2021 WRNL Digital Game Program V: Kansas at Iowa State
What do you say we get back on track this week?
WRNL Insights: Moving on Sideways
A loss in Waco resets the season but there are clear areas of improvement that will allow ISU to reach their goals.
Oh no. I come back from three years away and immediately wreck everything. I’m as superstitious as Matt Campbell so if we lose to Kansas this weekend I’ll go back to my cave, no questions asked.
Last weekend’s game at Baylor was certainly a let down, but analytically the team acquitted themselves better than many would have guessed. The season has a lower margin for error going forward but not all hope is lost.
On to the numbers.
SP+: 30th (Down 8)
FEI: 15th (up 7)
My best guess on the shifts in the opposite direction are a) different preseason weightings still in each model and b) heavy penalty by SP+ for not converting opportunity zone drives (inside Baylor’s 40) into touchdowns.
Brock Purdy: Brock slid back last week with 25 catchable balls on 33 attempts, of which 23 were on target. This is bound to happen when you’re pressured 16 times on 38 dropbacks and 33 attempts (42.1% pressure rate). Brock still ended the game with a slightly positive Expected Points Added (EPA) of 0.38, but it’s not nearly high enough for this team to have sustained success. For reference, Brock’s EPA in 2020 was 44.11 and he had a 0.67 EPA in last year’s Baylor game despite the three interceptions.
Offensive Line: While I believe both sacks were coverage sacks that were exacerbated by choices in the pocket, the pressures are purely on the offensive line. Let’s check in on Points Earned per Snap:
Sean Foster (LT): .047 (no change via Baylor game)
Trevor Downing (LG): .035 (.09 point drop due to Baylor)
Colin Newell (C): .032 (no change via Baylor game)
Darrell Simmons Jr. (RG): .026 (.09 point drop due to Baylor)
Derek Schweiger (RT): .015 (.05 point increase due to Baylor)
Not great and nearly all of those drops in the middle are coming on failures to block effectively in the running game. Only Simmons has a negative Points Above Avg in pass blocking. I know I said last week I did not anticipate changes to the lineup this season, but let’s see what happens coming off next week’s bye week.
Breece Hall: Stud. Enough said. This team will need to ride him for continued success, but will need to shore up the line in front of him and play calling to sustain it. Below is a breakdown of Breece’s key rushing stats based on personnel grouping on the field:
Now we’re not going to start running 10 and 11 personnel all the time just because Breece has ripped off large runs out of the formation, but it lends credence to a couple of concerns I have had.
First, 13 personnel was overused and inappropriate early in the season, but has its time and place as evidenced by the touchdown numbers. Second, keeping Charlie Kolar on the field is critical (11 personnel) but moving him around may be just as important.
For reference, Breece went 8 for 88 and 1.69 EPA in 11 personnel vs Baylor, 12 for 70 and -1.13 EPA in 12 personnel, and 6 for 18 with 2 touchdowns for 2.81 EPA 13 personnel.
SP+: 14th (no change)
FEI: 15th (down 6)
Baylor gained 45% of its available yards on Saturday, but Iowa State still finished as a net positive after gaining 61.2% of its available yards. A testament to just how dominant the Jon Heacock defense was after halftime. Similarly, Iowa State was a net positive 1.71 yards per play (7.11 vs. 5.40), but Baylor’s output was the highest this defense gave up this season.
Will McDonald: Another three pressures and a holding penalty drawn to go with a sack. Great second half for Mr. McDonald that was made all the more apparent by how neutralized he was in the first half. That’s not all his fault as Baylor’s success on 1st down kept the pass rush at bay. Once the run blitzes came in the second half it allowed this pass rush to develop later in the game.
Back 8: Really wish I had more advanced stats to breakdown here, but the data on Sports Info Solutions can be spotty at times. As I look at the rush defense stats It’s concerning only to see Greg Eisworth and Anthony Johnson Jr. popping up to show a combined 18 tackles.
For as much as I extolled on the virtues of the pass rush above, there are gaps in the run defense that continue to exist without JR Singleton in the middle sucking up two or three defenders.
