We caught up with Paul Clark from Cyclone Report to give his take from the Iowa State side on tomorrow's game.
Describe how Iowa State used the two quarterback system last week in Norman?
What we saw in the Oklahoma game is what was teased throughout the off-season and right through pre-season camp in August as well, in terms of double duty for Joel Lanning. The senior played 13 snaps at quarterback in addition to 57 at linebacker. He had only taken a couple of QB snaps total in ISU's first four games as Cyclone coaches chose not to overload him and take away from his performance on defense.
But with starting quarterback Jacob Park on leave and Kyle Kempt being a first-time starter in his place, the Iowa State staff felt it had to integrate Lanning into the offensive game plan. For the Kansas game this week, look for Kempt to be the starter and get most of the snaps with Lanning also playing some QB as needed. If the offense is working fine without using Lanning, those plans might be scuttled. But if the Cyclones need to change things up some on offense, a package for Lanning will almost surely be available.
When the Iowa State offense is clicking what is their strengths and who are the top play-makers?
If the Texas game can be excluded as an anomaly, Iowa State has been somewhat balanced on offense. The Cyclones usually follow the creed of establishing a running game and David Montgomery is averaging 82 yards per game and five yards per carry as the feature back. Montgomery is tough to bring down and is among the national leaders in broken tackles and yards after tackle.
While ISU gets most of its yardage via the pass, it needs to run the ball effectively enough to keep opposing defenses honest. The Cyclone offense and game plan didn't change a lot with Kempt replacing Park as both are pro-style QBs that don't run the ball a lot. Kempt completed 75% of his attempts at Oklahoma and did not put the ball in harm's way at all.
ISU has a lot of options at receiver, including All-American candidate Allen Lazard plus guys like Hakeem Butler, Marchie Murdock, Trever Ryen and Deshaunte Jones. Opposing defenses can't give Lazard too much attention because of the other options available.
What kind of scheme do the Cyclones use on defense and who are the players to watch?
Iowa State is a base 4-3 team, but it has multiple variations depending on opponent as well as down and distance. The Cyclones have played a little bit of 3-4 as well and will often be in more of a 4-2-5 on passing downs or against passing teams. It utilizes flex hybrid athletes in alternating between a "SAM" linebacker and "STAR" defensive back depending on situation.
Against a potent offense like Oklahoma's, the Cyclones played relatively conservative and focused on good tackling and not allowing big plays; it was successful. Even though OU rolled up over 500 yards, it only scored seven points in the second half and 31 overall.
Iowa State has attacked more defensively when the situation allows it so they will probably be more aggressive against the Jayhawks. Lanning and Willie Harvey make a lot of tackles from their linebacker positions. Ray Lima anchors the defensive line at nose guard and the secondary is led by safety Kamari Cotton-Moya and cornerback Brian Peavy.
If you were a coordinator how would you attack the offense and defense?
Kempt was sensational at Oklahoma, but now there is film on him, so opposing defenses can begin to get specific in stopping him. OU didn't pressure him much so I would definitely come after him with creative blitzes from different angles to see how he responds, alternating with only rushing three at times and making him work through progressions to find an open man with eight dropping in coverage.
Against the run, try to shoot some gaps and get to Montgomery before he gets going, and making sure the second and third guys don't assume the first guy has him. Offensively, you have to be two-dimensional and not allow Iowa State to be able to key on run or pass. They are good enough defensively if they can cheat a little, but still spread a little thin if they have to play both straight up. Throw to backs and tight ends to make the linebackers prove they can cover.
What kind of job has Campbell done in your opinion and what was the shape of the program in when he took over?
It's so far so good for Campbell and his staff. The record is 6-11 since the start of the 2016 season, but Iowa State has been involved in a number of close games in that span and until the OU game this past week, it had struggled to come out on top.
Winning a close game was as much a part of the storyline in Norman as was the fact it was the No. 3 team in the country. Prior to that, the 31-24 Kansas game last fall in Lawrence had been Campbell's only one-score win at ISU. The Cyclone staff has done a very good job of selling its vision on the recruiting trail and needs to show results that align with that.
It's also a staff that seems to embrace recruiting and meeting prospects where they are in terms of the use of technology, communications and media.
The cupboard was far from bare when Campbell took over; there are a lot of juniors and seniors all over the field that he inherited. His main challenge has been to change what he calls the culture, almost an expectation that things aren't going to go well and that it's a losing battle. Campbell has probably done more to rehab ISU players mentally and emotionally than he has physically.
What is your take on the game and your prediction?
Kansas is good enough offensively that the game could turn into a track meet. That's probably the one thing Iowa State really has to avoid: letting the game get too wild where the offenses are going up and down the field and the defenses can't get themselves established.
The Cyclones haven't been turning the ball over much this year and I would expect that to continue. As long as ISU takes care of the football, it should be okay. But a couple of takeaways could really ignite the Jayhawks. As long as Iowa State isn't suffering from a celebration hangover coming off the Oklahoma win, it should be fine and win by a couple of scores at home.