Scouting Texas: The QB run game is especially tricky

AMES — As has rightfully been the case, there has been an intense amount of attention paid to Iowa State’s newish offense leading up to what I feel like is as important of a game for a coaching staff as I can remember when the Cyclones take the field against Texas on Saturday at 6 p.m. (on FS1).

But how about matching up Iowa State’s defense up to Texas’ offense?

The quarterback run game is something to be concerned about.

You guys remember the old “Belldozer” package at Oklahoma?

Over the last few weeks, Texas has been working in what it calls the “18-Wheeler” package that offensive coordinator Jay Norvell also installed at Oklahoma (for Blake Bell) back in the day.

The “18-Wheeler” features Texas’ backup quarterback, a guy who torched Iowa State for 416 total yards a year ago, junior Tyrone Swoopes.  Swoopes ran the football seven times for 50 yards and three touchdowns out of this package in last week’s 23-9 win over Kansas State. 

“It’s a very difficult package for people to defend especially when we go into multiple personnel groups mostly because they don’t know who to put in the game to stop it,” Norvell said. “I’m really proud of Tyrone. He’s always had a great attitude.”

That comment comes off of Texas’ benching of Swoopes after a 38-3 loss at Notre Dame to start the season in favor of freshman Jerrod Heard. 

“Great athlete,” Iowa State defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said of Heard. “I really don’t want to know how fast he is, because he is a tremendous athlete. He’s not the best passer in the league, but he don’t try to be. If it’s not open, he’s gone. He’s gone. So that’s going to be a challenge, there’s no doubt about it.” 

The highlight from Heard’s freshman campaign was a 163-yard and three-touchdown rushing outing in a 45-44 loss to California on Sept. 19. He also completed 20 of 31 passes that night for 364 yards through the air and looked impressive while doing it.  

Since that game though, Heard has only thrown for over 100 yards once — 119 to be exact in a 30-27 loss to Oklahoma State on Sept. 26. He’s a 58.8 percent passer on the season who has tossed three touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Longhorns possess the 122nd ranked pass offense in college football.

So what’s Iowa State’s game plan for that quarterback run game?

“You can’t spy on him,” Burnham said. “Other people have spied on him and, heck, they can’t catch him. I mean, so why waste a guy? Let’s everybody go to him and (tackle) him as fast as we can.”

With Iowa State’s new-look offense that looks to be run heavy and Texas being unable to pass the football so far this season, I’m expecting a Big Ten type of football game on a chilly Halloween night in Jack Trice Stadium. 

Should be fun. 

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