clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

5 Questions: Kansas vs. Iowa State

The Jayhawks are back home this week to take on the Cyclones, and we have five burning questions entering the contest.

Ronald Martinez

1) Will Cummings put it together again?

Michael Cummings has done nothing but improve in each week that he has been the Jayhawks' starting quarterback. Despite an ugly loss to the Baylor Bears last weekend in Waco, Cummings actually played well. He completed 70% of his passes (21/30) for 288 yards, his highest total of the season thus far, threw for 2 touchdowns and didn't throw an interception. That's not a bad performance at all, it just happened to come against a really good team that scores a ton in Baylor. If Cummings plays at a similar pace to how he's played the last few weeks, the offense will be able to get the job done at home against Iowa State. He may not have numbers as good as he had in Waco, but I see no reason why he can't play at a similar level to what he's been doing in the last few weeks.

2) Can Corey Avery and Tony Pierson be productive on the ground?

I applaud Clint Bowen's concerted effort to get Tony Pierson the ball more on offense in any way, and it has led to more rushes for #3. However, he and Corey Avery were not able to get much done on the ground at all against Baylor last week, combining for just 49 yards on 20 carries between the two of them (a 2.45 YPC average). The Bears do have a stout run defense, ranking second in the Big 12 in that category through five conference games. On the other hand, Iowa State is dead last in the conference in rush defense, allowing 261.2 yards per game on the ground. Avery has shown that he is a more than capable tailback in his brief career so far, and of course Tony Pierson is an incredibly explosive weapon for this Jayhawks team, so this may be the week that this duo can break out and have a huge impact on the game. If they can perform well, it will take a lot of pressure off of Cummings and will open up more opportunities for the offense in general.

3) Will the Jayhawks be able to have an effective pass rush?

Kansas is second to last in the Big 12 in terms of sacks for (only ahead of Iowa State), and a poor pass rush is a large factor in a weak defense. However, Iowa State is not particularly good in pass protection, so far allowing 12 sacks through 5 games in conference. If KU is able to get to Sam B. Richardson, it will completely change the game. This sounds like an obvious point, but on the flip side of things, the Jayhawks aren't exactly good when it comes to pass protection either, having allowed 15 in Big 12 games so far. Whichever team is able to apply more pressure on the opposing QB will have a big advantage in this game.

4) Can the secondary contain the ISU passing game?

Kansas certainly isn't taking on an offense like Baylor again this week, and Iowa State is not really what you'd call a juggernaut (yes, that's an understatement). Iowa State has a weak passing game but a weaker rushing attack, so the air will be the crucial area for the Jayhawks to stop on Saturday. Jacorey Sheppard and the rest of the secondary should be able to slow down the Cyclones' passing game, assuming that they can bounce back from a bad game against Baylor. Containing Iowa State through the air will keep the Jayhawks in good standing throughout the game this Saturday.

5) Is this the week?

As in, is this the week that the Kansas Jayhawks score a conference win? The answer, in my completely unbiased opinion, is yes. I realize that while it seems as though KU is improving, none of that matters much until there is a higher number in the wins column, but this is likely the best chance they have at winning a conference game and I am buying into the improvements, especially on offense. Cummings has played well and can lead this team to victory. If the defense holds up and Kansas can limit bad mistakes, they will beat Iowa State for their first conference win of the season.