Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State football look ahead: TCU game should be another matchup of strong defenses

Horned Frogs, Cyclones have had Big 12's best defenses last 2 seasons

TCU head coach Gary Patterson. (USA TODAY Sports)
TCU head coach Gary Patterson. (USA TODAY Sports)
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AMES — In the last two seasons, the Iowa State-TCU football series has strayed from every “Big 12 is just offense” stereotype.

The defenses control the game in this series.

TCU Coach Gary Patterson has long been revered for his defense and its speed. Some of the Horned Frogs’ players are undersized, but they more than make up for it with speed. And in the Big 12, speed is the name of the game.

On the other side, Iowa State defensive coordinator Jon Heacock has constructed a defense that’s every bit as good — if not better — than TCU’s.

In 2017, Iowa State beat TCU 14-7 at Jack Trice Stadium, thanks in large part to three forced turnovers from the Cyclones’ defense. TCU beat Iowa State 17-14 in Fort Worth last year.

The series returns to Ames in 2019 and once again, the defenses will be at the core of the game — and each team.

Iowa State gave up a Big-12 best 22.9 points per game last season. TCU was second at 23.1. TCU gave up a Big-12 best 338.2 yards per game. Iowa State was second at 349.2.

The defenses don’t appear to be slowing down in 2019. Iowa State returns eight of its 11 defensive starters from last season. Meanwhile, TCU loses seven of its top 11 tacklers, including first-team All-Big 12 defensive end Ben Banogu, who recorded 57 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, 10 hurries, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

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TCU’s defense also loses its other first-team all-conference defensive end in L.J. Collier, who had 42 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, four pass breakups and five hurries.

Replacing that duo will be a challenge for Patterson.

Shameik Blacksheer, a graduate transfer from South Carolina, appears to be one of the players ready to step in. The senior played in all 13 games last season for the Gamecocks, tallying 27 tackles, four tackles for loss and one sack.

While the defenses will likely dominate this game, the offenses should probably get a mention.

TCU picked up Kansas State graduate transfer quarterback Alex Delton in the offseason. Delton transferred after legendary Wildcats coach Bill Snyder retired.

Delton played in seven games last season and started two. He threw for 554 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, completing 55 percent of his passes. He also rushed 85 times for 234 yards and two touchdowns.

Delton’s sophomore stats are actually better than his junior stats. He also played in seven games in 2017, throwing for 637 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions on 58 percent passing. He rushed 100 times for 500 yards and eight touchdowns.

TCU’s other (clear) options at quarterback are Justin Rogers, who was the No. 3-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2018, and junior Mike Collins. The problem is Rogers had a serious knee injury in high school, and while he was cleared to play last season, he now has a drop-foot condition where he loses control of his foot as a result of that injury.

Collins played in nine games last season for the Horned Frogs and totaled 1,039 yards and six touchdowns on 56-percent passing.

The Horned Frogs do bring back their best offensive weapon in receiver Jalen Reagor. Reagor had 72 catches for 1,061 yards and nine touchdowns.

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Taye Barber returns after an impressive freshman campaign as well. Barber was TCU’s third-leading receiver with 32 catches for 303 yards and two touchdowns.

TCU also returns its leading rushers in Sewo Olonilua and Darius Anderson. The two combined for over 1,200 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

Way too early prediction: Other people are higher on TCU than I am. The Horned Frogs lost a lot of pieces on defense and replacing them will be difficult. I’m not sold on any of their quarterback options, either.

This game will follow a similar path as the last two in the series. While TCU loses a lot, Patterson always has a good defense and that shouldn’t change next season.

I’d be shocked if either team scored three touchdowns in this year’s matchup. I have Iowa State winning by single digits.

Iowa State football look ahead

Northern Iowa is back as the season-opener

Recent Cy-Hawk history doesn't tell us much about 2019

Louisiana-Monroe wraps up non-conference play

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Baylor should have explosive offense, suspect defense again

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