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Breaking down TCU (1-1) vs. Iowa State (0-2). Kickoff is 11 a.m. Saturday (FS1).
There has been no real run game to speak of so far for Iowa State, but the numbers showed a slight uptick last week. Against Iowa, the Cyclones netted 126 yards on the ground while seven rushers combined for that total on 35 carries — Joel Lanning had 13 of those carries.
Mike Warren hasn’t produced to the level he did a season ago, but the ISU offense has been stymied with 19 penalties combined in the first two games and not made a running attack useful. He has 19 carries and 58 yards this season. Although there is some cause for concern, remember Warren didn’t have his breakout game until the third game last year — 21 carries for 127 yards against Toledo.
TCU has allowed an average of 154 yards per game on the ground in two games with opponents getting four yards a carry — fifth best in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs traditionally produce stingy defenses and Iowa State is still trying to figure out its pieces along the offensive line to give Warren and true freshman David Montgomery help.
Iowa State has been the worst Big 12 passing team through two weeks. No other league opponent has thrown three interceptions and attempted 63 passes or less. The Cyclones are also dead last in passing yards per game at 210.5, 31.5 yards behind ninth-place Baylor.
Joel Lanning has shown at times to be a capable quarterback with his three touchdown passes in week one — 39, 18 and 33 yards — against Northern Iowa, but owns all three ISU picks with questionable decision making. Backup Jacob Park relieved Lanning against Iowa and was 6-for-15 passing for 79 yards, but Iowa State coach Matt Campbell snuffed any quarterback controversy talk Monday, at least for now.
Cyclones offensive coordinator Tom Manning said there are possibilities that Lanning and Park could be used in the same game in different situations, but for now Lanning holds the rights to start. Allen Lazard, who is one of eight players nationally to have two 100-yard receiving games in the first two weeks, looks like an elite pass catcher with Dondre Daley and Hakeem Butler providing more big targets for whomever is at quarterback.
TCU hasn’t recorded any interceptions and has allowed a league-high six passing touchdowns in its first two games and an average of 278 yards per game through the air. The Horned Frogs can run with five defensive backs at times, but those numbers indicate Lanning could have a chance to make plays through the air.
Quarterback Kenny Hill is a true dual-threat and is particularly effective with his feet. He is the only quarterback in the top 10 of the Big 12 in rushing. He’s averaged 69 yards per game in the first two weeks and has five rushing touchdowns while Horned Frogs tailback Kyle Hicks averages 54 yards per game and has four touchdowns.
Iowa State saw a dual-threat quarterback in week one with UNI's Aaron Bailey, who can serve as a kind of preview in preparation for Hill, a transfer from Texas A&M.
“There’s some things, intangible things, that he can do,” Iowa State defensive coordinator Jon Heacock said of Hill. “He can run it and pull it down and run it. Those have been some of his biggest plays. Not necessarily some of his designed runs, but him pulling the ball down on a scramble. He beat Arkansas a couple times on some third downs. He can go.”
The Cyclones have allowed 215 yards per game on the ground and 4.6 yards per carry. Defensive tackle Demond Tucker has lived up to expectations in the middle of the line, but rushers have found a way to get outside or find holes in a gap on the other side of the line. With TCU’s ability to disguise its offense through Hill, the front seven of the ISU defense will have its work cut out for it.
As effective as TCU quarterback Kenny Hill is running, he’s been a pretty efficient passer too. He’s fifth in the NCAA in passing yards per game (408) and his 65.7 percent completion rate in the Horned Frogs first two games puts him third for a season at TCU behind Casey Pachall and Andy Dalton.
Now would be a good time to watch all five of Kenny Hill's touchdowns... pic.twitter.com/7T30yLp2bP— TCU Football (@TCUFootball) September 4, 2016
KaVontae Turpin notched his third 100-yard receiving game last week against Arkansas with 126 yards and tied a career high of seven catches in each of the first two games. Turpin, at 5-foot-9, is the shortest returning player in the Power 5 to have at least eight touchdown catches last season.
Iowa State will once again be at full strength in the secondary, this time with an even healthier D’Andre Payne. The 5-foot-10 and 190-pound sophomore had just one tackle in his first game with the Cyclones as he dealt with a nagging fall-camp injury. Senior Nigel Tribune is also returning from a two-game suspension stemming from an offseason incident.
The Cyclones are the fifth-best passing defense in the Big 12, allowing 186 yards per game, but have yet to force a turnover. If they intend to stop the Horned Frogs, that has to change.
Iowa State didn’t record a return on five punts against Iowa. Allen Lazard lined up for the returns ahead of Trever Ryen. Kene Nwangwu has been the lone kick returner, but had just two returns for 42 yards last week.
Colin Downing’s punt average dipped to 35.6 yards per kick against the Hawkeyes, but had a long of 49 yards on his nine punts for 320 yards. Cole Netten made his only field goal attempt, a 31-yarder, last week after missing an extra point in week one.
KaVontae Turpin leads the Big 12 in punt return average (28.8 yards per game), kick return (34 yards per game) and all-purpose (236 yards per game).
“To be honest with you, in my opinion, the most feared special teams returner that I’ve seen since I’ve been in football,” said ISU coach Matt Campbell. “He’s outstanding. A kick returner, punt returner and can change in an instant. We’ve got to do a great job of being prepared.”
TCU also has a freshman punter in Adam Nunez averaging 39.8 yards per kick while new kicker, sophomore Ryan Graf, is 13-for-13 on PATs and 2-for-3 on field goals.
1. TCU leads the all-time series against Iowa State 6-1, with the Cyclones winning in Forth Worth on Oct. 6, 2012. That was the last win Iowa State had against a ranked opponent, beating the No. 15 Horned Frogs, 37-23.
2. Quarterback Joel Lanning and receiver Allen Lazard connected on a touchdown pass for the first time in their careers last season against TCU. The 74-yard score is still a career-long for both players.
3. Iowa State has not started a season 0-3 since 1997, which is the year the current Cyclones freshman class was born. ISU coach Matt Campbell was a senior in high school.
1. Iowa State is seventh in the Big 12 in penalties with 19 for 162 yards. Three league opponents have been penalized more in the first two weeks, including TCU. The Horned Frogs are the most penalized Big 12 team so far with 21 infractions for 220 yards.
2. TCU has converted 67.6 percent on third down and leads the Big 12. Iowa State is last in the conference at 23.1 percent on third downs and is one of four league schools that have single digit third-down conversions.
3. The Horned Frogs are second, only to Texas Tech, among Big 12 teams in scoring offense (48.5 points per game) and total offense (617 yards per game). Iowa State is last in both at 11.5 points per game and 299 yards per game.
ISU WILL WIN IF ... It can cut down dramatically on its penalties, develop a running attack and win the time of possession to slow down TCU’s potent offense.
TCU WILL WIN IF ... It can speed the game up and force its will on an inexperienced offensive line to disrupt any offensive flow.
PREDICTION: TCU 45, Iowa State 14