What is Dispatches from Blogfrica? Pretty simple: I ask questions of an blogger for an opposing team; he answers. A truly revolutionary idea, no? Today: a special guest -- @RandyPetes from Twitter, an unparalleled expert on all things Iowa State.
1) Iowa State has had a stunning array of injuries of late. Have you used your journalistic skills to dig into the bottom of this injury epidemic? WasJack Trice Stadium was built on an Indian burial ground? Is an embittered ex-coach (whose name rhymes with "Chene Gizik," perhaps) putting a curse on his former program?
RP: Gene Chizik dug this program into a hole the likes of which had never been seen before in Ames. Before him, the #cyclones were annually in the hunt for Big 12 North Championships. CPR is now in uncharted here to rebuild from the ground up and he has done a commendable job taking the #cyclones to bowl games pretty much every year. Injuries are inevitably going to happen when you are facing Big 12 competition in practice on a daily basis.
2) Iowa State has also had several players quit the team, both in the off-season and during the season itself. Some observers might interpret that as a sign that a certain high-energy head coach's manic style is wearing thin around Ames. Is it fair to say that you have a slightly different view of what's going on?
RP: CPR does a fine job with his team. Each team reflects their coach. So when he brings high energy to the sidelines, they bring high energy to their opponents. It's a tactic that has constantly been mimicked with many Big Ten basketball coaches across the state of Iowa. If you want your defense chomping bubble gum with their arms crossed while high octane Big 12 offenses come barreling at them, you shouldn't be in coaching. As far as players leaving the team goes, I've heard from multiple sources that the level of competition in practice is so high, that the only real break these kids get is on Saturdays. When you have a team full of Allen Lazards, you have to expect that some players just won't be able to cut it.
3) That was also quite a letter you wrote to Grant Rohach a few weeks ago. Did he write you back? Do you have any other penpals on the Iowa State team? Do you think it's appropriate for an ostensibly objective member of the media to address one of the athletes he's supposed to cover in that fashion?
RP: He hasn't written me back yet, but I assume he gets so much fan mail that it's hard to keep up with. There's a new rule that was recently put into place that prohibits players from responding to letters and fan mail. I'm not sure what triggered that but I'm sure CPR just wants his team focusing on the upcoming Big 12 schedule. I write Allen Lazard quite a bit but have forgotten to enclose my phone number so I'm sure that's why I haven't heard back from him.
And I'm not quite sure what the last question means but I cover sports, not fashion.
4) The Iowa State offense has interspersed moments of extreme competence with long period of massive incompetence and ineffectiveness through two games this season. What should Iowa fans expect to see out of the Iowa State offense this weekend? Is the Manginoffense going to be fully deployed in Iowa City?
RP: I'm not sure if you saw it but Mark Mangino said yesterday "It's starting to come together. The picture is slowly coming together for the kids on offense." That's scary. This is an offense that put up 28 points on a defense that is playing #5 Auburn next Thursday. They'll be going up against an Iowa defense that gave up 44 points to these #cyclones in 2011. I like their chances.
5) On the other side of the ball, Iowa State ranks 99th in the country or lower in rushing defense, total defense, and scoring defense. Do they have a defensive gameplan beyond hoping Iowa's offense continues to trip over itself?
RP: First of all, you have to take it for what it is. The #cyclones have played the #1 and #20 ranked teams in the nation. You also have to realize that the #cyclones defense held 20th ranked Kansas State to 23 points under their season average entering that game. Look, CPR isn't going to schedule pushover teams like Northern Iowa and Ball State. He wants to prepare his men for the Big 12 season and loading your schedule up with FCS teams doesn't accomplish that. This week will be a glorified bye week for CPR's defense.
6) OK, prediction time -- who ya got?
RP: I'm gonna surprise a lot of people because I think this game is going to be a lot closer than everything thinks. Allen Lazard will likely have a monster game. He knows he'll be playing on Sundays next year so this is the only shot he'll get at the #hawkeyes. I see Iowa getting a couple late score to make it interesting but I'm thinking a final score somewhere in the neighborhood of Iowa State 36 Iowa 6.
Thanks for being a good sport, RP, although I still hope the team you cover with complete objectivity loses by 50 on Saturday. You can check out RP on the Twitters at @RandyPetes. The Iowa-Iowa State game is in Iowa City, IA on Saturday, September 13, and is scheduled to start at 2:30 pm CT, with television coverage from ESPN.