What is Dispatches from Blogfrica? Pretty simple: I ask questions of an blogger for an opposing team; he answers. A truly revolutionary idea, no? This week: I am a Cyentist at Wide Right & Natty Lite, SB Nation's excellent blog for all things Iowa State.
1) So... HATE HATE HATE. It's HATE WEEK. You hate us, we hate you, it's a neverending cycle of hate. What level's your hate at this year? A standard level of hate? More hate than normal? Less hate than normal?
More hate than normal, but not the fun kind of hate like we've had the past few years. It's more of a sullen, mumbly type of hate, due to the week one loss. Basically, we've pushed all our anger from Purple Iowa to Black & Gold Iowa. This seems healthy.
2) Alright, UNI. What the hell happened? I don't get Cyclone.TV or whatever the hell it was on, so I wasn't able to get the game. But... it didn't sound good for Iowa State. Was it just a fluke game? A sign of big issues that ISU needs to fix ASAP?
The UNI game sounds pretty similar to what happened with Iowa and Northern Illinois. I don't get the Big Ten Network, or whatever the hell that game was on, so you'll have to confirm. Those UNI's, man... Northern Iowa exposed a young team, still trying to gel, especially on defense. The players and staff seemed incredibly unprepared in the first half, as they decided to trot Jevohn Miller and his matador impression out there at linebacker. After 100+ rushing yards and two touchdowns from David Johnson, Wally Burnham had seen enough and replaced him with Luke Knott, after which the defense stiffened.
Unfortunately, just as the defense was finding their game, the offense was losing theirs. Put more simply, on offense, Courtney Messingham happened. Oh, and center/line anchor Tom Farniok strained his ACL in the second quarter. After a little reshuffling, the line just wasn't the same and Sam Richardson was harassed much in the second half.
3) So Sam B. Richardson is the man at QB for Iowa State now, right? You're sure that Steele Jantz is out of eligibility and that he won't be coming back to haunt us one more year? What are some of Richardson's strengths? What are his weaknesses right now? Also, what's up with the B. in Sam B. Richardson's name? Is he trying to differentiate himself from another Sam Richardson? Is it an homage to former Los Angeles Clipper great World B. Free or former Friday Night Lights/Fruitvale Station star Michael B. Jordan?
The B. in Sam Richardson's name stands for "Badass." It also separates him from starting cornerback Sam E. Richardson (a quick look at the depth chart should clear this up for you). In a weird coincidence, both Sam Richardson's committed to Iowa State in the same week, which provided great fun for headline writers everywhere.
Richardson has the potential to be a star at Iowa State, but he's still young and inconsistent. He sees the field well, throws an accurate ball and doesn't make many mistakes, as his 10-1 TD-INT ratio attests. He's also a deceptively quick runner, which Courtney Messingham seems intent on exploiting until Sam is broken in half. Right now, he still holds the ball too long in the pocket, which leads to sacks. Once he learns to throw the ball away when there's nothing there, he'll improve as a quarterback.
4) Has Shontrelle Johnson been at Iowa State since the start of the Gene Chizik Era, or does it just feel that way? I know Richardson led Iowa State in passing and rushing against UNI, but I assume the goal isn't for him to be a one-man band all season. Who are some of the other weapons on offense that will be trying to help Iowa State keep the Cy-Hawk Trophy in Ames?
Shontrelle's a true senior this year, so this is his fourth year, not quite a Chizik-level tenure. He played behind Alexander Robinson his freshman year and was hampered by injuries his sophomore and junior years, so he's never had a full year to show what he can do. Cyclone fans have their fingers crossed that this is the year that he puts it all together, 'cause the guy's had a rough time so far and he deserves it.
On offense, JUCO transfer Aaron Wimberly showed a nice burst on kickoff returns and at running back. He's supposedly the fastest player on the team, so look for him to get a lot of touches Saturday. But the Cyclone offense usually uses a platoon of running backs; James White, Jeff Woody and DeVondrick Nealy will also split carries.
If Teutonic Tight End Ernst Brun is fully recovered from his full body cramping (didn't know full body cramping was even possible), he should be a weapon. Brun is a big target at can be a playmaker in the redzone; he tied Josh Lenz for most touchdown catches on the team last year. And speaking of catching the ball, the Cyclones actually have some decent young receivers this year. Redshirt sophomore Quenton Bundrage is the number one receiver for a reason (he's big, fast and runs correct routes), but Nebraska-Omaha transfer Justin Coleman was a pleasant surprise in the UNI game as well.
And as always, fear the ever-dangerous punter Kirby Van Der Kamp, who will flip field position on you so fast it'll make your head spin. Sadly, Kirby has been the Cyclone offense's most potent weapon at times on offense. #KVDK4RAY!
5) Iowa State graduated two of its best defenders in recent memory last year, AJ Klein and Jake Knott. How goes the quest to replace them? What are the strengths of this Iowa State defense?
The linebacker position has been a tough one for Iowa State in recent years. Knott and Klein played incredibly well, but attrition has destroyed any depth at the position. Senior Jeremiah George and junior Jared Brackens are the only upperclassmen on the two-deep roster, behind them it's a mix of underclassmen and walkons.
Similarly, the defensive line is very inexperienced/undersized this year and has had trouble pressuring opposing quarterbacks. So Iowa can trot out any former-walkon they want at running back and he'll probably gain 100 yards this Saturday. The general crapitude of the defensive front seven sucks, because the defensive backfield is one of the stronger and more experienced groups on the team. It's just tough for them to cover their man for 4-6 seconds on every play.
6) OK, prediction time -- who ya got?
Predictions, everyone? I have ISU winning 24-17, but I'll defer to other thoughts.
Thanks for being a good sport, although I still hope your team loses by 50 on Saturday. You can check out I am a Cyentist and the rest of the WRNL crew at Wide Rite & Natty Lite. You can also follow WRNL on Twitter at @WideRtNattyLt. The Iowa-Iowa State game is in Ames on Saturday, September 14, and is scheduled to start at 5:30 pm CT, with television coverage from Fox Sports 1.