the Texas Longhorns (7-2, 4-2 Big 12) can breathe a little easier and focus on the Iowa State Cyclones (5-4, 2-4 Big 12), now that Mack Brown and the brotherhood of Bevo have shaken a few of the haters off with a statement win last week against Texas Tech.
The Longhorns have a lot to play for this weekend. Hearts will be heavy as the team honors Darrell K Royal, who passed away this week, and the disaster of 2010, when Iowa State came to Texas and pulled off a 28-21 upset, is still fresh in Brown's mind. Let's be real. The UCLA loss in 2010 hurt but the defeat at the hands of Iowa State really crushed UT and served as the exclamation point of the season. The memories of Royal and the 2010 loss should both serve to motivate the Longhorns. Here's a reminder of both, just for balance's sake.
Iowa State has their eyes set on a win that would make them bowl eligible, but who will the Longhorns be focused on as the enigmatic Iowa State Cyclones come to town? Horns Illustrated drops some knowledge about the athletes from Ames. It's time to "Know Your Enemy."
We're focusing on the team as whole this week, because there really aren't a number of
I Take Offense to That
Iowa State averages 24.4 points a game, good (or bad enough, depending on your perspective) to be ranked 89th in the nation. They may be nicknamed the Cyclones but at the moment we would downgrade their offense to a slight breeze. Of course, we joked about the Kansas Jayhawks and that turned out to be a close game. Maybe we should reverse the jinx and tell Longhorn fans to be on the lookout for falling houses in the sky?
Senior quarterback Steele Jantz was fighting for his starting spot two weeks ago before throwing for five touchdowns against Baylor in a 35-21 win. Jantz will never be confused for the other statistical giants of the Big 12 outside of that game though. And while Jantz has thrown the ball over forty times in the last two games, he isn't afraid to tuck it and run. The numbers show as much, as Jantz has run the ball ten times or more in five games this season.
Jantz's greatest intangible is his leadership but he has to match that trait with consistency in his play. Jantz completed 68.9% of his passes this season in the Cyclones' victories but only 49.3% in losses. He also tries to play the role of Superman, or the Man of Steele as it were, too often since his team lacks playmakers. And when you try to force plays, that's when turnovers are forced. Jantz's stats prove that, as he has 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on the season.
Let's Get Physical
The Big 12 as a whole isn't known for their intestinal fortitude but the Iowa State Cyclones are an exception to the rule. The team as a whole, especially on defense, is undersized but they play with a chip on their shoulder. In a lot of ways, they are like the little brother who just doesn't know when to stay down. Texas, especially on defense this season, hasn't responded well when a team hits them. Iowa State will look to impose their physicality and chippy attitude on the Longhorns, who have struggled to get up in early games. Unfortunately, Texas plays this game at 11 A.M. and struggled in that situation against both Kansas and Oklahoma.
Rolling In the Deep
I'll be the first to sing the praises of the Texas running game, as Johnathan Gray continues to open eyes to his immense skill set, but it wouldn't hurt to test the Cyclones' secondary. They are the 109th ranked pass defense in the country, after all, and will have to key in on the Longhorn running attack. Perhaps a few play-action passes would do good, Bryan Harsin. Just saying.
Tackling the Issue
Last season's Big 12 Co-Defender of the Year, senior linebacker A.J. Klein ranks fifth in the Big 12 with nine tackles a game. At 6'2" and 244 pounds, Klein makes up for a lack of acceleration to the ball with natural instincts. He looks like A.J. Hawk but reminds me a lot of Brian Urlacher in his ability to make big plays and brute strength.
What a Pig
Senior strong safety Durrell Givens will have to make some plays this week for the Cyclones to have a chance at a victory. He has had no problem shifting the momentum for Iowa State this season, having forced three fumbles and recovered four. Givens is also eleventh in the Big 12 in tackles. He had two interceptions last week against Oklahoma (who doesn't against Landry Jones? Am I right?) and leads the FBS with eight takeaways this season. David Ash, beware.
He's also nicknamed Pig, which is kind of cool if you're into that thing. He was given the nickname for his stature as a baby but it really fits his nature to take the ball away as a defender. Texas definitely doesn't want him to feast this weekend.