SP+: 69th (up 2....somehow)
Your eyes do not deceive you. The SP+ ranking for this special teams unit actually increased two spots in rank but remained flat at 0.0 overall. Still a net neutral in that model’s “eyes”. There are a couple of contributing factors to this:
Field goals count as special teams points - obviously - and that part worked on Saturday
There are still preseason ratings weighted in so the full impact is not felt yet
Other teams had bad weeks too, which impacts the rank itself
There has been talk of a punter switch after last week but I don’t feel confident this would greatly change things unless consistency is what the staff is looking for. Andrew Mevis has 216 career punts and averages 39.8 yards per punt. Corey Dunn is averaging 40.5 yards per punt off only 70 in his career. A change here isn’t likely to bring a difference in field position on the punt alone, and would only be made if the staff feels that Mevis is consistent in placement to set the rest of the team up for success.
Follow of the Week
For those of you who haven’t done so yet, let’s give Cyclone superfan Nicholas Bassett a follow. He’s been in the hospital since last week and had to watch that unfortunate series of events in Waco from a hospital bed. Least we can do is show him some love.
SP+: 119th (106/121/53)
FEI: 120th (101/125)
Kansas ranks seven spots ahead of UNLV in SP+ with an offense eight spots higher, a defense on par, and a special teams slightly better. If this is not an absolute ass kicking by halftime we have bigger issues to worry about.
Kansas should be handled accordingly and then one of the most important bye weeks in Campbell's tenure arrives.
Will we see reshuffling along the offensive line? A different set of packages to open things up in the run game? A wide receiver other than Xavier Hutchinson emerging?
All of those questions should be addressed in some way before Brocktober kicks into high gear in Manhattan.
Betting the Big 12: Week 5
Welcome to Brocktober 2021!
By Austin Keeney
Brocktober is a month for winning. This column is coming off 3 straight winning weeks. We’re back over 50% on the season. That sure sounds like a recipe for success. Conference play is in full swing. This oracle of the Big 12 is seeing the board clearly, and I must be honest, this week’s slate is extremely hard to handicap. Let’s lean on that Brocktober magic and get back to work!
Texas (3-1) at TCU (2-1)
Kickoff: 11:00am | TV: ABC | The Line: Texas -4
A lot has been said about TCU’s 7-2 record against Texas since joining the Big 12. TCU also struggles in the week before this rivalry game. Sound familiar? Texas is not back, but they can score some points. We’re 4-0 against the spread with Texas this year. I feel like the Sark whisperer. SMU ran for about 300 yards against TCU last week. Bijan Robinson controls the game and the Longhorns win it by 2 scores.
Pick: Texas -4
#6 Oklahoma (4-0) at Kansas State (3-1)
Kickoff: 2:30pm | TV: FOX | The Line: Oklahoma -11.5
I guess the big story here is Kansas State’s uncertain QB situation. Skylar Thompson probably won’t play. Will Howard is likely the guy. Does the K-State QB matter? They always seem to play the exact same, no matter who. The question we have to ask is: will this be the week Oklahoma’s offense wakes up? I say not yet. There probably won’t be a ton of points scored here after shootouts the last 2 years, both K-State wins. Oklahoma can win the game this time around, but it’s gonna be close in Manhattan.
Pick: Kansas State +11.5
Texas Tech (3-1) at West Virginia (2-2)
Kickoff: 2:30pm | TV: ESPN2 | The Line: West Virginia -7
The year is 2021 but it could easily be 2011 or 2001. Texas Tech cannot stop anyone on defense. We just can’t feel comfortable with that. West Virginia is good at home. Leddie Brown should run all over them, and the Mountaineers cover at home.
Pick: West Virginia -7
Kansas (1-3) at Iowa State (2-2)
Kickoff: 6:00pm | TV: FS1 | The Line: Iowa State -34
Lets not overthink this. Kansas’ defense is terrible. Iowa State torched UNLV and I’m not sure that Kansas is a whole lot better than them. We’re not fading the Cyclones on the first Saturday of Brocktober.
Pick: Iowa State -34
#21 Baylor (4-0) at #19 Oklahoma State (4-0)
Kickoff: 6:00pm | TV: ESPN2 | The Line: Oklahoma State -3.5
This is probably the hardest game to handicap for the entire weekend, because both teams have been unpredictable. Oklahoma State played their cleanest game of the year last weekend. Baylor showed that they might be pretty good. Gerry Bohannon is not turning the ball over, and we know their special teams are good. This feels like a field goal game either way, so we’ll bet on the underdog.
