IOWA STATE (3-3, 0-2 Big 12)
Head Coach: Paul Rhodes, first season at Iowa State
Last Season: 2-10, 0-8 (sixth, Big 12 North)
Series: Tied 4-4
Line: A pair of seniors achor the Cyclone line in tackle Nate Frere (6-1, 291) and right end Christopher Lyle (6-4, 257). Frere, a three-time letterwinner, is in his second full season as a starter; he also started the first three games as a freshman in 2006. He has 47 tackles and 4.5 sacks in his career, most of which came last season (26 stops, three sacks). This season, Frere has 12 tackles, including 2.5 stops behind the line and one sack. ... Lyle is in his second season with the Iowa State program after starting his collegiate career at Butler [Kan.] Community College where he earned all-conference honors. He leads all Cyclone defensive linemen and ranks sixth overall on the squad with 40 tackles, including a team-best 6.0 stops behind the line. He also has two sacks, two fumble recoveries and two pass breakups. Lyle recorded 38 tackles and led the Cyclones with five sacks last season. He also blocked a field goal attempt in Iowa State's 15-13 victory over arch-rival Iowa. ... Junior Bailey Johnson (6-2, 267) starts at nose guard after missing the entire 2008 season due to injury. The Cyclones defensive scout team player of the year in 2006, Johnson has five tackles on the season. Sophomore Stephen Ruempolhamer (6-3, 287), who was born in the Netherlands, also will see time at the nose; he has nine stops on the year. ... The left end position also is a platoon spot for the Cyclones. Sophomore Patrick Neal (6-0, 227), a converted tight end, made his first career start two weeks ago against Kansas State. He has nine tackles in six games this season. Also look for redshirt freshman Roosevelt Maggitt, who earned defensive scout team player of the year honors last year for the Cyclones. He has seven tackles on the year, all solo efforts, to go along with a pair of pass breakups. ... Junior Austin Alburtis (6-1, 266) also will see time along the line, likely spelling Frere at the tackle spot. Alburtis has 10 tackles on the season.
Linebackers: Iowa State returned two of three starters at the linebacker position, but each 2009 starter is a seasoned senior. ... Three-year letterwinner Jesse Smith (6-0, 234) anchors the unit in the middle and has enjoyed a stellar 2009 campaign. He leads the Big 12 and is tied for ninth nationally with 10.7 tackles per game with double-digit tackle efforts in four of the Cyclones six games this season. He made 15 stops and forced a fumble in the season opener against North Dakota State. Smith was slowed a bit in the next two games, recording six tackles against Iowa and three stops against Kent State. Since then, though, he's been on fire. Johnson recorded 13 tackles with a career-best 11 solo tackles against Army. He then led all players with 12 tackles against Kansas State. Last week against Kansas may have been his best all-around game to date. Johnson matched his career high with 15 tackles, intercepted one pass and broke up another. He has recorded at least 79 tackles in each of the past two seasons, starting all 12 games each season. ... Josh Raven (5-11, 223) patrols the strong side and has 20 tackles on the season. Look for him to be active behind the line as he has 5.5 tackles for loss, including a pair of sacks for 19 yards. Raven, who had five tackles and a sack against Iowa, forced a fumble in the Kansas State game. He is tied for ninth in the Big 12 with 1.1 tackles for loss per game. While he has 23 career games of service, he is in his first season as a regular starter. ... Fred Garrin (6-2, 227) works on the weak side and ranks second on the team with 39 tackles this season. He also has 4.0 stops behind the line, two forced fumbles and three pass breakups. Garin, a Shepherd, Texas, native, had five tackles with two stops behind the line and two pass breakups last week against Kansas. He had a season-high nine tackles against Army. Garin started all 12 games last season for the Cyclones and ranked third on the squad with 63 tackles, including six for loss, one sack and two interceptions. ... Senior Derec Schmidgall (6-1, 228) and true freshman Jake Knott (6-2, 234) are among five players that should see time at linebacker in the reserve rotation. Knott had six tackles against Kent State.
