FB Insider: Texas

Iowa State is reeling from a four-game losing streak that included a blowout to Texas Tech last Saturday night in Lubbock. Our football insider discusses the state of the program and looks ahead to the Cyclones' Homecoming matchup with the Texas Longhorns.

CN: Looking back to last week, Texas Tech amassed some unreal statistics with an NCAA-record 45 first downs and 775 yards of total offense. Did you ever envision the Red Raiders would be able to do that to ISU's defense?

Bruns: I really didn't. I thought we would be able to contain them like last year. You'll never stop an offense like that, but I figured we would be able to put them in bad positions and keep them there. When they only punt at the end of the 4th quarter, you know it's been a long day.

CN: The past two weeks the Cyclones have surrendered 105 points and 80 first downs. They're facing another talented offense this week, what reasons for optimism should ISU fans have that the defense will be more stout against Texas?

Bruns: It appears as though Jordan Carstens will be back this week, and I would imagine Nick Moser will be available, too. Having those guys back will help. Obviously, Texas' offense isn't as impressive as Tech's. However, they do have some serious weapons at running back and wide receiver. You have to try to put them in 3rd and long and put the pressure on their QBs to have to make plays.

CN: Austin Flynn was benched in favor of Cris Love in the second quarter against Tech, did you agree with the move? For what reason(s)?

Bruns: I did agree with it. Austin has been struggling, and it is a function of his youth. Cris has been in the system a long time. He has the ability to read a defense and take what it gives you. Austin can't do that yet.

CN: Flynn missed at least one day of practice last week attending his grandfather's funeral. Could that have played a role in his struggles on Saturday night?

Bruns: I can't speak to that other than to say that I know it doesn't make it any easier.

CN: Reading Lane Danielsen's comments in the Des Moines Register on Sunday, it certainly appeared that he would be in favor of Love starting this week. When the quarterback position comes open in the middle of the season, do players choose sides -- for lack of a better phrase -- in terms of whom they would like to see play?

Bruns: I think receivers, and everyone else who cares about the team for that matter, have a vested interest in seeing the best guy for the situation out there throwing the ball. If Cris is move effective, then I would have no doubt the receivers would want him to be getting the start.

CN: I would be mildly surprised if Love doesn't start this week. If I'm correct, what does he bring to the table that Flynn had not been providing?

Bruns: We've talked about the ability to take what a defense gives you, but I also think Cris tends to stick in the pocket longer. He'll get sacked more often, but he'll also make plays after the initial routes break off or to his 2nd and 3rd wide receivers.

CN: Are you concerned about Flynn's confidence if indeed he does lose his starter status? What would you tell him to keep him from losing confidence?

Bruns: I think this will be good for him in the long run. Everyone has to face adversity to become better. While Austin has faced adversity on the field, facing it on the bench is a different ballgame; it makes you appreciate everything that comes to you later. He's a tough kid with a good attitude. I think he'll come through it a better QB and a better person.

CN: When your team is struggling, it's easy to get into a rut. I think it would be a good move to give Flynn some time to see the game the way the coaches see it, and let him gain a fresher perspective while Love plays. Do you agree with that assessment?

Bruns: Yep.

CN: Your thoughts on Bob Montgomery being moved to center?

Bruns: We were limited in what we could do last week by personnel. Matt Bockes is still struggling a little with his knee injury from early in the season. Bob has played a little center from time to time in practice, but never anything like he is having to do now. I'm a firm believer after playing both positions that guys with experience playing center can smoothly transition into playing guard right away, but guards have more adjustments switching to center.

The reason is because the nose tackle is so much closer to the center than the rest of the defensive line is to the guards and tackles. The angles for all your blocks change, which changes footwork and head placement. Contact is quicker, so you have to be very good with your snap hand to get it on them before they have you stood up. Also, even if you've played a lot of center, you get a little case of the butterflies on an important shotgun snap.

If I'm making the decision, here is what I'm looking at:

Is the center covered or uncovered the majority of the game (does he have a nose guard right on him)? If so, you want to have your better player at center. If not and they spend the majority of the game with both of their tackles on the guards like Texas Tech does, you want your better player at guard.

Is Colin Menard more effective than Matt Bockes? Matt is dinged up, so the answer is probably a little. Is that difference enough to offset the following:

You want to run a lot of shotgun but naturally struggle to do so with Bob in at center. Bob is your best offensive lineman in all phases of the game, point of attack run blocking, backside run blocking and pass protection. You need him on a defensive lineman as much as possible.

Bob spent a bunch of plays hunting for linebackers and double-teaming with the guards in pass protection. I would rather see him at the guard spot, distorting the defensive line against a defense like Tech's. If you're playing Iowa or Missouri, play him at center since they like to cover the center. Texas does a little of both (covering and uncovering the center), so you just try to put your five best out there.

It was definitely not an easy choice to make.

CN: Flanking Montgomery in the starting lineup are two freshman guards in Seth Zehr and Aaron Brant. What's your thoughts on those two?

Bruns: It think they are playing like you'd expect against the competition they are facing. People got kind of carried away at the start of the season about the impact these guys would be able to make. These guys are tremendous talents that will be outstanding offensive linemen as juniors and seniors. It is never a good thing to have to start freshmen offensive linemen, no matter how big or strong or fast they are. The position is too technically challenging to be able to do it right away. As a youngster, you're still thinking about where should my foot go, how about my hands…then the ball is snapped and the defenders are moving faster than anything you've ever seen. The game actually slows down around you as you get a little older and a little more experienced.

They are going to be the foundation of an outstanding group with good fundamental coaching, experience and physical improvement. Then you can stop worrying about your reaction and start worrying about kicking the guy across from you into the ground and intimidating him. You get more and more physical after you've been around the block a time or two.

CN: Can you boil down ISU's recent struggles to the schedule and the fact that the Cyclones are just not physical enough on either side of the line of scrimmage to compete against the caliber of competition they're facing each week?

Bruns: I think we are physical defensively, but we don't have guys that can put an all-out rush on the quarterback. Offensively, our offensive line has to improve and take the battle to its opponent's line of scrimmage.

CN: Texas actually played worse against #1 Oklahoma than ISU did two weeks ago. Despite all of their talent, the Longhorns find themselves out of the Big 12 race -- unless Oklahoma loses twice, which isn't going to happen -- and likely out of the BCS picture. You have to wonder what their motivation is now and if this is a team that could drift a little bit. Do you anticipate Texas coming in here flat on Saturday?

Bruns: I think they will be out to prove something…the key to that is punching them in the mouth right away and letting them know they have a long day ahead of them, win or lose.

CN: You also have to wonder where ISU is at emotionally as a team. It has to be draining to get out-manned each and every week. As a player, how hard is it for the Cyclones to keep getting back up and believing they can still win when they've lost 10 of their last 13?

Bruns: I think as long as you've done you best in the off-season, prepared the right way, and go to work each day trying to make yourself better in all phases, you can hold you head up and keep coming back for more. That is the way we did it coming up, and that is the way it will have to be done to get back up.

CN: How important is it for ISU to have some early success this week to get the crowd into it and to let Texas know they're in for a fight?

Bruns: Absolutely important.

CN: What are your keys to victory this week against the Longhorns?

Bruns: I think it all comes down to fundamentals and attitude. Texas is going to want to go to the ground right way. The defense has to take it away and make them throw it. Offensively, you've just got to do whatever it takes to move the chains.

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