Xavier Worthy and Adonai Mitchell can exploit an inconsistent Iowa State pass defense
Despite facing one of the highest-graded cornerbacks in the Big 12 in the win over TCU last week, Worthy had one of his best games of the season. Worthy put up over 100 receiving yards on All-Big 12 TCU cornerback Josh Newton in Texas’ three-point win in Fort Worth on Nov. 11.
That was the first time Newton allowed over 100 receiving yards in pass coverage during his two years as an all-conference performer for the Horned Frogs.
TCU eventually adjusted to give Newton some safety help in pass coverage against Worthy in the second half last weekend. But the extra help for Newton also opened up more opportunities for Mitchell to make big plays in the passing game for Texas.
Worthy could be in for another big game this weekend against Iowa State, who plays a similar defensive scheme to the Horned Frogs. Heacock is credited as being the innovator who brought the modern 3-3-5 flyover defensive scheme to the Big 12 at Iowa State during the 2010s.
TCU also runs a version of the 3-3-5 defense, which Ewers and the Longhorns had a lot of success against (especially in the first half) in their win in Fort Worth last weekend.
A similarity between Iowa State and TCU’s defense in the secondary is the reliance on an All-Big 12 corner to hold up in man coverage. Iowa State’s version of Newton, whom they trust in one-on-one man coverage, is senior corner TJ Tampa.
Tampa is the highest-graded cornerback in pass coverage in the Big 12 this season.
Iowa State often trusts Tampa to hold up in one-on-one coverage while providing more help to the opposite side of the center.
That train of thought will be tested this weekend when Texas puts two of the most talented NFL-level receivers in Worthy and Mitchell, against Iowa State’s corners. Iowa State hasn’t faced a group of talented skill players as good as Texas’ this season.
Iowa State has been prone to giving up a lot of passing yards in Big 12 play this season. The Cyclones have allowed over 250 passing yards against three of the four highest-ranked passing offenses they’ve faced in Big 12 play (Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Kansas).
If Iowa State gives Texas a chance to get the ball to Worthy in one-on-one coverage, they’ll take that all day, regardless of the matchup. The same could be said for Mitchell.