Secondary: Junior David Sims (5-9, 208) starts at strong safety in his first season with the Cyclones. Sims, a Gainesville, Fla., native, initially signed with Oklahoma out of high school; he sat out the 2008 season as a redshirt, transferred to Butte Community College at season's end and then to Iowa State over the summer. He leads the team with three interceptions this season, each of which came in the season's first three games. Two of his interceptions came against Iowa. Sims is tied for third in the Big 12 and tied for 24th nationally in picks per game (0.5). He ranks fourth on the team with 38 tackles, including 2.0 stops behind the line. ... Senior James Smith (5-8, 191) is the Cyclones free safety, where he has started each game since the beginning of the 2007 season. He was slotted to be the starter as a freshman in 2006 but broke his leg during preseason drills and did not return to the field until the season's eighth game. Smith is tied for second on the team with 39 tackles this year, and he also has one interception. He tied his season high with nine stops two weeks ago against Kansas State, and he had seven tackles last week at Kansas. Smith has 209 career tackles to his credit, including 139 solo stops. ... Senior Kennard Banks starts at left cornerback; he saw action in eight games with four starts there last season. Banks has 34 tackles on the season, fifth on the squad, with one stop behind the line and one interception. He logged a career-best eight tackles last week at Kansas. Two weeks ago against Kansas State, he snagged his first career pick and had five tackles. Sophomore Ter'ran Benton (6-0, 197) also will see time on the left corner; he has 25 tackles and two sacks this season. ... Sophomore Leonard Johnson (5-10, 189), who earned Freshman All-America honors last season as a kick returner, starts at right cornerback where he made five starts last season. Johnson has 29 tackles on the season, 26 of which were solo efforts; he also has one interception, which came against Army. He had six tackles and forced a fumble last week at Kansas. Junior Michael O'Connell (5-11, 211) also will see time on the right corner; he has 15 tackles on the year.
Previewing the Opponent: Iowa State Offense
Head Coach: Paul Rhodes, first season at Iowa State
Last Season: 2-10, 0-8 (sixth, Big 12 North)
Series: Tied 4-4
Quarterback: Junior Austen Arnaud (6-3, 224) is among the top duel-threat quarterbacks in the league, if not the nation. He holds Iowa State's career completion percentage record (59.5) and ranks in the top 10 of several other ISU career statistical categories. This season, he has completed 87 of 157 pass attempts (55.4 percent) for 1,080 yards with eight touchdowns and four interceptions for a 124.92 passing efficiency rating. Meanwhile, he has 389 yards on 83 rushes with six touchdowns. Perhaps most impressive about Arnaud is his ability to avoid negative plays. Consider: 157 passes and 83 rushes; 240 total offensive plays; he has been sacked twice. In fact, Iowa State leads the nation in fewest sacks per game (0.33), allowing only those two in six games this season. Arnaud had a nightmare performance earlier this season against Iowa State in which he completed only 10 of 22 passes for 79 yards and no touchdowns with a career-high four interceptions. However, those are the only picks he has thrown all season. In four games since, he has completed 61 of 107 passes (57.0 percent) for 774 yards and six touchdowns, completing at least one scoring pass in each game. At the same time, he has 255 yards on 57 rushes with five touchdowns in the last four games, scoring at least one rushing touchdown in each game. Last season, Arnaud established several school single-season records in his first full season as starter. He completed 61.6 percent of his passes (247-of-401) for 2,792 yards with 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions; he also had 401 yards on 109 rushes with five touchdowns in 2008. Arnaud had a so-so day in Waco last season, completing 21 of 41 passes (51.2 percent) for 176 yards with one touchdown and one interception; the Bears limited him on the ground to 13 yards on three totes. ... Behind Arnaud is redshirt freshman Jerome Tiller (6-3, 194), a product of San Antonio's Robert E. Lee High School. Tiller has played in three games this season, completing 7 of 18 passes for 71 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
Running Back: Iowa State leads the Big 12 in rushing with 209.5 yards per game on the ground. Baylor last in the Big 12 in rushing defense, allowing 171.2 yards per game. That means the Bears will have their hands full trying to stop the Cyclones' rushing attack, which is spearheaded by junior tailback Alexander Robinson (5-9, 187). The Minneapolis, Minn., native ranks second in the Big 12 and 15th nationally with 109.0 rushing yards per carry, gaining 654 yards on 11 carries (5.9 ypc) with six touchdowns. He also has seven receptions for 137 yards and a score. Alexander has four 100-yard games on the season. The lone exceptions were the season opener (83 yards) and the Kansas State game two weeks ago when he was limited by a groin injury but still managed 47 yards on four carries. With that groin injury still bothering him last week at Kansas, he churned out 152 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. Alexander already has matched his season rushing touchdown total from each of the past two seasons (six in 2007, six in 2008) and is nearing his 2008 rushing yardage total (703). ... Alexander and Arnaud get the majority of Iowa State's carries, together logging 194 of the Cyclones' 244 total rushes (79.5 percent). Redshirt freshman Jeremiah Schwartz (5-11, 232) has nearly all the remaining carries, gaining 172 yards on 41 attempts with no scores. True freshman Beau Blankenship (5-8, 201) has four carries for 11 yards.
