September 27, 2012
By Adam Rosen
1. ESTABLISH A RUSHING ATTACK ON OFFENSE
Ever since Paul Rhoads arrived at Iowa State in 2009, the Cyclones have provided some salty competition to members of the Big 12 conference with his run-based offense. During that span, an interesting trend has taken place regarding the Cyclones' win-loss record in conference play.
When Iowa State's opponents have 40 or more rushing attempts, the Cyclones are 1-15 in Big 12 action.
When Iowa State's opponents have less than 40 rushing attempts, the Cyclones are 8-1 in Big 12 action.
It seems Paul Rhoads' football philosophy leaves his team vulnerable against a steady diet of rushes. Texas Tech lost to Iowa State in 2010 and 2011, falling victim to this trend by posting total rushing attempts of 25 and 26, respectively.
Tech has hit the 40 plus rushing attempt mark just three times in Big 12 play under offensive coordinator Neal Brown's guidance. All three games resulted in Tech wins, including upset wins over No. 12 Missouri in 2010, No. 1 Oklahoma last season and their only other conference win last season against Kansas.
Combining the 2010 and 2011 season, the Tech offense averaged 33 rushing attempts per game and only had a total of four games with 40 or more attempts.
Through three games in 2012, Neal Brown's offense is averaging 38 attempts per game and already has gone over the 40 rush mark twice.
Obviously, there are numerous situations that can factor into the result of a football game. However, numbers don't lie and this trend says it would be advantageous for the Red Raiders rely on the ground and pound a little more often.
2. WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE
Iowa State's formula for success in the Big 12 conference is simple under Rhoads, play fundamentally sound and win the turnover battle. The Cyclones' offense isn't structured to score in a hurry to mask their mistakes, which is why another lofty trend is emerging against Big 12 opponents.
In games where Iowa State finished positive in the turnover margin, they are 7-2 against Big 12 opponents.
In games where Iowa State finished even or negative in the turnover margin, they are 2-14 against Big 12 opponents.
The Red Raiders already know how bad Iowa State can hurt them if they fail to take care of the rock. Last season, two early Tech turnovers were recycled into 14 points for the Cyclones, contributing to an early 21-0 game of catch-up (it was more like see you later).
Protecting the football won't get you on ESPN's Top Ten highlight reel -- it's not flashy. However, throwing the ball away instead of into tight windows or securing the football with two hands when making contact, will minimize Tech's chances of losing on Saturday in Ames.
3. QUARTERBACK RATING
This is my favorite stat from the offseason. Seth Doege should be able to hit this number every time if he can manage the game and keep it simple.
When Neal Brown's quarterbacks have posted a quarterback rating of 143 or more for a game, the team's overall record is 19-0 -- for comparison's take, Doege's 26-of-38 outing for 222 yards and three touchdowns against Nevada last year earned a 143.5 rating.
And that's all it takes to hit that mark -- nothing spectacular or heroic. Be simple, effective and protect the football within an offense that has plenty of weapons to do the heavy lifting.