This week we stepped outside the network for our weekly Q&A. I do recommend checking out the newest edition of SB Nation's Iowa State blog, "Wide Right & Natty Lite", the new crew has mixed in with the old to provide a rather humorous and still informative take on the Cyclones.
But for this week we're joined by Ross Husson with Clones Confidential for a quick rundown of Iowa State. I as always returned the favor and answered a few questions about our Jayhawks.
As for the questions, well we're talking Cyclone momentum coming off the Tech win, quarterback merry go round and the Paul Rhoads factor.
For all things Kansas v Iowa State heading into Saturday, check out Clones Confidential and if you're a twitter participant check out Ross on twitter at @ISUConfidential. With that, let's jump into the Q&A.
Big win for the Cyclones last week against Texas Tech and they did so in VERY convincing fashion. What was different about that game for the Cyclones and does that momentum continue heading into this week?
Almost everything went right for the Cyclones last Saturday. I think the biggest difference about that game was freshman QB Jared Barnett getting the start. The team played pretty well when he entered the game in the Texas A&M game so Paul Rhoads gave him the starting spot against Tech. He was making the throws, picking up first downs with his legs, and not turning the ball over. It looked like a completely new team with Barnett out there instead of Steele Jantz.
Also, you have to credit the defense. They held one of the most explosive offenses in the country to only seven points. They didn't allow Seth Doege to throw for a single touchdown and picked him off a couple of times.
Yes, I do think the momentum will continue against the Jayhawks although ISU beat Texas in Austin last year but struggled somewhat against KU the following week. Everyone realizes this is a must-win for the Cyclones if they want to go to a bowl game so I expect the Clones to be on top of their game.
Kansas fans have a little bit of Paul Rhoads envy. His teams seem to compete every week and play hard even though they might not be on the same level talent wise as some of the other teams around the Big 12. It's exactly what we wish our team would do right now. What is it about Rhoads that players seem to respond so well to?
Rhoads shows so much emotion for his players. He is the team's biggest fan when the game is going on. He is not like a Bill Belichick where he stands on the sidelines expressing no emotion but rather a guy who is constantly applauding and encouraging his players. You should have seen him after beating rival Iowa for the first time in his career at ISU. He was yelling, hugging random people, and pumping his fist on the way to the locker room after the victory. What player wouldn't want to play hard for him?
Steele Jantz was a hot name early in the season, some of that hype has simmered down but what does he bring to the table offensively?
After the first three games of the season, it looked like Steele Jantz was the savior of Iowa State football. He was so big around Iowa for that stretch of time as people were making t-shirts and everything. However, it took one helluva pass to beat Northern Iowa by a point, a miraculous game against Iowa to beat the Hawks in overtime, and a lot of help from the defense to beat UCONN. I don't want to say Jantz was lucky to win those games despite turning the ball over a lot but I think a lot of Clone fans got a "he can't play like this forever" feeling. Clone fans were right, he kept turning the ball over against Big 12 teams and they made us pay. Like I said earlier, Rhoads ended up starting Barnett in the Tech game.
If Steele Jantz gets a chance to play against KU on Saturday, you can expect a little bit of everything. He can make some unbelievable plays that will have you questioning what you just witnessed. He is also a threat on the ground and made some big plays with his legs especially against the Hawkeyes. You can also expect a turnover or two if he is in the game for a long time.
Steele Jantz may have lost his starting spot for now but I wouldn't be surprised if he won it back next year in the offseason.
Looking at the Cyclone offense as a whole what makes them dangerous and what sort of matchup plays to their benefit?
The Cyclones are really dangerous when they are able to run the ball. We saw last week what can happen with success on the ground. Running backs James White and Duran Hollis both ran for over 100 yards and QB Jared Barnettt rushed for 92 against the Red Raiders. The offensive line had a lot do with their success. They were opening up some big holes and star OT, Kelechi Osemele, was mauling defenders.
Kansas really struggles with defending the run so I expect the Cyclones to run the ball down the throat of KU.
Flip it to the defensive side of the ball. Who are the players to watch? What weaknesses might Kansas be able to exploit?
The Cyclones have two of the best linebackers in the Big 12 in Jake Knott and A.J. Klein. These two guys are tackling machines (Jake Knott is second in the Big 12 in tackles and A.J. Klein is fourth). They pursue the play so well, play through injuries, and do all the right things. The best part about these two guys is that they are both juniors.
Leonard Johnson is also a guy that Jayhawk fans should be aware of. The senior cornerback is projected to be selected in the NFL Draft next April. My personal favorite player to watch is safety Ter'Ran Benton because he can lay the wood on players.
I know Kansas runs the ball the majority of the time and the Cyclones have struggled against the run. Iowa, Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, and Mizzou all had big games on the ground against the Cyclones. If KU's offensive line can open up lanes for James Sims and Darrian Miller, the Jayhawks can make it a good game.
How do you see this one playing out?
This game scares me and several other Cyclone fans. Turner Gill and the rest of the team probably think this is the best opportunity to get a win on their schedule. Iowa State is coming off a big and emotional victory against Texas Tech so there is always the chance of a letdown game by the Clones.
However, I think Iowa State will pull out the win. Like I said earlier, Iowa State's running game is coming around. I expect James White and Jared Barnett to have big days running the ball against the Jayhawks. I think ISU's linebackers and defensive line really prevent KU from having a monster day running the ball.
Kansas 17, Iowa State 30