116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — The name Collin Klein still conjures nightmares for longtime Iowa State football fans.
The former Kansas State star quarterback rushed for a combined four touchdowns and threw for two more in back-to-back one-score wins over the Cyclones in 2011 and 2012.
Now Klein’s a first-year offensive coordinator for the Wildcats (4-1, 2-0 Big 12) — and his well-traveled protege, Adrian Martinez, has emerged as a top-five Heisman Trophy contender entering Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. meeting with ISU (3-2, 0-2) at Jack Trice Stadium (ESPNU).
“You’re looking at another elite runner, an elite athlete at the quarterback position,” Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell said about Martinez, who transferred to Kansas State from Nebraska. “Watching him through his career, man, the guy’s played so much football.
“He’s confident. Things weren’t going great early, but you feel like he just kept plugging away at it. Now in the last two games, you would put his success up as good as anybody in the country right now at the quarterback position.”
Martinez has rushed for seven touchdowns in the Wildcats’ conference wins over Oklahoma and Texas Tech. He’s galloped for 319 yards in those two triumphs, breaking off two runs of 50-plus yards in the same span.
So how does ISU curtail his prodigious production?
The Cyclones possess a blueprint to work from, at least. ISU held standout Kansas quarterback Jason Daniels to just 9 yards rushing in last week’s 14-11 loss to the Jayhawks. To put that in perspective, Daniels still is averaging 7.2 yards per carry this season despite that unusually low output.
If the Cyclones can similarly contain Martinez, they must also prevent first team All-America tailback Deuce Vaughn from racking up eye-popping numbers, which they’ve been able to do in two consecutive comfortable wins in the series.
“They are very good at what they do,” said ISU senior linebacker and former Cedar Rapids Washington all-stater O’Rien Vance. “They’ve shown that in their past couple games. They’ve been able to put up big numbers when it comes to rushing yardage and we’ve just got to stop the run.”
That’s a simple task, but it’s hard to execute. The Cyclones have excelled in that area this season, though, allowing just 83 yards per game on the ground, which ranks eighth nationally.
The Wildcats — boosted immensely by Martinez’s dual-threat ability — lead all Power Five programs by averaging 267.2 yards rushing per game.
“You’ve got the leading rusher in the league in Deuce Vaughn and you’ve got the third leading rusher in the league in Adrian Martinez,” ISU defensive tackle J.R. Singleton said. “I think it gives us a great challenge. I think we’re up to it.
“I’m really excited about it. I mean, if we just do our job, our one (through) 11, trust the guy right next to you and trust (defensive coordinator Jon) Heacock, I think we’ll be in the right place at the right time.”
The Cyclones were rarely in such favorable position a decade ago when Klein was powering past defenders to lead Kansas State to a pair of narrow wins. Now it’s Martinez’s turn, unless the confident ISU defense stops him.
“We’ve got to be consciously aware of him at all times,” Vance said. “And we’ve also got to make sure we get him knocked down when we can.”