Iowa State gears up for Red Raider duel

Tommy Birch

Cyclones cornerback Allen Bell knows it’s coming – he just doesn’t know where.

Bell and his Cyclone teammates will travel to Texas Tech on Saturday for a matchup with a Red Raider team that ranks first in the nation in passing offense. While he’s spent the week preparing for their passing game, he just doesn’t know where to look for it.

“From what I’ve seen of Texas Tech, they’re going to throw it deep, they’re going to throw it short – everywhere on the field possible – every play,” Bell said. “We’re going to have to be a little bit more prepared to stop it.”

The Cyclones (1-4, 0-1) must stop every aspect of the Red Raider’s (4-1, 0-1) offense. Running back Shannon Woods has rushed 269 yards for seven touchdowns. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree has caught 60 passes for 920 yards and 14 touchdowns. Most of all, Iowa State will have to contain junior quarterback Graham Harrell, who has completed 192-of-267 passes for 2,301 yards and

24 touchdowns this season. Harrell and the Red Raiders have thrown 2,618 yards in their first five games.

“He’s in a system right now that certainly magnifies, if you’re a good quarterback,” said coach Gene Chizik. “It magnifies all your skills because they’re going to throw it 70 times, 60 times a game, whatever it is, but he’s got it down right now. He’s really good.”

What Chizik hopes will go down is the Red Raiders’ offense. In their first five games this season, Texas Tech is averaging 55.4 points per game. Last week, they defeated Northwestern State 75-7. The last time the Red Raiders were held to under 10 points was Sept. 16, 2006, when they were defeated 12-3 by Texas Christian University.

“Texas Tech just lines up and says, ‘We’re going to throw it and you can’t stop us,'” Chizik said. “There’s no surprise to anyone in the stadium. That’s what they want to do.”

Chizik also hopes to decrease the Cyclones’ turnovers. In their first five games this season, 15 ISU turnovers have led to 51 opponent points, which he blames for the Cyclones 1-4 start.

“I think that tells the whole tale,” he said. “I think one word can really describe every loss – turnovers.”

Chizik said time of possession will also be key. Iowa State, which led Nebraska in time of possession – offense and total plays – fell to the Cornhuskers, 35-17. Now, they’ll hope to keep Harrell off the field as much as possible to maintain a refreshed defense.

“It takes a tremendous toll,” Chizik said of the passing game. “We’re going to have to get creative on how we rush the passer.”

Most of the ISU defense is looking forward to getting an close-up look at the Red Raider offense.

“You have to be excited about playing a pass-heavy team, especially defensive backs, because it’s an opportunity to make interceptions, make plays on balls, and stuff like that,” said senior defensive back Caleb Berg.

No matter what they do, Chizik said it’s been a challenge getting ready for Saturday’s game.