog: Apart from last Saturday's miserable performance TCU has been pretty solid defensively this year, how do you expect the Cyclones to attack the Frogs on Saturday and do you expect much success?
KnowDan: How they should attack: max protect schemes early and look to get Quenton Bundrage or Dondre Daley one on one with TCU's corners down the sidelines for a quick strike. Attack the edges with the running game after and also move the pocket to keep the defense from blitzing on obvious passing downs.
How they will attack: Power running play to the outside, incomplete pass on 2nd, incomplete pass on 3rd and 7 that is only designed to go to the sticks and not pressure the defense into making a decision on their coverage. Second drive flip the pass and run but end up in the same 3rd down situation. Lather, rinse, repeat. (Ed. And yet... I'd take that in a second. Did you hear that? They run the ball at least once every possession.
HawkeydFrog: Finally, prediction time. Last week's showdown with West Virginia was labeled "Disappointment Bowl", so we'll call this one the "Better than someone other than Kansas Showdown". Who do you like in this one?
KnowDan: I will label this the Please Find a Win Because We Probably Won't Beat Kansas Bowl. Wordy, but appropriate.
Final Score TCU 28, Iowa State 13
HawkeyedFrog: Our thanks to KnowDan and the whole Wide Right and Natty Lite crew for their courtesy and for picking TCU to win, because hey, someone should. Drop by Wide Right and Natty Lite with regularity for humor and Iowa State news, and drop by them tomorrow specifically for my answers to their questions.