Running back Mike Warren
Texas faces the top freshman rusher in the country in Iowa State running back Mike Warren. The redshirt freshman began the season quietly with only nine carries for 28 yards in his first two games. Warren had a breakout game in Week 3 against Toledo, putting up 126 yards on 21 carries. He’s been rolling since then and is the No. 2 rusher in the Big 12. Warren’s 153.8 average rush yards per game is third in the nation. Warren was also added to the Doak Walker Award watch list earlier this week. He is the only freshman candidate for the award, which is given to the nation’s top running back. The Longhorn defense needs to be prepared for Iowa State to utilize Warren heavily in its running game.
Defensive end Dale Pierson
Warren isn’t the only Cyclone receiving national attention. Senior defensive end Dale Pierson was named to the Ted Hendricks Award midseason watch list this week, which honors the top defensive end in the country. Pierson is 11th in the nation in sacks per game with 0.93 and has 6.5 total sacks on the season. He also recorded a tackle-for-loss in every game he’s played this season for a total of 10 for a loss of 57 yards. Pierson has 27 total tackles this year, and he’ll likely be a key part of the Cyclone defense as it looks to stop Texas’ tough run game Saturday.
Receiver Allen Lazard
Sophomore Allen Lazard is making an impact for Iowa State as a wide receiver and on special teams. Lazard is currently the Cyclones’ top receiver with 406 yards and three touchdowns on 29 catches. He’s averaging 16.9 punt return yards per game – the most in the Big 12 — and has 152 yards as a punt returner. Lazard could be dangerous for the lackluster Longhorn special teams and secondary.
Quarterback Joel Lanning
Redshirt sophomore Joel Lanning just found out this week he would start for the Cyclones. Redshirt senior quarterback Sam Richardson struggled against Baylor, completing 3-of-11 passes for 12 yards. Lanning took over for Richardson in the second quarter and led a Cyclones comeback in the second half. He completed 12-of-17 for 144 yards to cut Iowa State’s deficit from 35-0 to 45-27. Lanning’s solid performance in the loss to Baylor landed him the starting job against the Longhorns. Texas’ defense will need to capitalize on Lanning’s inexperience and put pressure on him to force mistakes.