Pick: Baylor +3.5
BEST BET FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
LSU -3 vs Auburn
Somehow people think Auburn is good. They are not. Bo Nix is not going to Baton Rouge at night and covering. This is an electric atmosphere and LSU takes care of business easily.
NFL PICK OF THE WEEKEND
Lions +3 at Bears
Look, this is coming from a Bears fan. We have a coach with a death wish to lose his job. The QB options are Nick Foles, Andy Dalton with a bad knee, and Justin Fields with Andy Dalton’s playbook. Detroit is playing hard, and should be extremely motivated to get a win after getting one stolen from them at the last second a week ago.
PROP OF THE WEEK FOR KANSAS FANS
Will Kansas score a special teams TD against Iowa State?
SEASON RECORD: 17-16 (-0.5 units)
Offensive & Defensive Players to Watch: Kansas
Does Kansas Have Two Football Players? Let’s Find Out
By Dylan Coon
SPECIAL TEAMS Yup. And you might be saying, “But Dylan, this article says ‘Offensive & Defensive players to watch’ not special teams” Well dammit I don’t care. Our defense is top notch unless it’s a scripted first drive. The Professor has only given up one touchdown in the last 9 games after halftime. Breece Hall looked like a monster, Brock, for the most part, looked fine, so how did we lose to Baylor. Boy oh boy.
I have two ways to fix the special teams. Clone Rory Walling 10 times, and just have 11 Rory Walling’s on every special teams unit, kicker, punter, long snapper, all of it. OR get Allen Lazard back here to be a gunner.
From not kicking it out of the end zone, shanking punts, missing field goals, giving up huge punt return yardage, it’s all really bad. In both of our losses the special teams unit has been abysmal. Please someone fix it before I go insane, please.
Really glad college fantasy football isn’t that big of a thing because what a roller coaster ‘Iowa State D/ST’ would be. Very high risk/reward element to that choice.
OFFENSE Ok, I promise my special teams rant is over. Kansas is coming off of a rough one against Duke. The Jayhawks were up 24-21 at halftime, and then they were outscored 31-9 in the second half. Yikers.
To answer the question I had earlier “Does Kansas have two football players?” it appears the answer is yes, but maybe just two.
Their dual-threat quarterback, Jason Bean, (Who kind of sounds like the lead character in a Jason Bourne parody movie spinoff) leads the team in both passing and rushing. He has five passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns, and two interceptions on the season. He averages 4.9 YPC, and completes just under 60% of his passes.
Iowa State’s defense has struggled against dual-threat QB’s in the pass, and without a true QB Spy linebacker, it could struggle again this weekend. However, outside of Bean, his weapons aren’t really anything to note.
They don’t have a running back over 200 rushing yards on the year, and their receiving corps doesn’t have a breakout star. If we stop the QB, we stop Kansas.
DEFENSE Kenny Logan Jr. has been the obvious candidate for Kansas defensive MVP thus far. He plays a safety/corner/everything position in the secondary, and leads the team in tackles with 34.
On top of that, he’s deflected four passes (team-high), forced two fumbles (team-high), and has recovered one(tied for team-high). So he basically leads the defense in every stat except interceptions and sacks.
Kansas has only had one interception and two sacks all season, so I don’t expect this defense to really cause too much havoc for Iowa State, but maybe just stay away from Logan Jr. and go after any of the other 10 Kansas defenders.
Let’s Go Pod-y: Kansas Jayhawks
Jer forgot to write something here
Pod: Jayhawk Slant
As you would expect during football season, the first 23 minutes of a 60 min pod is dedicated to Kansas basketball, basketball recruits, and their ‘Late Night in the Phog’ featuring I didn’t know they were still alive rappers: Run-DMC this year btw.
I was going to feature the pod from SbN sister site RockChalkTalk, but it turns out their Iowa State preview was mostly a guest from WRNL (Levi Stevenson) talking about how terrible it is to be cursed with a name like Levi. It’s an alright pod outside of that though, you should listen.
