My thoughts on Saturday’s TCU-Iowa State matchup in Ames.
TCU Horned Frogs
Every time Iowa State defensive coordinator Jon Heacock is asked about an exceptionally dynamic opposing player, he groans, and you can almost see his blood pressure and stress levels rise.
TCU has a handful of dynamic players. Heacock’s groan this week was louder and more sustained than usual.
Running back Darius Anderson is averaging 8.2 yards per carry and has five touchdowns through four games. TCU also has more of a power running back in Sewo Olonilua, who is averaging 5.2 yards per carry and has two touchdowns.
In addition, the Horned Frogs have a host of receivers who can do damage. They have five receivers who have at least six catches for 100 yards. No receiver has more than 11 catches and 135 yards.
They’re led by Jalen Reagor, who along with having 11 receptions, is TCU’s punt return magician. Reagor has returned 12 punts for 232 yards and one touchdown.
“Shoot. That guy’s good,” Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell said. “No matter what you say about how you directional punt or wanting to do that, the fact of the matter is there’s still opportunity for those guys to make plays on the ball and do things with the ball in their hands. Especially in the punt game. I think that’s a great challenge, so for this group, we’re going to have to be our best and I think we know that going into it.”
TCU Coach Gary Patterson made his name on defense, but his offenses always have playmakers.
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“TCU is probably one of the most talented teams in this conference across the board,” Campbell said. “They have a very veteran defense — as we know, Coach Patterson is outstanding on the defensive side of the ball. Then on the offensive side of the football, they’re really skilled. They have a veteran offensive line, probably the most veteran offensive line in our conference, and they have two outstanding senior running backs.”
The only potential hiccup for TCU is true freshman quarterback Max Duggan. Duggan has been OK for the Horned Frogs, but he’s been inconsistent.
His most recent game against Kansas was his most efficient game, completing 8 of 11 passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
“I’m a big fan of Max,” Campbell said of the former Council Bluffs Lewis Central prep. “I got to know Max and his family really well — he has a great dad, who was obviously his high school football coach. He had great success over there. For Max, it’s a lot of respect for who he is, and him going somewhere else doesn’t change my appreciation for who he is.
“When you watch Max, you see him continue to do the things that were really impressive in high school. He never panics, he plays with really good poise and you can see him being a great asset to that team because they have a lot of great skill players, so you see him have the ability to distribute the football when it’s time to distribute the football. I think he’s been a huge asset to them.”
Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State is going to play in bad weather conditions — again.
The chance of rain Saturday is 70 percent, with most of the expected rain coming from 10 a.m. through noon.
How does offensive coordinator Tom Manning prepare for poor weather conditions?
“At this point I always prepare for rain, or sleet or whatever the worst possible weather conditions are,” Manning said. “It affects everybody in a different way. It affects each defense a different way. And really the interesting thing is it affects each player a different way that sometimes you aren’t really aware of.
“It can show your fundamentals, or lack thereof, in a negative way.”
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Because the poor conditions do have an impact on the players, he does have to change his play calling a bit. He’s more mindful of where on the field his offense is and what down and distance it is because some plays work better or worse in the rain depending on those factors.
If, for example, the 20-yard line on the hash marks is all chewed up, he’s not going to ask Deshuante Jones, a slot receiver, to run a hard-breaking route at that spot of the field.
Manning did add Iowa State is lucky it has a grass field that drains so well because it does reduce the amount of standing water on the field.
One of the best ways to beat a sloppy field is running the ball, something Iowa State hasn’t always done well this season.
It’s a game where a guy like Johnnie Lang, who likes to make a lot of cuts and jump cuts, could struggle because he might not have the footing he’s used to.
Manning also said the rain slows everybody down, so it’ll be interesting to see how it impacts a guy like Kene Nwangwu, who’s game is built on his blazing speed.
Maybe the most important factor for Iowa State’s offense is figuring out which running back is going to have success in the rain.
I like TCU’s running backs more than I like Iowa State’s on a rain-soaked field.
TCU 17, Iowa State 14
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