With a win this weekend, No. 7 Texas football and head coach Steve Sarkisian can get one step closer to getting a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game and remain in contention for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Texas will have a tough test ahead this weekend on the road against the Iowa State Cyclones in Week 12.
Iowa State is among the top five or six schools in the Big 12 this season after getting off to a slow start in non-conference play. After losing two of their first three games and three of the first five this season, head coach Matt Campbell and the Cyclones have won four of their last five.
Iowa State has problematic players for No. 7 Texas football to deal with on both sides of the ball in Week 12
In their last game, Iowa State dominated the BYU Cougars on the road in Provo on Nov. 11 by a score of 45-13. Each of Iowa State’s four wins in the last five games saw them top their opponents by double digits.
Iowa State’s only win that came by single digits this season was a Week 4 triumph over head coach Mike Gundy and the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Oklahoma State was just starting to figure it out on offense early in the season when Iowa State defeated the Pokes, though.
Texas has won four games in a row heading into Week 12, but three of those four victories came by single digits. Sark and the Longhorns have shown an inability to put opponents away when they’re up by double digits early in the third quarters of games.
Texas can’t slip up in the second halves of games as it has in a few of the last few weeks. Iowa State has some players that can cause issues for the Longhorns.
Here are three problematic Iowa State players against the Longhorns in Week 12.
Jeremiah Cooper, S
Iowa State looks likely to get back an extremely important player in their secondary this weekend against Texas. When he took the stand for his press conference on Nov. 14, Campbell said Iowa State will likely get the Big 12 leader in interceptions this season, sophomore safety Jeremiah Cooper, back from an injury that held him out of the last couple of games.
Campbell said Cooper is “more likely to play than less likely to play” against Texas this weekend.
If Iowa State does get Cooper back this weekend, that adds a major punch to their secondary. Cooper is one of the most disruptive safeties in pass coverage in the Big 12 this season. He’s taken a big leap in his development as a ball-hawking field safety who is a perfect fit in the back end of Iowa State’s 3-3-5 flyover defensive scheme.
Cooper is the most versatile defensive back in pass coverage for the Cyclones. Iowa State will line him up in the deep safety spot, out of the slot, and to the field side, depending on what’s needed from him on certain plays.
If Cooper is active this weekend against the Longhorns, he’ll be looking to make some big plays to juice up the crowd under the lights in primetime at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. He’s got over one interception per game he’s played this season, and he’s averaging two forced incompletions.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers has struggled in the past against these 3-3-5 flyover defenses. And the Iowa State secondary might be the most disruptive the Longhorns have faced this season, at least that plays the 3-3-5 flyover formation.
From a production standpoint, no one is doing it better than Cooper among Big 12 safeties this season. He’s the second-highest-graded safety on defense in the Big 12 and the highest-graded at his position in coverage.