In last year’s shocking upset, Oklahoma State struggled to stop the run. Five teams, including Iowa State, finished far below the others in giving up over 180 yards on the ground. The Cowboys were the highest in that group.
Shamiel Gary is one of the many players the Cyclones will have to watch for in a junior-led squad that doesn’t have a standout defender. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-US PRESSWIRE
This season, most teams have been generally better so far (of course Texas is not included as one of those squads). But in general, the same weaknesses plague this team from a season ago.
- Passing: 6th in conference, 75th nationally
- Rushing: 7th in conference, 44th nationally
- Scoring: 6th in conference, 75th nationally
Has there been any improvement on the defense from a season ago?
Sort of. They’ve been hit with the run more than every team in the Big 12 except Baylor and they’ve given up nearly 300 yards less than the Bears. They are not on pace to give up nearly as many rushing yards as they did a season ago. Since Iowa State hasn’t reached the level of their running attack from a year ago, there shouldn’t be as much domination as a season ago. That being said, nothing has really stood out with Oklahoma State’s defense.
Where does Iowa State match up the best?
This year, it’s the passing game. If you take away the noncompetitive Savannah State team, the Cowboys have given up 275.25 yards in the air with a 61 percent efficiency average and seven total touchdowns in the last four games. That’s not good, and the better teams finished at even higher amounts. The defense hasn’t been able to get to many quarterbacks either, giving Jared Barnett some more time to get comfortable in the pocket, or he will have more room to scramble and make a play with his feet.
Which players should the Cyclones watch for?
Due to the defense being generally young with many junior players, there hasn’t been a standout guy to watch out for. Probably the biggest impact on the passing game could be junior safety Shamiel Gary, who’s broken up two passes (leads a lot of players at that position) and is solid at making the open-field tackle. 19 of his 24 total tackles are solo.
What is one key area to watch on the field?
The Cyclones in the red zone. Iowa State has scored 15 times in 20 opportunities, but both Steele Jantz and Barnett squandered away opportunities inside the 20 yard line with turnovers. Only once has any team failed to score on Oklahoma State’s red zone defense.
Brian Spaen is the lead editor for Clones Confidential. Keep up with the latest sports fails and disdain toward the Big Ten by following him on Twitter.