TCU defeated Iowa State 55-3 last season in their final game of the year, and instead of helping the Frogs' cause, they dropped from 3 to 6 in the final standings, missing out on the first ever College Football Playoff. Despite that, we still like the guys over at Wide Right Natty Light, and their Managing Editor, KFitzy87, agreed to exchange questions and pretend like he's not ready for basketball season quite yet. You can find my answers to his questions over on their fantastic website.
1) If things don't improve through the rest of this season, will it be Paul Rhoads' last with the Cyclones?
If Iowa State continues to play like they did last week against Texas Tech, then absolutely this will be Paul Rhoads' last year in Ames. However, that's definitely not what athletic director Jamie Pollard wants to do, especially with the looming economic troubles canning Rhoads would bring.
Many ISU fans like to try to peg a specific win total that the team needs to reach in order for CPR to stick around. The thing is, a lot of it will also depend on how the Cyclones look on the field, win or lose, the rest of the way. If we pick up one or two more wins and play teams tough for the remainder of the season, there's a high probability Rhoads stays. On the other hand, if we continue to get blown out by conference foes, then there will probably be a change made in the offseason.
2) Iowa State's offense has been given a lift by freshman RB Mike Warren. Just how dynamic is he? What kind of success do you see him having against a depleted TCU defense?
Warren has been a huge breath of fresh air for we Cyclone fans. Ever since Alexander Robinson graduated in 2010, we haven't had a feature back that we can lean on when the pass game isn't operating smoothly (which happens to be quite a lot). It finally looks like we've found our guy.
The running style of #2 isn't going to blow anyone away. He does a great job running north-south and only makes 1-2 cuts along the way. A big factor for his emergence has been a *knock on wood* mostly healthy and experienced offensive line.
If Rhoads and offensive coordinator Mark Mangino have any sense in them, they should give Warren the ball A LOT against TCU. Running the ball will take time off the clock, which will in turn give the powerful Horned Frog offense less time to put points on the board.
The frustrating thing about watching ISU on offense this year is they seem to wander away from what's working a lot of the time. Oh, Warren ripped off some huge runs last drive? Better come out throwing the next time we get the ball! Hopefully if Warren is having a productive day, they just keep feeding him the rock until TCU stops him.
3) The Cyclones currently sit at 2-3 on the season. Are there four more wins you see on the schedule that would make the Cyclones bowl eligible?
Short answer: no. I could see us having good games with Texas and Kansas State (those match ups have generally been pretty close over the past few seasons), but other than that, it's probably going to be a death march for the Cyclones. The good news is basketball season is fast approaching.
4) Jack Trice is always a tough place to play, and the Frogs snuck out with a win in 2013. What can Iowa State do to slow down TCU's offense and stay within striking distance?
As I mentioned earlier, limiting TCU's offensive possessions by running the ball when we're on offense will be a big key. As for the ISU defense, they need to find a way to get pressure on Boykin while at the same time preventing him from scrambling. That's a tall task for sure, but making the quarterback uncomfortable can lead to turnovers, which the Cyclones will need to force if they are to keep this game close.
5) Give us a few names to keep an eye on on both sides of the ball.
Wide receiver Allen Lazard is the other star players on offense for the Cyclones. The sophomore is a big target for quarterback Sam B. Richardson and is deceptively shifty for a guy that is 6-foot-5. Last week against Tech, he caught a season-low three passes, but provided us with this beautiful highlight.
On defense, ISU features the reigning Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in Kamari Cotton-Moya at safety. He could end up being one of the best defensive backs to ever put on a Cyclone jersey when his career is all said and done. Another guy to watch is defensive end Dale Pierson, who's racked up six sacks through five games this year.
6) What's your prediction for this game? An upset equivalent to Oklahoma State in 2011?
OSU 2011 2.0? Ha, no.
I've been sticking with my preseason predictions as the year has gone on, and back then I had picked TCU to win by a blowout score of 56-14. I just don't think Iowa State's defense will have an answer for the Horned Frogs' offense, especially if they're not forcing turnovers. Luckily for Cyclone fans, we should all be blackout drunk by the time the game starts, so it'll be great to wake up Sunday morning and feel like the game never actually happened.