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Nebraska Iowa State Preview - Where is ISU's Offense?

Coming into the 2006 season, Nebraska's Zac Taylor and ISU's Brett Meyer were two of only four returning starters at quarterback in the Big 12, the other two being Shawn Bell at Baylor, and Bobby Reid of Oklahoma State. Zac Taylor continued 2006 where he left off in 2005, doing an excellent job of executing the Nebraska offense and putting up good numbers.

Iowa State's offense was expected to be one of the better in the Big 12, if not the nation. It hasn't turned out that way. Take a look at third-year starter Brett Meyer's numbers so far through 2006:

Player Completed Attempts Yards Cmp % YPA Long TD INTs Sack Rating
Brett Meyer 94 149 1186 63.1 7.96 44 7 4 14 140.08

The most striking stat when looking at Brett Meyer's stats is a lack of production where it counts - in the touchdown column. Giving up 14 sacks through five games is a lot, unless you consider that seven of those came against Texas. Nebraska's defensive line will be comparable to Texas's, if Cosgrove decides to unleash them the result may be close to the same.

Meyer gets rocked against Texas. More of the same Saturday night? Yesssiir!!!

Iowa State should have been scoring tons of points when playing the likes of Toledo, UNLV, and Div IAA Northern Iowa. Yet they scored 23 (in regulation against Toledo), 16, and 28 point respectively in those games.

The Cyclones' best pro prospect, Junior Todd Blythe, has a 6' 5" frame - you'd think they'd do what they did last year and throw the ball in the air anywhere around Blythe and let him go up and get it. Yet here are stats for the ISU receiving corps:

Player Receptions Yards Yards Per Catch Long TD
Jon Davis 21 304 14.5 44 1
Austin Flynn 23 287 12.5 34 0
Todd Blythe 19 257 13.5 30 5
Walter Nickel 10 143 14.3 32 1
RJ Sumrall 8 115 14.4 32 0
As CrossCyed stated, Jon Davis appears to be the go-to guy this year, but Blythe is the guy that they'll be throwing the ball to once they near the goal line. Nebraska's smaller defensive backs will have a hard time defending him unless there is constant pressure on the quarterback.

Stevie Hicks is a third-year starter at running back and with those four Senior starters on the offensive line, the ground game should be good, but ISU is ranked 81st in rushing offense. Meyer's numbers show decent production, but again, there is that problem with getting into the end zone.

Player Carries Yards Yards Per Carry Long TD
Stevie Hicks 78 363 4.7 26 2

Ricky William's hair ain't helpin' him much.

The other item that's missing from the offense? Big plays - when your running back's longest run of the yard is 26 yards, and your top receiver's biggest play is under 50 yards, you're struggling to be explosive.

Could this be the game that Iowa State breaks out of the slump and gets the offense moving? Given that last week Nebraska allowed a second-string quarterback to look like a NFL All-Pro, it may not be that bad a bet.

It's a night game in Ames, dangerous as that may be. It is against an opponent that Iowa State desperately needs to beat to stay in the hunt for the Big 12 North title. Iowa State has always played us tough in Ames, even during the Tom Osborne era. Anything can happen, but for Iowa State that will require some grit and gut that they just haven't shown this season.