Instead, Kansas enters its first conference game 3-1, while the Iowa State Cyclones sit at 2-2. The matchup features a Kansas team that has been superb on offense, but mediocre defensively. Meanwhile, the Cyclones are used to bigger plays from their defense, where they’ve already forced 13 turnovers, or more than three per game.
And now, the matchups:
1) Jeff Spikes and
Jeremiah Hatch versus Kurtis Taylor, Rashawn Parker and Christopher Lyle, defensive ends
This matchup could well decide the game. Spikes and Hatch are two
freshmen offensive tackles who have had to accelerate their development
this season. They’ll need to be solid links in a pretty
cohesive unit two weeks from Saturday when they travel to face
Oklahoma. This game should mark a good test. Taylor was second in the
conference in sacks last year, while Lyle actually leads the Cyclones
in that category this year. Parker is a good all-around end. With the
zone defense that Iowa State plays, the Cyclones can’t risk
blitzing too many people with the possibility of getting burned. That
means they’ll count on pressure up front, from these three,
to make sure Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing doesn’t have all
day to pass. If Reesing does have that time, he could devastate Iowa
State’s defense by finding easy holes in the zone or down the
seam. Iowa State doesn’t have the offense to get into a
firefight, so this one could make the difference.
2) Chris Harris versus
R.J. Sumrall, wide receiver
Sumrall marks the only real big-play threat that the Cyclones have
offensively. The senior is averaging 18.9 yards per catch, and snagged
a 28-yarder to send the UNLV game to overtime with three seconds left
on the clock. Three of Iowa State’s four longest pass plays
this season have involved Sumrall. Sumrall also owns seven of the top
11 pass plays this year. He’ll be matched up against either
Harris or the hopefully healthy Kendrick Harper. If Harris can keep
Sumrall in check, he will have nullified Iowa State’s biggest
threat and essentially turned the Cyclones into a running and short
passing team, something the Kansas defense is well-equipped to stop.
3) Todd Reesing versus
James Smith, free safety
Both are likely the leaders of their respective units, and
they’ll find themselves in a little bit of a cat-and-mouse
game in this one. Iowa State will need support over the top with its
zone coverage because the Cyclone defensive backs lack the size, and
speed, to keep up with the Kansas receivers. That means Smith will be
counted on to come up and make solid tackles to keep KU receivers from
catching the ball in a hole in the zone and outrunning everyone to the
end zone. At the same time, Smith, who is Iowa State’s
leading tackler, needs to be on his toes in the run game. If Smith
jumps at all on a play fake, the ball is likely going over his head to
where he should have been. At the same time, if he doesn’t
react quickly enough to slow the run, Kansas has the beef up front to
move around a much smaller defensive line.
4) Angus Quigley
versus Jesse Smith, linebacker
Because of the size differential, Kansas running backs Quigley, Jake Sharp and Jocques Crawford might see something they aren’t
used to this season – open space. Or at least
that’s until Smith closes it. Smith is a ball-hawk and one of
the keys to Iowa State’s run defense. He plays downhill and
is always around the ball. On the other hand, Kansas has struggled to
run the ball in 2008, and is looking for a breakout game to restore
confidence for both the offensive line and its backfield trio. The
coaches drilled the run game into the head of their players during the
off week, and Saturday will give the players a chance to respond. If
Kansas can run the ball effectively, this game will get over in a hurry.
5) Daymond Patterson
versus ISU punt coverage unit
Iowa State lost to Iowa for two key factors: they only scored three
points on five trips inside the Iowa 30 and they allowed an 81-yard
punt return touchdown, which opened up the game from a 10-3 Iowa lead
to a 17-3 Iowa advantage. Kansas has its own big play threat in the
punt game in the diminutive Patterson, who has game-changing speed.
Patterson hasn’t returned a punt for a touchdown since the
first game, though opportunities have been there, and Patterson
doesn’t need much to finish one off.
This game will be simple. Either Iowa State can control the ball, limit
mistakes and slow Kansas defensively, or the Cyclones will lose.
Offensively, Iowa State will try to run the ball and control the clock
with a possession passing game, while looking for a big play from
Sumrall. Defensively, Iowa State attempts to use zone coverage to mask
a secondary that’s mediocre in coverage.
ISU Coach Gene Chizik has transformed a lot of the attitudes around his
program, and it’s always difficult to pull a game out in
Ames. Still, barring disaster, this is a game that Kansas should win.
Iowa State 14
Kansas at Iowa State: The Matchups
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