Receivers: Two Cyclone wideouts are favorite targets for Arnaud - senior Marquis Hamilton (6-3, 224) and junior Jake Williams (6-1, 199). Hamilton leads the team with 22 receptions (four shy of his season total from last season) for 382 yards and three touchdowns. Two of his three touchdown receptions came in the season opener against North Dakota State when he had a season-high 97 yards on four catches. The other scoring grab came last week at Kansas, one of four receptions for 69 yards on the day. Hamilton's next reception will be the 100th of his career. He had 26 catches for 301 yards and three touchdowns last season, and he caught 45 passes for 534 yards and one touchdown as a sophomore in 2007. ... Williams, meanwhile, ranks second on the squad with 21 receptions. After not lettering or recording a reception in his first two seasons, Williams has steadily built himself into a proven receiver for the Cyclones. He snagged his first career touchdown reception at Kent State, one of four catches for 51 yards on the night. He also had a touchdown two weeks ago against Kansas State when he had five receptions for 61 yards. Last week at Kansas, Williams recorded a career high with seven receptions, those going for 58 yards. ... Sophomore Darius Darks (6-1, 184) also starts in the Cyclones' three-wide spread offense. After a slow start this season (no catches in first two games, one catch in each of the next two, and no catches two weeks ago against Kansas State), Darks had five catches for 35 yards and a touchdown last week at Kansas. Last season, he had at least one reception in all 12 games, finishing the season with 49 catches for 477 yards and one score. ... Junior wideout Darius Reynolds (6-2, 201), a junior college transfer, settled in nicely to the Iowa State offense with six and seven catches in the season's first two games, respectively. However, he sustained a season-ending injury in practice the following week. ... Senior tight end Derrick Catlett (6-4, 243) is a very viable option in the passing game with 53 career receptions for 505 yards and three touchdowns. This season, he ranks fourth on the squad with 12 catches for 163 yards and one score. ... No other Cyclone has more than six receptions this year.
Line: As previously mentioned, Iowa State leads the Big 12 in rushing and has allowed fewer sacks than any other team in the nation. A large reason for that is a very large, very athletic, very veteran offensive line. ... Left tackle Kelechi Osemele (6-5, 349) and right tackle Scott Haughton (6-3, 338) both are sophomores but neither is new to the Cyclones' line. Osemele played extensively as a redshirt freshman last season, while Haughton started the final four games last year as a true freshman. ... Senior center Reggie Stephens (6-3, 333) anchors the unit. He has logged 34 consecutive starts at three different positions over the past three seasons; Stephens saw time at both guard spots last season and at left guard in 2007 before settling into the middle this season. ... The guard spots are filled by juniors Alex Alvarez (6-2, 295) and Ben Lamaak (6-4, 318). Alvarez saw action in 10 games last season, making seven starts at center. He began his collegiate career at Kilgore Community College. Lamaak started the first eight games last season before sustaining an injury. Like the other four starters, he has started each game this season. Lamaak is an interesting story; he was a first-team all-state selection at tight end in high school. However, he played quarterback the final six games of his senior season and finished with 848 yards and seven touchdowns passing to go along with six rushing scores. Evidence of his athleticism. ... Osemele (Houston-Langham Creek), Stephens (Rowlett-Jesuit College Prep) and Alvarez (League City-Clear Creek) all hail from the Lone Star State).
