Iowa State 101
By Phil Houk of Fighting Irish Preview
7-5 Iowa State is appearing in its 15th bowl game overall and 3rd straight under Matt Campbell. is in his 4th season heading up Cyclones.
Iowa State’s best win was over Texas 23-21. Their 5 defeats include 1-point losses to Iowa and Oklahoma, a 2-point loss to Baylor, and a one touchdown loss to Oklahoma State. In their last game of the season they fell to Kansas State 27-17.
The Cyclones are led by Sophomore QB Brock Purdy and they prefer to pass the ball over running it. Purdy is a 66% passer who has thrown for 3,760 yards, 4th best in the nation and good for 27 TDs and 9 interceptions.
Charlie Kolar, his 6-6 Tight End leads the team with 7 td receptions, and Senior Deshaute Jones leads the team in catches with 72 good for 832 yards. 6-1, 205 freshman Breece Hall is the leading rusher with 842 yards on 169 carries, good for a 5 yard per carry average. Hall has run for 9 TDs.
Defensively Iowa State likes to run out of a 3-3-5 scheme, and they will frequently drop 8 defenders into pass coverage. They are 43rd nationally in total defense. Respected defensive coordinator Jon Heacock is in his 4 year with the Cyclones and this season his troops have given up 25.3 points per game. Ranking them 52nd nationally.
The Cyclones on one hand have not forced many turnovers, but on the other hand they have been very good in limiting big plays, no small feat in the offense happy Big 12.
Most of the pressure the defense brings on the Quarterback will come from the second level, but defensive end Will McDonald with 6 sacks is a disruptive and dangerous player off the edge. Senior Linebacker Marcel Spears Jr. leads the team in tackles and running a close second in that category is Junior Safety Lawrence White. Sophomore linebacker O’Rien Vance is the sack leader with 6 and a half.
On special teams the Cyclones have been pretty average and they will give up a lot of kick and punt return opportunities.
Dropping 8 on defense may limit the ability of Ian Book to throw deep, and to find running lanes when he leaves the pocket. And on the other side of the ball it looks like strength against strength, Notre Dame has been very good against the pass, and Iowa State and Brock Purdy have been very good passing.
The keys for the Irish may well be how Coach Tommy Rees performs against the unconventional 3-5-3 Cyclone defense. Finding ways to get speed to the edge and showing patience in the passing game is something Chip Long excelled at, Tommy Rees is a promising but unknown quantity as a play caller.
Motivation will also play a part, this game is one of the biggest in Iowa State history, but for Notre Dame fans it is viewed as a oh hum match-up. that said Notre Dame has superior athletes all over the field, look for that factor to be a key to the outcome.