On the Duke Game
“I saw some good things honestly”
“Duke’s got a pretty nice offense … and up to the 3rd quarter Kansas is right in that football game”
“[Kansas] is fighting, they’re playing hard … offensive line looks much better”
“Unfortunately, every defense Kansas plays from here on out is probably going to be better than Duke”
On Big 12 Play
“[Kansas] still doesn’t have Big 12 depth … the 2nd halves are gonna be tough”
On Iowa State
“This weekend in Ames is going to be a real tall order … I don’t like this matchup”
“Somehow Baylor found a way to win the game, I think Iowa State was the better football team … sometimes the better team just doesn’t win”
“Combine [the loss to Baylor], going back home to Ames … a bad taste in their mouth from two early losses ... this is going to be a tough game for the Jayhawks”
On Charlie Kolar
“The Kolar kid might be as good as [a TE] comes. I think he’s headed for a 1st round draft pick”
On Recruiting the State of Kansas
“Iowa State has stocked the roster with a lot of guys from Kansas and Kansas City, a lot of talent that Kansas has to deal with this weekend”
Pick a Score
“I’m not even gonna pick a score, Iowa State is the better football team, they’ll be ready to play”
“I’m not picking a score either, this is the wrong team at the absolute wrong time. They are angry, they are like a wounded animal, this is an Iowa State team with a lot of pride who is reeling. I honestly expect Iowa State to come out like a bunch of wild dogs”
Authors note: Let’s please just beat Kansas by a million.
WRNL Interrogates: Rock Chalk Talk
What do the Jayhawks have to offer?
We talked to Andy Mitts of Rock Chalk Talk this past week to get his thoughts on Kansas. After we forced him to watch all the games from the past few years, here is what he had to say.
1- Lance Leipold is off to a 1-3 start as the Jayhawks coach which some may say is not a huge surprise considering what he inherited. Though, there seems to be some hope on the horizon. What is the biggest thing from the coaching staff that has you looking towards the future?
It has to just be the track record. There is a nice blend of old staff that knows these players and was successful on the recruiting trail and developing the players they were responsible for, and new staff that has shown the ability to create a consistent message and trajectory. If you ask Kansas fans, there doesn’t seem to be a worry about IF Leipold and staff will be able to get the program turned around, it’s just a question of HOW LONG it will take. Add in a new AD in Travis Goff, and it’s pretty clear that the cancerous athletic situation that was at the top of the football program has been rooted out.
Additionally, Kansas fans have to be encouraged by how far this team has come in the short time that the staff has been together. They are learning brand new schemes, protections, playbooks, everything, and with basically only summer practices, they have fielded a team that is arguably more competent than the one they had last year.
2- Biggest strength and weakness of this Kansas team?
I’ll give you two of each, one that is pretty obvious and another that is kind of surprising. For strengths, the obvious one is the running backs. Even without the threat of Velton Gardner, Devin Neal has been sensational so far and only looks to get better, and Torry Locklin is getting more and more run as a different type of back than Neal. There is depth at the position too, with several guys that can step in if needed. As for the surprise one, it’s actually the QB position. Jason Bean has shown a LOT of ability, and his propensity to run makes him a dangerous weapon. Last week’s game with Duke has shown that he has more to his game than his legs though, and I fully expect him to get better as the season goes on and he gets more comfortable with the additional schemes. Plus, Jalon Daniels and Miles Kendrick are capable backups that can come in and make something happen if needed.
For weaknesses, the obvious one is the offensive line. While it’s better than last year, the line is one place where it takes a LONG time to overcome poor talent and coaching. We are seeing improvements, but it’s going to be a weakness for quite a while still. The surprise is just how bad the defense as a whole has been, especially against the run game. I’m not sure why it’s been such a big problem, whether it’s LB positioning, lack of a push by the DL, or something else, but it’s been bad.
3- Give us one player that Iowa State fans will know of by the end of this game that they didn’t know when it started.
On offense, keep an eye out for Trevor Wilson. A transfer from Buffalo, he has quickly become a Bean favorite when it comes to long passing plays.
On defense, you’ll want to watch OJ Burroughs. He has at least two big hits in each game so far, and he has a knack for poking the ball out.
4- How could Kansas pull off an upset on Saturday?
It’s going to take lots of ISU mistakes, or a Herculean effort by the offense. If ISU keeps turning the ball over and/or gives up some huge returns on ST (both of which are possible), then Kansas can stay in this game. But to get over the hump, KU has to find a way to move the ball consistently against that defense, even if they have to settle for field goals. Keeping that ISU defense on the field early can pay huge dividends late, both by keeping pressure on ISU that may lead to some offensive mistakes and by pumping up the confidence for the KU offense.
5- So you will be at the game Saturday? What’s your prediction?
