AMES, Iowa — Heading into Saturday's game on the road against Iowa State, the Red Raiders have plenty of questions to answer coming off the heels of a 144-yard offensive performance against Texas and a subsequent bye week. The good news is that Texas Tech will face another stingy defense with ties to Auburn. Much like Will Muschamp, Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads coached under Tommy Tuberville at Auburn.
In taking over a program that won just five games under Gene Chizik, expectations for Rhoads were not very high. Rhoads ignored the naysayers and finished 7-6 with a win in the Insight Bowl following the 2009 season. Rhoads will have Iowa State ready to play against Texas Tech.
Iowa State Passing:
Senior Austen Arnaud is nursing a shoulder injury but is expected to start against the Red Raiders. For the season, Arnaud is 63-109 for 590 yards with two TDs and five INTs. Backup Jerome Tiller is 11-23 for 87 yards in limited action this year.
Iowa State Rushing
The ground game is the lifeblood of Iowa State's offense, and for good reason. Senior Alexander Robinson is a dynamic runner and paces the rushing attack with 64 carries for 301 yards with three scores. QB Arnaud is next on the list with 36 rushes for 109 yards and one score. No other Cyclone has reached the end zone on a rushing play.
Iowa State Receiving
Senior TE Collin Franklin leads Iowa State's receivers with 15 receptions for 152 yards but no scores. Darius Darks, a junior from Austin, has 12 catches for 114 yards and one score. Senior Jake Williams has seven catches for 64 yards and the other Cyclone TD. Senior Sedrick Johnson is a reliable target with his 12 grabs and RB Robinson has 100 yards receiving on his 12 grabs.
Texas Tech Passing
Taylor Potts is 77-122 for 810 yards with eight TDs and two INTs. Potts wasn't on the same page as his wide receivers a few times in the Texas game and the experienced Longhorn secondary took advantage. Iowa State represents Potts' first true road test of the season. Fans will soon know if the bye week benefitted Tech's signal caller. Backup Steven Sheffield is 2-8 for 17 yards on the season.
Texas Tech Rushing
The talent at tailback is plentiful with Baron Batch and Eric Stephens. Behind them are Aaron Crawford and Harrison Jeffers. The onus is on the offensive coordinator and the offensive line to give this quartet room to work. There are not many teams in the country that have more skill at RB than Texas Tech. This week's game is on the road against an aggressive defense, and it would be an ideal time for the Red Raiders ground game to start clicking. Batch leads the team with 32 carries for 121 yards (3.8 per touch) and two scores. Stephens is next with 23 rushes for 88 yards (3.8 per carry) and also two TDs. Harrison Jeffers has seven totes for 43 yards (6.3 per rush) and no scores. Aaron Crawford adds four touches for 15 yards (3.8 per carry) and no scores. QB Sheffield has the other rushing score for Texas Tech.
Texas Tech Receiving
Lyle Leong leads Tech in receiving with 20 catches for 251 yards and six trips to pay dirt. Detron Lewis is right on his heels with 15 grabs for 165 and one score. Jacoby Franks has 14 catches for 128 yards, but no TDs. As a matter of fact, Austin Zouzalik has the only other score from the wideouts — a 55-yard play early in the UNM game that signaled the beginning of a long evening for Lobos fans. The good news is that last year's leading receiver, Alex Torres, continues to heal and should be getting close to being fully healthy. Torres is a great player and he opens things up for other receivers and the run game as well.
Off the Cuff Thoughts
Through three games, it would be nice to see better numbers from the entire offensive unit. But, while Tech is running a spread offense, this isn't Mike Leach's offense. Offensive coordinator Neal Brown needs a fair chance to install his version of the spread offense (his Troy team finished 2009 ranked 4th in total offense with 6,314 yards).
Prediction: Texas Tech: 31, Iowa State: 17