AMES — Same dual-threat quarterback. Same eye-popping statistical portfolio.
When Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege suits up for Saturday’s 6 p.m. game against Iowa State at Jack Trice Stadium, he’ll be riding high. Again.
“He hardly throws any incompletions and he hardly throws any interceptions,” said Cyclone Coach Paul Rhoads, whose team seeks its third straight win over the Red Raiders and first 4-0 start in 12 years. “Pretty good qualities for a quarterback to possess.”
Through three wins over out-manned competition, Doege has connected on 74.3 percent of his passes for 12 touchdowns and one interception. He entered last season’s match-up with ISU on a similarly torrid pace — with 22 touchdowns and four picks after a 5-2 start, but left smarting from a 41-7 home loss in which he failed to throw a scoring pass while tossing two interceptions and losing a fumble.
The then-No. 19 Red Raiders wilted after that rout, which sparked a five-game losing streak. ISU, meanwhile, snapped a four-game skid and eventually reached a bowl for the second time in three seasons.
“I imagine they’ll bring their best game this year,” said Cyclone nose guard Jake McDonough. “That’s typical of every year. ...That’s how Iowa treated us this year — they were mad we beat them last year — and I’m sure Texas Tech feels the same way.”
ISU (3-0) forced three straight punts, two turnovers and a failed fourth-down conversion early in last season’s win over the Red Raiders (3-0) and rolled to a 21-0 first-quarter lead.
Defensive momentum played a critical role in that game, which came one week after Tech upset Oklahoma, 41-38, at Norman.
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“We made them adjust and they didn't make the adjustments easily enough,” Cyclone linebacker A.J. Klein said. “Once the defense gets some momentum we start playing with more confidence, like we did last year. Things start going our way more often.”
Expect a similar approach to controlling Doege this time. Confuse him with fresh looks. Flush him from the pocket. Make him force matters.
“When he starts that scrambling around back there, you've got to get at least one guy up front to go contain him, to get him pulled up so he doesn’t run the football,” ISU defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said. “Of course, that’s sort-of a mismatch in the open field, but that’s what you've got to do.
“In the secondary, you’ve got to make sure no one gets behind (you), that’s the first thing. Then the underneath coverage has to get deep and keep everyone in front of them, also. Then, react and hopefully make the tackle.”
Lots of moving parts. A strong finishing touch is required.
“Doege’s going to get the ball out quick, so if we can disrupt his timing with his receivers early and get some pressure in his face, I think we’ll have the same results as last year,” ISU free safety Jacques Washington said.
But Doege’s well aware of the past, too — and understandably aims for an alternative future.“Guys are excited about this game, which they should be,” Doege said during Monday’s team luncheon. “It’s a big first test. And we remember what happened the last two years. They definitely got, you know, did what they wanted to against us and we didn’t perform very well.”