AMES - Coming off an embarrassing loss at home against one top-10 team and now preparing to face another this Saturday on the road, the Iowa State football team may be without one of its best and most dynamic players.
Running back Alexander Robinson will likely be a game-time decision with a foot injury that he sustained in the first half of the 68-27 thrashing of the Cyclones (3-3, 1-1) by then-No. 10 Utah last weekend.
"Nay, if I had to guess right now," said ISU head coach Paul Rhoads at his Monday news conference when asked to gauge Robinson's chances of playing, "and at best he'll be limited."
X-rays on his foot came back negative, but Robinson will still be saddled with a walking boot this week to lessen the load as he tries to make himself available for Saturday's 6 p.m. kickoff against No. 6 Oklahoma (5-0, 1-0) in Norman. The game will be televised by Fox Sports Net.
The senior was already nursing an ankle injury on the same leg as the troublesome foot. He's no stranger to injury as a groin strain a year ago limited him through much of the second half of the season and forced him to miss the Cyclones' 9-7 upset of Nebraska in Lincoln.
"Not uncommon for him to understand how to fight through this and prepare himself," said Rhoads.
"In his mind, I can guarantee you he thinks he'll be playing Saturday."
Robinson, who ranks sixth on ISU's all-time rushing yardage list and has accumulated a team-high 449 yards this season, was unable to put weight on the foot immediately following the loss to the Utes, but has since been able to run in a SwimEx therapy pool.
"(He's) probably better than anticipated after the game (against Utah)," said Rhoads. "But it will certainly be a day by day progression, and we'll see where he is by kickoff on Saturday night."
Whether or not Robinson plays, Cyclone fans can expect to see plenty of backups Shontrelle Johnson and Jeff Woody.
The highly-recruited Johnson, who will also handle kick returns, is second on the team in rushing with 179 yards and sports a lofty 7.5 yards-per-carry average. Woody, a former walk-on, has 144 yards and averages 4.4 yards per carry.
The true freshman Johnson brings an electric running style that threatens to bust loose at any moment while the redshirt freshman Woody is more of a physical, north-to-south rusher.
"We both have different running styles and both bring good running styles to the table," said Johnson. "A one-two punch could be something."
Whichever of the three backs are on the field, don't expect to see much difference in the Cyclones' offensive approach.
"There will be no change in our preparation or gameplan moving forward with Shontrelle and Jeff Woody being able to do what they do," said Rhoads.
Tiller sticks at No. 2
Despite battling a knee injury, redshirt sophomore Jerome Tiller remains starter Austen Arnaud's primary backup.
Tiller has been dealing with a knee injury for nearly three weeks, and third-stringer James Capello relieved Arnaud late in the loss to Utah.
Rhoads said Tiller could have played, but with the lopsided score, he thought it best to leave Tiller on the sideline.
Time set for Texas tilt
The Cyclones' game at Texas on Oct. 23 will start at 11 a.m. The game will be broadcast by Fox Sports Net.