NOTEBOOK: Lima draws praise, Oklahoma poses threat on both sides

Iowa State’s Ray Lima was named to the 2019 Preseason All-Big 12 Team.

Jack Macdonald

As Iowa State (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) prepares to face No. 3 Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0 Big 12), Tom Manning, Jon Heacock, Joel Lanning, Ray Lima and De’Monte Ruth met with the media to discuss last week’s loss to Texas and the challenges the Sooners hold. 

Here are some of the takeaways from Tuesday. 

Lima draws praise, stays humble

In Monday’s press conference coach Matt Campbell had nothing but praise for Ray Lima, who has shined in his first season with the Cyclones. The redshirt junior started fall camp as the number one nose guard and has taken flight from there. 

Although the junior-college transfer has not had his stats show up on the scoresheet, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t made noise. Lima has nine tackles in four games, yet no sacks for a defense that has 10 sacks.

“There’s consistency inside,” defensive coordinator Jon Heacock said. “If you’re going to be good in anything, most sports you’ve got to be good down the middle and he’s playing really good football there.”

Joel Lanning, redshirt senior linebacker, also praised the success Lima had at opening up gaps for the linebackers and even defensive backs on certain plays, allowing for pressure to reach the opposing backfield. It was something that Lima prides himself on, yet doesn’t draw attention to.

“I don’t see myself much as a hero,” Lima said. 

Mayfield and Oklahoma offense 

It’s well-known that the Oklahoma offense is a force to be reckoned with, but it’s also known that the Cyclones’ defense is coming off one of its best performances, despite losing. 

The Sooner’s have Baker Mayfield, a Heisman Trophy candidate, holding the keys to its offense. And for Iowa State, that is something that obviously throws out red flags, but they were able to keep it relatively close in last year’s showdown. 

“It’s a different team, they’re a different team and we’re a different team,” Heacock said. “You just try to build off of the things that you’re doing. You look at last year’s tape, but again they’re a completely different football team than they were a year ago and really so are we.”

However, different or not, Mayfield still has the ball in his hands and that has not gone well for any other defense this season. The Sooner’s are 4-0 and have averaged 48 points per game, ranking fourth in all of the FBS. 

Mayfield himself has 13 touchdown passes and zero interceptions, while completing 76 of 101 completions. 

Sooner’s defense spells issues for Cyclones’ offense

Flip to the other side of the ball and the Sooner’s are just as strong, which may be a massive problem for a struggling offense. The Cyclones’ offense put up 40 or more points in their first three games, but once put up against a Big 12 defense, it only scored a measly seven points. 

“I saw some really good things and I think we saw certainly some opportunities that we perhaps missed,” offensive coordinator Tom Manning said on the play of Jacob Park.

But it just wasn’t the defense that beat the Cyclones, it was also themselves. The clear issue was the play-call balance as the number of pass plays called significantly outnumbered the number of run plays.

Sophomore running back David Montgomery had received comparisons to Kareem Hunt just weeks before the Texas game, but was only handed the ball nine times for 34 yards. Prior to the Texas game, Montgomery averaged 18.6 carries per game for 107 yards.

“I think against any team having a balanced attack is very important,” Manning said. “Having nine touches, I think there were some things in the pass game that we tried to get [Montgomery] to that they were able to take away.

I would like to be way more balanced, especially when you have a guy like [Montgomery] and I think ultimately that’s something that hurt us.”