Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads is concerned about defensing massive 6-foot-10, 283-pound Army wide receiver Ali Villanueva.
Villanueva, who started all 12 games at tackle last year for Army, is the largest player at his position in the country. And he's already caught the attention of Rhoads, who will be combatting him with a starting secondary with three players who are 5-9 and another who is 5-10. The Cyclones have no players in the secondary taller than 6 feet in their two-deep roster.
“I don’t know if I have ever gone up against any football player who is that big in stature," Rhoads said. "They certainly do present a lot of challenges for us by what they do offensively and defensively. His physical stature is definitely one of them." Rhoads said.
The Black Knights are a run-heavy team who rank seventh nationally in rushing. They are last nationally in passing, although Villanueva leads the team with two touchdown grabs and 114 receiving yards and is tied for the team lead with six receptions.
"They utilize his size by doing what they do the best and that’s run the football," Rhoads said. "His size as a blocker and the ability to get into the red-zone and throw him up a pass, I don’t know if you can even call it a jump ball situation when you are going up against a guy that big."
The Cyclones will try to contain Villanueva on the flanks with 5-foot-9, 191-pound senior cornerback Kennard Banks and 5-foot-10, 189-pound sophomore Leonard Johnson.
"Giving up more than a foot puts us at a distinct disadvantage in trying to defend that," Rhoads said. "The goal would be to keep them out of the red zone if we can.”