AMES — Last Saturday, Iowa State faced an offensive football team in Texas Tech that many consider prolific in nature.
This Saturday, the Cyclones (1-4 overall, 0-2 Big 12) face a team that averages 715.4 yards and 63.4 points per game, which is 171 yards and 21.6 more points than the Red Raiders average.
In its first four games, 12th-ranked Baylor (5-0, 2-0) scored 69, 70, 70 and 73 before being its 35-25 win over Kansas State last weekend.
Based on those numbers, prolific hardly does justice to the offense Iowa State will face at Floyd Casey Stadium at 6 p.m. Saturday.
“We’re very sober in the offices this week and working hard to try to figure out answers to slow these guys down as well as put up as many points on the board as we are going to need to win this football game,” Cyclone head coach Paul Rhoads said.
Rhoads opened his weekly press conference Monday with a long list of Baylor’s impressive offensive numbers and had to pause to catch his breath before he finished.
Among the highlights were six players with runs of 22 yards or longer, a quarterback in Brock Petty who has completed 70 percent of his passes (80 of 114) with only one interception, and eight receivers who have catches of 36 or longer.
“It is a great challenge, a team like Baylor, that is why you come to the Big 12 is to face offenses like that and try to find solutions to powerhouse offense like theirs,” ISU linebacker Luke Knott said.
ISU has been hit or miss defending Baylor in the last two meetings. Two years ago, Robert Griffin and Terrance Ganaway gashed the Cyclones for 603 total yards in a 49-26 victory in Waco.
Last year, ISU forced four turnovers and held Lache Seastrunk, who ranks ninth in the country this year with 128.6 rushing yards per game, to 30 yards on seven carries as the Cyclones won, 35-21, in Ames.
“We defended the run very well, and every game starts with defending the run coming from an old defensive coach’s perspective,” Rhoads said. “We didn’t do that Saturday against Texas Tech, a team that got over double what they are averaging on the ground.
“But it (the key to beating Baylor last year) started there and taking that away we were able to play one of our best defensive games of the year last year.”
It might come down to trying to stopping one aspect of Baylor’s offense again Saturday.
“We’ve been here since Sunday trying to figure that out and to be honest we haven’t made any decisions on what we are going to do yet,” defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said. “We know what they do out of certain personnel groups, but being able to stop it is the main thing we are working on right now ... slow it down, I should say.
“You have to make some decisions. Okay, I’m going to defend the run or I’m I going to defend the pass and live with the other.”
And while everyone is trying to wrap their minds around the offensive numbers Baylor is producing, Rhoads added one more nugget to the equation.
“They play defense, too, 18 points and 346 yards is all they are giving up,” Rhoads said.
Those numbers rank third and fourth, respectively, in the Big 12.
INJURY UPDATES: The Cyclones will be without starting quick tackle Jacob Gannon, who suffered a knee injury against the Red Raiders.
Gannon will be replaced by senior Kyle Lichtenberg, who has made 18 career starts for ISU, fourth-most on the team.
“We were hoping after the game he wasn’t as bad as Tom (Farniok) and Jamison (Lalk), but it appears to be that way and he probably will not be available,” Rhoads said.
Running back Aaron Wimberly, who missed most of the second half with ankle and back injuries, will play. Wimberly, who has 319 rushing yards in the Cyclones’ last three games, practiced Sunday.
Starting cornerback Jansen Watson, who did not play against the Red Raiders because of an ankle injury, will play.
BIG 12 HONORS: Jarvis West was lauded by the Big 12 as its Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance against Texas Tech.
West recorded Iowa State’s first non-onside kickoff return for a touchdown since 1994 (Troy Davis), going 95 yards for the score on ISU’s first touchdown of the afternoon. The 95-yard kickoff return tied for the third-longest in school history.
West also had four punt returns for 46 yards, including a career-long 38-yarder in the third quarter.
West’s career 26.10 average on kickoff returns ranks second all-time in school history behind Luther Blue (26.47; 1973-76).
NEXT UP: ISU’s game Oct. 26 at Jack Trice Stadium against Oklahoma State will be an 11 a.m. kickoff and will be televised on Fox Sports Net.
©2013 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa)
Distributed by MCT Information Services