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Behind Enemy Lines: Q&A With Wide Right & Natty Lite

A look at this week's coming opponent from our SBNation sister-site Wide Right & Natty Lite

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Here we are, about to play the only other team that has yet to win in the Big 12 this year.  To prepare myself for the soul-sucking performances we are about to see on the field, I got in touch with Dan Becker over at Wide Right & Natty Lite, who was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us.  Unfortunately, due to his busy schedule he was unable to send some for me to answer, but head on over to WRNL to check out some of their coverage.


RCT:  I have to admit that I haven't followed anything Iowa State football so far this year (can only handle so much suckitude), so can you talk a little bit about the expectations you had coming in to this year?

WRNL: The highest of expectations was a bowl game, with the more common expectation being somewhere around 3-5 wins with obvious improvement on the offensive side of the ball. If you look at the team on paper we're right on the money with those expectations but how we got there has been frustrating to watch. The offense has been fantastic at times (Toldeo, Texas, various halves of games) and downright deplorable in others (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State). We knew the defense was going to be young, but we didn't know they'd lose most of their interior linemen and suffer the injury bug. It's still no excuse for giving up 700 yards to Oklahoma, but it's been a struggle to watch and think this team is improving despite the fact they're right in line with most preseason expectations.

RCT: I remember hearing about a rash of injuries you had at the beginning of the year. How much have those affected the team, and how have the replacements stepped up?

WRNL: Offensively I'd say the injuries have had little impact, but the margin is razor thin with little to no offensive line depth now. The big story was receiver Quenton Bundrage tearing his ACL four plays in to the season, but true freshman Allen Lazard has stepped in admirably and looks like the future at the wideout position. He's not as fast or as flashy as Bundrage, but he catches nearly everything and knows how to use his 6'5" frame to win battles for the balls.

Defensively the team was healthy early on but the loss of senior MIKE linebacker Jevohn Miller last week makes a thin middle even thinner, and senior defensive tackle Brandon Jensen is banged up as well. If there's a silver lining in all of this it's the fact that some talented young guys are getting quality minutes, and should benefit from that experience in 2015.


RCT: Paul Rhoads appears to be on the hot seat up there in Ames.  How much in danger is he really?  Would a loss to KU be enough to push him out?

WRNL: In the eyes of the fan base a loss to KU would put the guillotine squarely over Rhoads' head, but I don't think athletic director Jamie Pollard will feel quite the same way. The fans are fed up with blowout losses, and a loss to a struggling Kansas team is going to be tough to come back from, but Pollard has a stadium expansion to sell next year, knows this year's team was young and breaking in a new offensive staff, and has seen what Rhoads can accomplish with experienced teams.

It's very likely bowl game or bust for Rhoads next year, regardless of 2014's finish, but I don't think realistically he's on his way out of Ames after this year.


RCT: Is your equipment manager competent?  After "CleatGate" last year in Ames, I'd hate to hear about a repeat in Lawrence this year (and yes I'm aware no adverse conditions are forecasted in Lawrence).

WRNL: I can't speak to the qualifications of our equipment manager, but I can say we most certainly don't have someone with Charlie Weis' hubris making decisions on our program. We'll wear the right cleats, won't change uniforms after warm-ups, and try our best to not blow our load in the 1st quarter and spend the next three listless while the other team beats us in to submission.


RCT: Finally, your prediction for the game. Does Rhoads potentially save his job with a victory, or does Bowen get the first victory that might keep people from laughing at the prospect that he could potentially get the permanent position?

WRNL: I respect Bowen.  Ignore the scoreboard from last week, but he clearly seems more organized than Weis, is willing to shake things up, and the seems to be getting some godo effort out of his players.  There could be a lot worse hires for Kansas to make.

Rhoads doesn't save his job with a win, but it makes the fan base feel better for a few weeks before welcoming Texas Tech to Ames.  I think Kansas is going to struggle trying to stop all of Iowa State's receiving threats, but Iowa State is going to struggle stopping Kansas' running game.  That said, I think there is more talent on the Cyclones squad and that might be the difference in the game.  Give me Iowa State 37-28.
Thanks to Dan for joining us this week.  You can check him out on Twitter @WRNLKnowDan.