Last month we learned about a North Texas couple that was planning to name their soon-to-be-born son Robert Griffin in honor of the Baylor quarterback. Well, little Robert Griffin Hoskins was born Tuesday in Fort Worth, the same day RG3 was in Houston having surgery on his knee.
Father, Jason, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "I still haven't gotten that No. 10 little jersey yet. So I'm going to have to find one of those somewhere." We wish Momma Hoskins and the newest Baylor fan the best of luck.
Baylor Chart Climbers
Here's a quick look at some Bears who are climbing career record charts this season:
CAREER TACKLES: Joe Pawelek currenlty ranks 4th all-time in tackles with 359, needs 7 to pass Maurice Lane and take over 3rd (21 shy of 2nd, Ray Berry, and won't catch Mike Singletary in 1st with 662).
CAREER KICK RETURN YARDS: Mikail Baker, on the very return that he injured his knee vs. NSU, broke the school record for kick return yards with 1,648. Tenth on that same list is teammate David Gettis, who has 932 and is 107 yards shy of 9th place.
CAREER PUNTING AVERAGE: Junior Derek Epperson ranks 4th all-time at Baylor in punting with a 42.31 average. His season average is 47.1 and he is within range of passing Kyle Atteberry's 42.55 average in the 3rd spot.
CLOSING IN: David Gettis needs 8 catches to enter the career receptions Top 10 listing (currently 83) and Blake Szymanski is 123 yards shy of entering the career passing yards Top 10 (currently 3,661).
Briles On ISU, No Mention Of "Skunk Creek Shootout"
RALLY UP AND FIGHT HARD: Head coach Art Briles and selected players met with the media Tuesday to answer questions about Saturday's game at Iowa State. Coach said the Bears will, "play hard for each other...they're going to rally up and they're going to fight hard." [Read Briles quotes here / Watch Briles video here]
SKUNK CREEK SHOOTOUT: There was no mention Tuesday of the "Skunk Creek Shootout," a label once given to the Baylor-Iowa State series in jest by then-Baylor Defensive Coordinator Bill Bradley. In 2005 Bradley concocted the moniker by looking up a waterway in Ames (actual name is Skunk River) to counter the media attention being given another Big 12 matchup being played the same weekend.
Big 12 Bowl Lineup / Great TV Ratings
BOWLS: The Big 12 Conference Tuesday announced its bowl agreements/lineup for the 2010-13 seasons. Read about the seven-bowl lineup here.
TV RATINGS: Television ratings from last Saturday for the Dallas-Fort Worth market reveal that the Baylor-Oklahoma game on ABC was the most-watched college football game of the day. The game drew 219,219 viewers in D-FW, besting the Florida-LSU game on CBS (192,647) and the Iowa-Michigan game on ABC (99,645).
Quick Pro Update, On To Iowa State, Homecoming Set
PROS: Another quick update on last week's update on former Baylor players in the pros. Free agent kicker Matt Bryant has landed in the UFL, signing with the Florida Huskers last week. Bryant joins another BU alum, Willie Andrews (UFL bio) on the Tuskers roster. As an aside, the Tuskers won their debut game 35-13 over the New York Sentinels Saturday.
IOWA STATE: After Saturday's loss at No. 19 Oklahoma, the Bears have begun work for a second-straight road game, this week vs. Iowa State in Ames [Cyclones are 3-3, 0-2, game kicks at 6 p.m. CT Saturday, no television coverage].
HOMECOMING: In case you missed it, Baylor's Homecoming game vs. No. 14/16 Oklahoma State has been set for 11:30 a.m. on the 24th for a national telecast on VERSUS.
Recent Features, & JoePaw's T-shirt From ESPN...
Below we attempt to catch up on some good features published recently on Bears' players. Also included is a video feature on transfer running back Terrance Ganaway...
JOEPAW PIC: Also, All-America linebacker Joe Pawelek received in the mail Monday his ESPN Gameday t-shirt, signed by Gameday crew Rece Davis, Mark May and Lou Holtz, that he earned for his performance in the season-opening win over Wake Forest. See the pic here.