Iowa and Iowa State are both coming off impressive victories to begin their 2015 seasons. The Hawkeyes defeated Illinois State 31-14, while the Cyclones got the win over Northern Iowa 31-7. Both performances came as a surprise as they were drastic improvements from what became customary last year.
Most of the stories out of Ames afterwards came from the re-built Iowa State defense, but their offense did find a nice rhythm after sputtering throughout the early portions of the game. Quarterback Sam Richardson converted 21 of 29 passes for 233 yards and two scores, with the important number being that he did not turn the ball over during the game. The Iowa State receivers a strong area fo the Cyclone offense, so there's a lot of pressure on Richardson to be productive.
Speaking of the receivers, their star is Allen Lazard, a native of Urbandale, and he was effective against the Panthers, hauling in four catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. He's also a threat as a punt returner. Though Lazard is a special player, Quenton Bundrage and D'Vario Montgomery are solid contributors as well. Tight end E.J. Bibbs is gone from a year ago so it is one less potent weapon to be concerned over, but that is still a dangerous receiving core. The positive thing is the Iowa secondary is a strong unit as well, so that matchup should be intriguing, strength vs strength. It will be a big responsibility for Greg Mabin, Desmond King, Jordan Lomax, and Miles Taylor. The safeties for Iowa will have to be better than they were a week ago. I also think you could see some more Sean Draper on the field this Saturday. He is a very experienced corner that can be vital against the Cyclones.
The Cyclones running game is still a work in progress. They aren't returning a lot of carries from a year ago, barely any in fact. They're using a committee to handle the duties currently, which includes Mike Warren, Tyler Brown, and true freshman Joshua Thomas. Warren and Brown have some quicks so though they are relatively unproven, they could provide some problems for Iowa in the open field if they were to break loose. As far as between the tackles, the Hawkeyes should be able to limit the damage Iowa State can do on the ground offensively.
Daniel Burton is still questionable for the contest, and he's the starter usually at right guard. It is not known whether or not he will be available yet. It's a position group that held up well against Northern Iowa, but the defensive front for the Hawkeyes should be more of a challenge for them. They're a group still looking to get better, and the depth is limited. They do have the size, though, no question. Their offensive line is much bigger than the Iowa defensive line.
Hear from linebacker Cole Fisher, linebacker Travis Perry, defensive end Drew Ott, and cornerback Greg Mabin in the video above on their thoughts about the Cyclones.