NOTEBOOK: Wide receivers, third downs weaken ISU defense


Photo: Shane Tully/ Iowa State Daily

Jarvis West runs the football in for a touchdown on Nov. 3, 2012 at Jack Trice Stadium against the Oklahoma Sooners.

Stephen Koenigsfeld

Wide receivers are known for making leaping, diving, spectacular catches. They’re known for one-handed grabs and game-winning touchdowns.

But the threat Oklahoma’s wide receivers played with on Saturday in their 35-20 victory against Iowa State was much different.

The No. 12 Sooners (6-2, 4-1 Big 12) were able to rush 40 times for 188 yards and one touchdown. The main reason for this: receiver blocking down field. 

“It was tough, from my perspective,” said senior linebacker A.J. Klein. “They were running a lot of three-man side and a lot of backside. We just have to be more physical getting off blocks.”

ISU coach Paul Rhoads said what helped OU receivers block so well was their sheer height and size.

“It’s a big football team in every position you want to look at, whether it’s skill or on the line,” said coach Paul Rhoads. “They played to the level of their physical talents.”

The ISU wide receivers had their moments of glory, too. Jarvis West scored his fourth career touchdown — the other three from last week against Baylor — on a reverse play in the third quarter. It was also his first career rushing touchdown.

“[He is] another guy that is a reflection of our program,” Rhoads said of West. “A younger player that’s developing and starting to step up and be productive.”

Wide receiver Quenton Bundrage was Iowa State’s leading receiver with four receptions for 44 yards. Bundrage lamented the offense for having to settle for field goals twice after two key interceptions in the second quarter.

“Field goals aren’t bad, but we love touchdowns,” Bundrage said. “We’ll take any points we can get, but as an offense we need to score touchdowns more.”

Josh Lenz also made his debut after injuring his quadriceps in mid-October. 

Rhoads said he admired Lenz’s ability to play through the pain, and is still waiting to see him back in full health. 

“[Lenz did] just okay. He’s not at full strength, but [he] wanted to play,” Rhoads said. “You admire the courage and seniors step up in their final year.”

Lenz was able to contribute with one catch for 25 yards.

What hindered the Cyclones more than the Sooners’ wide receiver blocking schemes was their inability to stop third-down conversions.

Oklahoma was able to convert on third-downs nine out of 14 tries and once out of two tries on the fourth-down. Iowa State was only five for 14 on third-down conversions. 

In order to win games, Klein said the defense will need to keep the opponent’s third-down percentage to less than 50 percent. 

Klein gave a lot of credit to OU quarterback Landry Jones and his ability to convert against the ISU defense. 

“We have to be better in our zone defense and our man-to-man — whatever we are in, we just have to take [the pass] away,” Klein said.