I’m probably going to have to bring an “I AM SAD” sign, because I’m having a hard time seeing Kansas staying in this game. Sure, they can get some big plays over the course of the game, but unless they can score quickly and often in the opening half, Iowa State is going to be super comfortable after half. It’s a good thing I’m going to the game to experience the atmosphere and not because I’m expecting a Kansas win, no matter how much trash I talk on the Discord. Give me Iowa State 34, Kansas 17.
2021 Tailgate Preview: Kansas
Saturday Night Lights
By Meg A. Tron
Weather - Cool with rain chances
As of today, rain is in the forecast for what otherwise looks like a perfect evening for a football game. Grab your favorite ISU sweatshirt and a raincoat and hope for the best. Maybe if we all wish and hope real hard, the rain will hold off and we’ll just get to enjoy a cozy, cool night under the lights at JTS. That will probably work, huh? Because Iowa State fans always get the things they hope for, right?
Food - Tailgate Sliders
I’m sure you’ve had the ham and swiss version of these little guys, which are easy and delicious, but there are many varieties that are sure to be a hit for your hungry friends and family. They are easy to throw together, they’re just as good (maybe better?) at room temperature, and can feed a crowd. The french dip version is a family favorite, but I’ve got my eye on that pizza one…
Here’s a round up of some slider recipes:
Drink - Pumpkin Beer
It’s my favorite beer drinking time of year. The shelves are full of pumpkin beers and Octoberfests and that makes for a very happy Megatron. My recommendation this week is to head to Hy-Vee and build your own 6 packs of fall beers. Some of my personal favorites are O’Fallon (they have several varieties), Lefthand Oktoberfest, Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Wheat, Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale, and good old Sam Adams Octoberfest. Fall beers are a nice comfort drink to soothe your aching Cyclone heart. Trust me.
Game - Giant Jenga
Why giant Jenga, you ask? Well, because I’m undefeated. Bring. It. On.
Here’s a cute set if you’re in the market. There’s also some fun ideas out there to spice up the game (like Drunk Jenga and Jenga with Shots) that will be a blast if we’re not all huddled under an awning while it pours.
Song - “Devil’s Right Hand”
Is this a hype song? No. High energy? Not really. In any way related to football? Nope. But I love it and it makes me happy and I hope it makes you happy, too.
2021 Game V: Iowa State vs. Kansas Football Preview
Let’s get back on track.
2021 Game V: Iowa State (2-2, 0-0) vs. Kansas (1-3, 0-1)
Date: Saturday, October 2nd, 2021
Time: 6:00PM CST
Location: Jack Trice Stadium
Line: ISU (-33)
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
SB Nation Website - Rock Chalk Talk
When we last left off....
You ever have those days where you just relive some of your past mistakes and everything just snowballs from there? Well, that was Iowa State’s day on Saturday. The Cyclones cost themselves in Waco with mental errors and special teams miscues. One of the biggest mistakes being a Baylor 98-yard touchdown return, right after the Cyclones grabbed a ton of momentum.
And then - a bad punt, go figure. Baylor was gifted some great field position and converted a field goal from it. Iowa State would have scored with minimal time left in the game but failed on their 2 point conversion after a botched snap. Ultimately the Cyclones would drop the Big 12 opener, 31-29.
Lance Leipold is in his first season as the Jayhawks coach. Leipold was hired in April after the firing of Les Miles earlier in the year. Leipold had an overall record of 37-33 at Buffalo and was previously at Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Leipold brought most of his staff with him from Buffalo. Including Offensive Coordinator Andy Kotelnicki and Defensive Coordinator Brian Borland. Both have been with Leipold since his first year at Buffalo.
The Jayhawks currently have a 1-3 record on the 2021 season. Their lone victory game over South Dakota where the Jayhawks scored late to win. Their losses came at the hands of Baylor, Duke, and Coastal Carolina.
Currently, Kansas leads the all-time series 50-44-6. Iowa State currently holds a 6 game win streak in the series, the longest of the series. The largest margin of victory in the series is 45 which came in a 45-0 victory for Iowa State in 2017.
Iowa State Offense
Contrary to popular recent belief, the Iowa State offense has steadily improved. You might have to look a little harder, but the improvement is there. Is the improvement fully to the level of 2020? Not yet. Now it’s a matter of finishing drives off. Saturday brings another opportunity for this team and staff to find ways to get better.
