From The Other Side: Iowa State

Each week, will dig deeper into the opponent by interviewing a media member from the opposing team. This week Alex Halsted, from, helps us learn more about Iowa State.

In our first question and answer series, BearsIllustrated caught up with Publisher, Alex Halsted to dig deeper in to Iowa State and answer questions regarding the upcoming game against in Ames, Iowa. This game will be televised nationally on the FOX Network on Saturday, at 7:20 PM.

--- After a big win over in-state rival Iowa, what types of things did the ISU Football team work on, during the bye week, to prepare for Baylor?

Iowa State used its bye week for two key areas:

For one, the team practiced only three days during the bye week in attempt to get healthy. The Cyclones have already lost their top playmaker in receiver Quenton Bundrage to an ACL tear, and multiple offensive linemen have suffered season-ending injuries as well. So the week was used to get up to speed on Baylor, but also to rest.

Secondly, coach Paul Rhoads said the team used the week to get additional reps with one-on-one work to prepare for the high-powered Baylor offense. Iowa State, Rhoads said, will end up with twice as many one-on-one opportunities for the defense in practice, which it hopes can help slow down the passing game come Saturday.

--- With new OC Mark Mangino, how would you rate the play of the offense, in particular the play of QB Sam B. Richardson?

After a slow season-opener where the offense struggled to find its rhythm, the offense has begun to click in the last few weeks. Rhoads has said that Sam Richardson is in the midst of his best string of games of his career and he also called his performance against Iowa the quarterback’s best. In that performance, Richardson led the Cyclones on the first game-winning drive of his career and he has become both more poised and confident.

Richardson has improved in going through his progressions this season and has at times sat in the pocket longer to find an open target rather than simply running immediately. The offense is a veteran group and in recent weeks has been in the best shape it has been in some time.

--- What is the mindset of the defense, after last years game, and the offensive output the Bears had?

The key mindset from the defense in reference to last season’s 71-7 drubbing is to forget it. By and large the defense it quite a bit different in many ways and the secondary is very, very young. At the same time, some players say allowing 71 points is also being used as motivation to not let it happen again.

The feeling from some players has been that Iowa State must focus on stopping Baylor’s running game, feeling it might allow them to slow down the offense overall. Nobody seems to think they can stop the Baylor offense; it’s more about slowing it down and hoping the Iowa State offense can answer.

--- Besides Richardson, give Baylor fans 1 player on offense they should look out for on Saturday night? 1 player on defense?

On offense, a key could be DeVondrick Nealy. Nealy is actually Iowa State’s backup running back, but was a key part against Iowa, though he fumbled twice. Nealy has begun to be more of a split-back with Aaron Wimberly and seems to provide the best chance right now to get the Iowa State running game going with his powerful push.

Defensively, things start up front for Iowa State with defensive end Cory Morrissey. He had two sacks against Iowa two weeks ago and is the veteran presence on the defense. Rhoads has referenced the speed that Baylor quarterback Bryce Pretty gets the ball out with, so Morrissey will be a key for the defense to get any pressure it can.

--- With this game being nationally televised on Saturday night, what is the excitement level on campus, and what are the expectations heading in to the game against Baylor?

Overall, the game doesn’t have near the feel of when Iowa State faced and ultimately upset No. 2 Oklahoma State in 2011 at Jack Trice Stadium. That was a Friday night game with a different feel. Most fans don’t expect a win it doesn’t seem, so the excitement might be more because they finally don’t have to get up to tailgate for an 11 a.m. kickoff as they did the first two weeks. Nonetheless, Jack Trice Stadium tends to fill up despite the record, and fans will be excited for a primetime game.

With that said, Iowa State players are excited for the fact that they aren’t expected to win and if they do (or compete), it’ll be a bonus.

BearsIllustrated wants to thank Alex Halsted for taking the time to answer questions. Baylor fans be sure to follow Alex on twitter @alexhalsted and also at All Cyclones for all information on Iowa State leading up to the 7:20 pm kickoff on Saturday, September 27th at Jack Trice Stadium.

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