Notebook: Cyclones prepare for high-powered Texas Tech offense

Iowa State football fans rush the field with signs dedicated to quarterback Brock Purdy following the Iowa State vs. West Virginia upset on Oct 13, 2018. The Cyclones beat No.7 West Virginia 30-14.

Aaron Marner

Iowa State didn’t play a game this weekend due to a scheduled bye week, giving the Cyclones extra time to prepare for their next game against Texas Tech.

The Red Raiders are 5-2 (3-1 Big 12) and have won five of their last six games since losing the season opener. Texas Tech is also 2-0 on the road in Big 12 play, having won at Oklahoma State (41-17) and at TCU (17-14).

Monday, coach Matt Campbell spoke during the Big 12 coaches teleconference about his team’s recent play, their upcoming challenge against Texas Tech and more.

Cyclones rolling with two straight wins

Iowa State’s season didn’t start how Campbell and the team planned.

The Cyclones lost their opening game at Iowa, 13-3. The following game against Oklahoma was another 10-point loss. After knocking off Akron, Iowa State dropped to 1-3 with a loss at TCU.

Since then, however, Iowa State has regrouped to win its last two games.

“I know I said this at the beginning of the year that I really like this football team,” Campbell said. “The character, the leadership, really since last January it’s a group that has really done a great job of coming to work every day to get better.

“I don’t remember exactly what was said after that [TCU] game, other than it would be easy at that point to be frustrated, let things slide and go the other way.”

In the two games since that TCU loss, Iowa State has controlled the tempo and found ways to exploit weaknesses.

The Cyclones have increased their defensive pressure, setting the school record (and then tying it the next week) with seven sacks against Oklahoma State. Iowa State’s defense only allowed one touchdown against West Virginia; the other score came on a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown.

Freshmen set to duel Saturday

Iowa State received a breath of fresh air against Oklahoma State when true freshman quarterback Brock Purdy stepped in for redshirt sophomore Zeb Noland, who had started the previous three games.

He’ll be battling Texas Tech’s Alan Bowman, a freshman quarterback in the same position as Purdy.

Purdy led Iowa State to a win over the Cowboys and carried that momentum into a win over Will Grier and West Virginia the next week.

After outdueling Grier, a player who had good odds of winning the Heisman Trophy, Purdy’s next quarterback matchup is the opposite side of the spectrum.

“In our sport today, it’s definitely unique,” Campbell said. “[Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury] has always done a great job of developing quarterbacks. No matter who he’s put in, those guys have seemed to always play at a really high rate.”

Bowman has a bit more experience. He has played six games, twice as many as Purdy. He’s also the Big 12 leader in several passing categories, including completions, attempts and yards.

Bowman and Purdy have the same touchdown-to-interception ratio (3.5-to-1) and both have completed over 70 percent of their passes, which puts them in the top-10 nationally.

Defense emerges as one of Big 12’s best

Iowa State’s defense has taken a step forward at the same point in the season as last year.

The Cyclones have made their mark in second halves, especially.

The Cyclones have found ways to give opponents new looks. The last two weeks, that has been with extra blitzing.

Against Texas Tech however, blitzing may not be the answer. Bowman has a high completion percentage (eighth in the country), but the Red Raiders are fourth in the Big 12 in passing yards per attempt. That means Texas Tech tends to throw short routes rather than going for big plays all at once.

One of Iowa State’s keys on defense could be JaQuan Bailey.

Bailey, a junior defensive end, is tied for fourth in the Big 12 in sacks with 4.5.

“When sometimes you only have three down linemen, there are only three guys rushing the passer, the offenses are able to get extra hats on those down guys,” Campbell said. “There’s two linemen working on just one defensive player.

“JaQuan is put in a situation sometimes that’s different than being in a four-man front all the time. It can definitely be a challenge.”

Bailey has made the most of his junior season so far. Along with his 4.5 sacks, Bailey is third in the Big 12 with 9.5 tackles for loss.