First Key to Victory - Find The End Zone
Having some reliable kickers is nice and all, but Iowa State needs to finish drives with touchdowns. Miscues and mental errors in some have kept Iowa State from finishing drives all season long and already have cost them 2 losses on the year. While they are not out of the Big 12 race, if they wish to stay in the middle of it they need to put the ball in the end zone.
Breece Hall had his best game of the season last Saturday, despite the loss. The Cyclone star rushed the ball 27 times for 190 yards and 2 touchdowns. The yards per carry are jumping up as well as Hall has been able to find more space as of late. If Iowa State wants to continue to see this offense steadily improve, Breece Hall is key to that happening.
Though it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for the improvement. Iowa State’s offensive line has not played up to the level of 2020 and in some cases they have seemed to take a step back. According to Pro Football Focus, none of the Iowa State starters on the offensive line are rated above 100 at their respected positions. Now you can take that for what it’s worth with Pro Football Focus, but it’s certainly an area of improvement I have noticed Iowa State needs to work on.
If you have a beating heart and at least one functioning eyeball, you have probably scored on this Kansas defense. The only team the Jayhawks could really hold at bay to start the 2021 season is South Dakota and that isn’t exactly something to brag about.
The Jayhawks are allowing over 7 yards per play, just under 6 on the ground and over 11 through the air. Overall defensively they are ranked 128th in the country. This defense just does not have the horse to compete yet and Lance Leipold is going to have a mountain to climb to build this team up defensively.
Kansas has gone nine quarters without recording a sack and has a total of two on the year. Only two other FBS schools have fewer. Iowa State has allowed just five sacks. With the limited amount of pass rush generated by the Jayhawks this certainly may be an opportunity for Brock Purdy to get his game right before the bye week.
The star of the defense is Junior safety Kenny Logan Jr. leads the team in tackles this season with 37. He ranks second in the Big 12 in tackles per game and 23rd nationally. So far this season, he has 23 solo tackles and 14 assists. Logan is the only player nationally who has at least 35 tackles, four pass breakups and multiple forced fumbles on the season.
The Verdict - Iowa State
While the Iowa State offense hasn’t quite been where they want it to be, the Kansas defense is in far worse shape. Iowa State should fire on cylinders and be able to put up some points in this one. They key to watch is going to be the offensive line and how they improve in this one. While we’re at it, let’s get Breece Hall to 200 yards rushing just for fun.
Iowa State Defense
(all stats provided by Sports Info Solutions)
Finally, for the first time the entire season, the Iowa State defense struggled. Well, at least for a few possessions. And by struggle, I really mean “play ultra-conservative as a means to feel out the opposing offense.” Then, the defense very much did not struggle after halftime, allowing just three offensive points and less than eighty total yards.
Essentially this game followed the exact playbook we’ve seen from Jon Heacock since the defensive transformation in 2017. Sit back for a little bit to get a feel for what your opponent is trying to do, make a couple of quick adjustments at halftime, then absolutely ruin the lives of everybody on the other side of the ball.
Last week, Baylor was simply very good at taking advantage of those early possessions through some creative playcalling, outstanding plays by Gerry Bohanon, and their wide zone attack, which is an emerging trend in college football.
The Cyclone defense has been nothing short of elite this season, generating pressure on 38% of passing plays and sacks on 13%, all out of three down linemen front. Obviously, a huge part of this goes to Will McDonald, who continues to draw multiple holding penalties per game, leads the team in sacks, and has now forced a fumble on one of those sacks. He’s one of the most dominant defensive forces in college football right now, bar none.
Beyond the pass rush though, the Cyclones boast a stout 3.0 yards per carry average, 26.3% stuff rate, and just a 7.6% broken + missed tackle rate. Simply put, It’s really hard to run on Iowa State, and they rarely missed tackles. And as you can see on film, most broken tackles are followed shortly by more Cyclones flying to the ball.
(all stats provided by Sports Info Solutions)
To put it simply, Kansas has really struggled to move the ball this season. QB Jason Bean is completing 57% of his passes (with just a 67% on target rate). The running game isn’t much prettier. Kansas averages 3.9 yards per carry, and gets hit at the line of scrimmage on 49.7% of rushes.
