Breakdown: Iowa State

The Red Raiders bounced back last week with a resounding 75-7 win over Northwestern State at Jones AT&T Stadium. This week, the Iowa State Cyclones will be in town to provide a tougher test for the new defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill. RaiderPower breaks down both sides of the ball to see where each team has an advantage.

- OFFENSE -

QUARTERBACK
Advantage: Texas Tech

The Red Raider's signal caller Graham Harrell has been phenomenal this year, amassing 2301 yards and 24 touchdowns with only two interceptions. Harrell also boasts an outstanding 71.9% completion rate, which is even more impressive when you take his 267 pass attempts into consideration.

Senior QB Bret Meyer, who is a four year starter for Iowa State, has had a disappointing season so far with only four TDs and eight interceptions in five games. He has been more effective on the ground, rushing for 195 yards and 1 td. The Red Raider D will need to keep an eye on the mobile QB to ensure that he doesn't break loose for any big gains.

The Cyclones' head coach Gene Chizik has emphasized the role turnovers have played in their 4 losses. "I think that one word can really describe every loss – turnovers. They play a huge role in why we're 1-4. I've said it since the beginning: I think the game is real simple - you get turnovers and you don't give the ball up and you've got a chance to win." Meyer will have to improve on his TD to turnover ratio for Iowa State to have a chance to keep it close.
 

RUNNING BACK
Advantage: Iowa State

The Red Raider RBs Shannon Woods and Kobey Lewis continue to share reps and are playing solid, but because of opposing defenses' inability to cover the pass, neither one has huge numbers on the ground. True freshman Aaron Crawford also got in the game last week, and impressed Coach Leach, who hinted that he'll be seeing more playing time if he continues doing well in practice.

Expect to see more of Jason Scales, who was relegated to 2nd string after Jamicah Bass transferred in from JUCO, but stepped up last week after Bass had to be pulled due to a shoulder injury. Scales scored both Cyclone TDs and rushed for 115 yards on 31 carries in the loss to Nebraska. Bass' status is questionable this week, but after the way Oklahoma State's Dantrell Savage ran the ball down Tech's throats after coming back from an injury, the Red Raiders need to be prepared in case Bass is cleared to play.
 

WIDE RECEIVER
Advantage: Texas Tech

Tech's WR corps is also playing well, and while fans can't seem to get enough of freshmen phenom Michael Crabtree, the Red Raiders showed just how loaded they are at the receiving position last Saturday. Freshmen Lyle Leong and Detron Lewis both saw significant playing time and made the most of it, with Lewis scoring on both of his receptions and Leong adding another TD.

QB Graham Harrell had the following to say about the two talented receivers. "I thought they did really, really well. Lyle [Leong] is a great player… He goes and gets the ball, he has probably better hands than anyone on the team, honestly, and he doesn't ever drop balls. Detron [Lewis],being a true freshman and going in there and getting two touchdowns, that was impressive as well. I think the young guys are good and I'm glad they're on our team because it looks good for the next couple of years. It's good to know they're ready to play and they're going to be a special unit as well."

While the Cyclones' receivers haven't put up the gaudy numbers Texas Tech has, they have the ability to play well when they get on a roll. At 6'5", 209 lbs., senior Todd Blythe is a solid receiver who has the ability to punish defenders if they give him too much cushion. R.J. Sumrall, who also runs track for the Cyclones, is one of the fastest players on the team and has 28 receptions on the year, although he has yet to find the end zone.
 

OFFENSIVE LINE
Advantage: Texas Tech

Tech's young O-line has continued to block well, as they have only given up three sacks in five games and have given Harrell plenty of time to go through his reads. After an injury in last week's game, right guard Brandon Carter has been practicing all week and is expected to play Saturday. Marlon Winn will be taking over the starting job at right tackle, a position formerly occupied by Jake Johnson.

Iowa State O-line is also young and not very deep, but they have played relatively well so far this season. They've given up five sacks on the year and have done a good job with rush blocking up to this point. Offensive line coach Robert McFarland stated that his unit has played well so far and explained, "Only one [sack] has been because of a missed assignment. The others have been where somebody got beat, or we didn't execute what we were supposed to have executed."
 

- DEFENSE -

DEFENSIVE LINE
Advantage: Texas Tech

Neither defensive lines are world beaters, but Texas Tech has been able to consistently pressure quarterbacks this season.  The Red Raiders have tallied up 12 sacks in just 5 games this season, which is a big improvement over previous years.  Sophomore defensive end Brandon Williams had a break out game last week, racking up 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for a loss.

The star of the Iowa State defensive line is junior Kurtis Taylor, who leads them in sacks and is 3rd on the team for QB hurries.  Taylor is the only big threat on the Cyclone defensive line, so if the young Tech offensive line can keep him check, it will be a step in the right direction.
 

LINEBACKERS
Advantage: Iowa State

This is where Iowa State really shines, especially with senior Alvin Bowen.  Bowen is built more like a safety than a linebacker at 6'2 and 218 pounds, but he is extremely fast and a phenomenal hitter.  Last season he led the entire NCAA in tackles per game and he is playing just as well this year.  Opposite Bowen is outside linebacker Jon Banks, who is also very quick and able to penetrate into the backfield.

The Texas Tech linebacking corps looked much improved last Saturday, but it is hard to tell if it is a result of new defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill, or the lack of talent on the Northwestern State sideline.  They will receive a solid test from the Cyclones, who run a balanced offense that will test them on the ground and through the air.
 

SECONDARY
Advantage: Iowa State

Iowa State will provide the first real test for Mike Leach's air raid offense with their versatile linebackers and solid secondary.  The Cyclones are 4th in the Big 12 in passing defense, allowing only 179 yards per game through the air.  Junior defensive back Chris Singleton has been all over the field, picking off a pair of passes and showing that he is one of Iowa State's better tacklers.

Similar to the linebackers, the Texas Tech secondary played a great game against Northwestern State, but they weren't facing a very stiff challenge.  They held the Demons to only 103 yards, which is very good no matter whom you are facing.  Iowa State will be a bigger test, especially with big wide receiver Todd Blythe who has been terrorizing defenses since he set foot in Ames.
 


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