Iowa State and TCU are in similar situations heading into Saturday's matchup. Both are battered by injury, both have endured disappointing seasons. If the Cyclones are going to start tacking on a few feel-good wins, now's the time. Here are three things they can do.
1. Aaron Wimberly, welcome back. It seems like eons ago the Cyclones had found their feature back. Aaron Wimberly rushed for over 100 yards against Tulsa and Texas in September and early October, but hasn't been himself in a game since then; missing the second half against Texas Tech, limited against Baylor, out against Oklahoma State and Kansas State.
The Cyclones will have a hard enough time moving the ball against TCU's defense, a top 25 national unit. If they can't have a fully-healthy Wimberly at their disposal — he's done everything in practice after recovering from a hamstring injury — it could be a very long day.
The Horned Frogs are stingy, but have given up 100-yard days to a running back in their last two games, West Virginia's Charles Sims shining with 6.42 yards a carry on a whopping 24 attempts.
2. Develop an early rhythm. The Cyclones' problems have been well-documented: no points have been scored off initial offensive drives and there have been four three-and-outs in eight games. Against Kansas State the Cyclones went on a nice drive before a false start penalty and a poor throw by Sam Richardson led to its end.
It's not as important to win field position battles and get points on TCU early, because the Horned Frogs simply don't have a good offense. Against Baylor and Oklahoma State, there was too much pressure on the offense to hold its own. Perhaps the Cyclones will come out feeling more relaxed against TCU, and stop slipping up in basic execution, but indications from this week in practice are that several players, including Richardson and Grant Rohach, are pressing too much.
3. Tackle. OK, at this point it's clear these keys — run, play consistently and tackle well — aren't anything groundbreaking. For a 1-7 team, you shouldn't expect otherwise. The Cyclones have done some nice things on both sides of the ball this year, but simple lapses, along with youth, have led to their struggles. Iowa State missed 17 tackles against Baylor and an undisclosed number against K-State, although the guess is it's somewhere in the ballpark of 15-20. Too many whiffs on running back John Hubert and running quarterback Daniel Sams.
TCU's starting running back Waymon James is suspended this game for a violation of team rules, but there's still talent in the Horned Frogs' backfield in B.J. Catalon and Aaron Green. The Horned Frogs aren't naturally an explosive offense, but a high amount of missed tackles will quickly make them look like one.
|Matchup Preview | November 9, 2013|
|TCU Horned Frogs|
(3-6, 0-3 Away)
|Iowa State Cyclones|
(1-7, 0-4 Home)