Second Key to Victory - Contain Jason Bean
Bean is a true dual-threat guy, leading the team in carries with fifty-five, and averaging around 4.9 yards per attempt. He’s really a boom-or-bust runner that’s reliant on finding space and using his speed to do damage. Bean sports a 14.5% boom rate and an 18.2% bust rate, which looks like an absolute rollercoaster compared Breece Hall’s 8% boom rate and 6.9% bust rate. If you contain Jason Bean, Kansas’ big-play potential goes away pretty quickly.
KU actually does spread the ball around to a few different receivers, with Kwamie Lassier II, Trevor Wilson, and Lawrence Arnold eating up most of the targets, though Trevor Wilson is seeing just a 52.2% completion percentage on his targets (though that makes sense when you account for his average depth of target being 13.1 yards and his drop rate of 13.3%).
The Verdict - Iowa State
This is easily the largest gap between matchups on the field. Outside of Jason Bean or RB Devin Neal busting off a big run, this Kansas team has done basically nothing on offense. In contrast, Iowa State’s defense has been one of the best in the country for the entire season.
I don’t know if we’ll see much in the way of turnovers since Kansas doesn’t actually turn the ball over an unusual amount, and Iowa State doesn’t typically press the issue of forcing turnovers. However, barring something totally outrageous, I would guess Kansas maybe sees a little bit of success early in the game on a few read options, but looks totally lost by halftime.
There just isn’t a lot of evidence to suggest that Kansas is about to suddenly find their stride on offense against the best defense they’ll play the entire season.
Iowa State has some special team issues, still. At this point, I feel like a broken record writing this portion of the game previews because I don’t think in any of our previews to this date we have been overly optimistic about Iowa State having the edge in special teams.
Iowa State had a kickoff returned for a touchdown and a short punt that allowed great field position for Baylor late in the game. Andrew Mevis also missed one field goal on the afternoon. It’s like a bad dream that keeps on happening.
Third Key To Victory - KICK THE BALL FARTHER
The Verdict- Even
Fortunately for this game, I don’t envision special teams playing a huge role in the final outcome. Iowa State should have the edges in special teams here, but I don’t have the guts to make that call. So will make a coward decision on this one. GIVE US SOME SPECIAL TEAMS HOPE!
Winning Scale from 1 to 10
Iowa State needs to get back in stride and find its way. Kansas is a team on the opposite end of the field right now and that couldn’t come at a more perfect time.
I am willing to bet the mortgage on this one and risk the house. The Cyclones are taking this one all day and night. Bet ya house!
Night game in Jack Trice and Iowa State fans need another feel-good moment for 2021. Unfortunately for Kansas, I think they are going to be the casualty for our happiness.
Iowa State - 45
AHF Featured Farm: Black Farms
Actually Helping Farmers.
By Aiden Wyatt
Here at Wide Right & Natty Lite, we do our best to Actually Help Farmers, and since we couldn’t afford stickers on a helmet with zero other purpose, we decided that we would make an effort to support Iowa farmers in another way.
In our AHF Featured Farm Project, we will honor one family farm each week of an Iowa State home game. We are searching for farms in Iowa (or outside) that bring passion to the fields, both football and corn. Every nominated farm will have the option to purchase a custom shirt featuring their farm logo, and our AHF logo on the back (click here to buy the Black Farms AHF shirt). 50% of all shirt sales will go towards Practical Farmers of Iowa and the Farm Crisis Center in efforts to Actually Help Farmers.
This week, I spoke with Brad Black of Black Farms. Black Farms is located outside of Barnum, Iowa, 20 miles west of Fort Dodge. Gene Black started the 3,000-acre farm, which is now run by Brad, Dean, and Perry Black. Black Farms used to raise hogs along with corn and soybeans, but now the only livestock is owned by Dean Black, who has cattle. Brad, the 3rd generation farmer said, “We all just help each other out and do what needs to be done to get the job done.”
Why are they Iowa State fans? “Born and bred.” Gene attended ISU, as well as Perry, both belonging to the AGR house. The Black’s have always been Iowa State fans, even through the tough years, “We’ve supported Iowa State for as long as I can remember.”
To Black Farms, actually helping farmers means “Actually supporting farmers, by supporting the organizations that educate them. Not only through the Iowa State Extension services, which is among the best in the nation,...being able to use real world, applicable donations.” Black Farms actually helps farmers, and they have a lot of pride while doing it.
Special thanks to the Black Family for their partnership and for Actually Helping Farmers!
Have a family farm or know someone actually helping farmers? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured!