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Frogs O’ War Roundtable: Iowa State Cyclones

The staff gives their thoughts on TCU’s road trip to Ames.

Jared Wiley & the Horned Frogs are looking to pick up TCU’s first win in Ames since 2015
Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

TCU leads the Big 12 in defensive sacks (even after registering zero last week vs. WVU) while the Iowa State offensive line has allowed the fewest sacks in the league. Do you see TCU winning this battle on Saturday?

  • Anthony: Sacks may be one of those counting stats that says more about your opponent’s skill than your own; the ISU skill and scheme on offense will shut down the TCU pass rush, particularly if Johnny Hodges misses another game.
  • Austin: This is a tough one to call. But, the pass rush looked poor a week ago and I wasn’t a big believer in the pass rush before the season, thus the high sack total was very surprising. If I were to choose, I’d side with the Cyclones in this battle of the trenches.
  • Miles: Yes, I do. Iowa State is horrific on offense, but they’re also incredibly one-dimensional. They’re one of the worst rushing attacks in the country. I think TCU can do a lot with their blitz packages without worrying about getting torched on the ground.
  • Russ: I don’t see TCU winning this battle. The Frogs have struggled in the trenches over the last two weeks and I expect the Cyclones to assert themselves in this matchup.

TCU is currently bottom-10 nationally in red-zone scoring percentage, having converted opportunities inside the opponent 20-yard line into any points just 70% of the time, with just 50% being touchdowns (10 of 20 red zone trips). What has gone wrong for the Frogs and how can they find the endzone against an ISU defense that has only allowed five non-Oklahoma TDs in the redzone?

  • Anthony: The turnovers have been awful, but the real killer has been that the Frogs have no go-to plan when the field shrinks. Week One it’s Trey Sanders bouncing outside, vs. SMU it’s the TEs ruling the day, against Nicholls it’s was scheming the slot WRs open, but there’s been no consistent winning attack. While the Cyclone defense is perhaps not as strong years past, if Morris is going to test T.J. Tampa the way he did Travis Hunter, it could bring similarly disastrous results.
  • Austin: The playcalling in the red zone has hampered the Horned Frogs. TCU hasn’t found a goto play nor a goto player in the red zone. The indecisiveness is leading to penalties. Getting Chandler Morris on the move or looking over the middle to tight end Jared Wiley or slot receiver JP Richardson should be common occurrences. Additionally, the Frogs have two talented backs in Emani Bailey and Trey Sanders. They must be used when the field shrinks.
  • Miles: Biggest issues have been turnovers and penalties. Chandler Morris went through some serious growing pains in the Colorado game. I think he’s learned from them, and TCU will continue to improve in the red zone as the year goes on.
  • Russ: TCU has suffered from a myriad of self-inflicted wounds on offense. Whether they be penalties, turnovers, bad calls or simply refusing to take the points, I think we’re far enough into the season where this may just be what TCU’s offense is this season. If the Horned Frogs can’t run the ball on Saturday, their offensive woes will only become worse.

Offensive MVP vs. Iowa State

  • Anthony: Jared Wiley. Here’s hoping he returns from wherever TCU hid him last week vs. WVU. A week after dominating SMU as the focal point of the offense to win the Iron Skillet, Wiley had just one catch for nine yards last week. I’m looking for TCU to use him as the monstrous red zone target that he is, rather than a sixth offensive lineman.
  • Austin: JoJo Earle. I’ll add some special teams into this pick, as Earle is a good return man who hasn’t quite broken a long one yet. And, Earle is a speedy slot receiver who could be a red zone threat either as a rusher or receiver.
  • Miles: This one is on the offensive line. The big boys up front got pushed around against West Virginia. If TCU is to win this game, the OL has to get going.
  • Russ: Dylan Wright. I think Wright has all of the tools to become TCU’s No. 1 outside receiver and having another game on the field should add more to his growing connection with Chandler Morris. I’m really hoping that this game can be the Dylan Wright breakout game.

Defensive MVP vs. Iowa State

  • Anthony: Abe Camara. He’s been terrific in coverage the last two weeks, in addition to his typical physical and emotional play, making several key plays as the TCU Defense has not allowed a passing TD since Week 1. With ISU WR Jaylin Noel often operating out of the slot, Camara will likely be faced with the challenge of containing him and should be called upon to make game-changing plays again this week.
  • Austin: Mark Perry. Perry is one of the many talented safeties on the roster and must make plays against Iowa State. The Cyclones have a poor running game and tend to pass, therefore the defensive backs will be heavily involved in this one.
  • Miles: Josh Newton. Iowa State isn’t really a threat to run the ball, so it’s going to be on the secondary to make plays. Newton needs a pick in this game.
  • Russ: Namdi Obiazor. He’s been perhaps the most underrated player on the TCU defense this season. With Johnny Hodges sidelined, Shad Banks has stepped up, but Obiazor has done very well in his outside linebacker role after moving down from the secondary.

Final Score

  • Anthony: TCU 24, ISU 13
  • Austin: TCU 27, Iowa State 14
  • Miles: TCU 31, Iowa State 21
  • Russ: TCU 31, Iowa State 14