After a close call Saturday the Texas Longhorns sit in third place in the Big 12 with 4-2 conference record. The Longhorns escaped Lubbock with a 31-22 win against Texas Tech, where their playmakers showed up just when they needed it. Despite a lackluster record, Iowa State presents some problems Texas needs to be mindful of this weekend.
Rush the Passer: Iowa State is a team known more for its defense than its offense. It currently ranks No. 29 in total defense while ranking No. 89 in total offense. When their offense is on however, the team is alive. If quarterback Steele Jantz is having a good performance, the team likely has a good chance of winning. The Longhorns should look to step up the pressure and disrupt Jantz, whose numbers are streaky to say the least. Jantz has been sacked 11 times this season which amounts to just over one per game. Against top-tier teams such as Oklahoma and Texas Tech, pressure forced Jantz into bad decisions and consequential turnovers. Jantz possesses many elite physical tools which make him a player to watch no matter what his numbers indicate. For this reason, the Longhorns should force Jantz into the pressured throws that have proven to be kryptonite for the Cyclones this season.
Pound the Line: Iowa State has done a solid job against the run this season, with Oklahoma being the exception. The Cyclones have a big defensive line that can clog up holes and make things tough for an opponent’s running game. Texas should look to use its strength to pound the defensive line of the Cyclones and wear them down. When Iowa State gets pressure in the backfield it can make a lot of plays, as shown in the big win against TCU in which the Cyclones forced five turnovers. Texas should enter this game with a lot of confidence in their rushing attack after an impressive breaking out of sorts from freshman Johnathan Gray against Texas Tech. Iowa State is giving up just over 21 points a game and pounding the ball relentlessly will slow down their big defenders and allow running lanes to open up for bigger plays.
Be Creative: The Cyclones, as stated already, have a solid and methodical defense. If an offense makes mistakes, the Cyclones capitalize on them. They follow their game plan every time out and force teams to use their strengths to beat them. To distract the Cyclones from the monotony of their defensive pursuits, the Longhorns should look to be a bit creative on offense. The receiving corps for Texas has fallen under the radar this season but possesses great speed that should be used more effectively. Marquise Goodwin and Mike Davis have come up big when called upon, and their speed should be used in this game to wear down the secondary of the Cyclones. A few jet sweeps wouldn’t hurt. Maybe a few reverses or direct snaps to a motioning receiver. Creative play calling would allow the receivers to step more into their element by utilizing their speed. This would also distract Iowa State’s methodical game plan and force them to make big adjustments.