FARMAGEDDON DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN! It's that time of year when we all prepare to head to Kansas City and pile into Arrowhead and-- what? You're kidding. Okay. I didn't know we were allowed to play the Cyclones in Manhattan anymore. My bad.
Ahem. So... I hooked up with Wide Right Natty Lite and our pal CanAzn -- at least I think it was him, it was hard to tell through the veil of despair and frustration and Iowa-level blood alcohol content -- to have some words. Strong words. Words with meaning. Because this is war, and war requires directness and solemnity and beer. Lots and lots of beer.
Jon: So... program on the rise, things looking bright, lots of excitement in Ames... and things have turned into vinegar. Three months ago, Paul Rhoads was the beloved savior of Iowa State football, a certified Metal God, and the motivator to surpass all motivators. How y'all feel about him now? Does he still have a grip on the team?
WRNL: Part of the problem with this season is that coaches and fans alike knew we had glaring deficiencies on both sides of the ball and we were incredibly young, so most were calling for 3-4 wins. Then fall camp happened and there seemed to be nothing but positive news coming out everyday. Naturally, everyone just decided to ignore the major issues and shoot for the moon. I know that I was thinking 3 wins before camp and all the hype got me to go to 5 wins. [Ed. Note: K-State fans have no idea what the hell he's talking about here. None at all. Honest.] Paul Rhoads is starting to lose a bit of his luster but as long as he addresses the major issues (which surprisingly, I'd say is more so offense despite the statistical abortion of the defense), he'll be fine with our fanbase. If he remains complacent with a crappy offense and a leaky defense then the cries for his head will grow louder.
Jon: K-State lost Collin Klein and Arthur Brown, and replacing them hasn't been awesome, but at the same time hasn't been a total disaster. You guys lost Jake Knott and A.J. Klein. How's that hit the Cyclones so far?
WRNL: Horrifically. Jeremiah George is a nice player but he's just not at the level Klein and Knott were. With George is the 3rd linebacker, Iowa State was fine. With him as the lead linebacker? Not so good. Jared Brackens has been above average on the other side, while Jevohn Miller struggled to fill Knott's shoes more than Lindsay Lohan with rehab. Miller's replacement Luke Knott has filled in fairly well for his older brother, bringing us hope for a Lockett-esque tradition at Iowa State, so of course he's injured now.
Jon: What else has gone horribly wrong this year to contribute to the free-fall?
WRNL: Speaking of injuries... we have them everywhere. JuCo transfer (I know you SnyderCats will appreciate that) Aaron Wimberly stepped up to be the lead back then promptly got hurt. I believe this week will be the first week we have the same offensive line starting as the previous week, and Jarvis West hurt his MCL as soon as he started shining in the return game and is out for a month. Much maligned offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham has called a couple of good series this season, but hasn't put it together for a game, and let's just say halftime adjustments aren't a strong suit of his. It's gotten bad enough that players are semi-calling him out on the lack of adjustments, which was preceded by Mess trying to throw QB Sam Richardson under the bus every chance he gets despite the fact that Richardson is playing passably well for being... wait for it... injured.
Jon: Surely there are still bright spots though, yes? Who's worth keeping an eye on Saturday?
WRNL: Quenton Bundrage is awesome. The redshirt sophomore receiver is on pace to break Todd Blythe's single season receiving TDs record of 9 (seriously) and has been extremely impressive at this stage of his career. I would also say Jarvis West and and Aaron Wimberly, but they're both injured and you definitely won't see Jarvis, and probably won't see Wimberly.
Jon: What sort of philosophy is Rhoads adhering to this season with playcalling and formations? Any clever (or frustrating) wrinkles?
WRNL: Does the "suck really bad on offense so Kirby Van Der Kamp gets to demonstrate how awesome of a punter he is to NFL scouts" philosophy count? The big innovation this offseason was supposed to be the pistol offense after bringing in Chris Klenakis (of Nevada fame), but it turns out when your running backs can't stay healthy and your line can't block (or stay healthy), it loses a lot of its luster. Also gone seems to be the riverboat gambler mentality Rhoads once had. You saw him kick the field goal instead of going for the killshot against Texas, and not go for it on a couple of makeable fourth downs in other games. He's only called one (horribly executed) FG fake this season and zero punt fakes, which is disappointing. You gotta get our best player Kirby more rushes!
Jon: What are you most concerned with from the purple side of the line of scrimmage Saturday?
WRNL: Uh, the fact you guys appear to have an offensive identity? Also, it looks like the passing game has finally come together a bit for you guys and our secondary has been giving up amazing amounts of pass interference calls. Defensively, it appears your yards allowed continues to go down, which is concerning given our lack of offense.
Jon: Finally, of course: how do you see Saturday playing out?
WRNL: Kansas State controls both lines of scrimmage and wins 27-17, though the score will be much closer than the game will really be... just because the Wizard feels bad for us.
Jon: We appreciate the time our agricultural brother has taken to help us understand his strange and heretical corn-fed culture this week. Alas, the flag of truce has now been lowered, and it's time to go raze some Iowa farmland... you know, for the glory of wheat. (Be sure to check WRNL for my responses to his questions!)