Iowa State Cyclones
Head Coach: Paul Rhoads
2011 Record: 6-7 overall, 3-6 Big 12
2011 Bowl Result: Lost 27-13 to Rutgers in Pinstripe Bowl
Odds to Win Big 12 Championship: 75/1
All Odds Courtesy of Bovada
Last season, Iowa St had an up and down season. They won their first 3 games by a combined 8 points, lost their next 4 by double digits, won 3 in a row, and lost 3 in a row to finish 6-7 with a 27-13 loss to Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl. It would have been a forgettable campaign for Paul Rhoads’ Cyclones, if not for one night in November when Iowa St sent seismic waves throughout college football with a shocking upset.
On a cold Friday night, the undefeated and #2 ranked Oklahoma St Cowboys came to Ames. Earlier that day, a plane crash had tragically claimed the lives of OSU’s women’s basketball coach and his top assistant. Despite such devastating news, Oklahoma St jumped out to a 17-7 lead at halftime. The Cowboys let the Cyclones hang around though, and it went into overtime. After both teams scored in the first overtime, OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden threw an interception, the fifth Cowboy turnover of the game. Iowa St scored 3 plays later to pull off the 37-31 upset. The loss kept the Cowboys out of the BCS Championship game.
Iowa St always seems to pull off upsets like that one, but they always seem to lose games they shouldn’t too. I guess, they probably should have beaten Rutgers in the bowl game, but that was more like a home game for Rutgers. The game was played in Yankee Stadium, and the Scarlet Knights play in nearby New Jersey. There were some near upsets though, like a 20-19 squeaker over Northern Iowa and an uninspired 13-10 win over 2 win Kansas. Of course, Iowa St also beat Iowa and Texas Tech in addition to the upset over Oklahoma St.
Last season, Iowa St’s offense was average at best. They passed for 212 yards a game, and rushed for 174 yards. The Cyclones were 90th in scoring with 22.7 points a game. Despite this, Urban Meyer saw this and said I gotta get that offensive coordinator on my staff. He hired Iowa St OC Tom Herman to run his offense at Ohio St. Presumably, Herman will have better talent at Ohio St than he did with the Cyclones. Rhoads promoted receivers coach Courtney Messingham to offensive coordinator for the Cyclones. Messingham has said he wants to simplify the passing game, in order to improve it. However, so far it looks very similar to what the Cyclones ran last year.
Last season, Iowa St used two quarterbacks. Senior Steele Jantz started the first 7 games. He completed 53.3% of his passes for 1,519 yards with 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Jantz had 84 carries for 216 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns, both came in the Northern Iowa. He was sacked 17 times. He battled a foot injury during those games and he was ineffective. In the Texas A&M game, he started off 0 for 4 and was benched in favor of sophomore Jared Barnett. Barnett ended up starting the next six games and the bowl game. He completed 50% of his passes for 1,201 yards with 6 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Barnett ended up being the second leading rusher for the Cyclones with 104 carries for 437 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked 10 times. Barnett threw for 376 yards with 3 touchdowns and two interceptions, and rushed for 84 yards in the upset over Oklahoma St. In the bowl game he started of 2 for 7 for 23 yards and was benched in favor of Jantz.
The two entered fall camp with both having a chance to be the starter. Rhoads announced this week that Jantz will be the starter, but Barnett could also see some snaps if Jantz struggles. Redshirt freshman Sam Richardson might be the best quarterback on the roster. He combined for almost 3,400 rushing and passing yards with 39 touchdowns as a senior in high school.
Junior running back James White had 159 carries, 743 yards, and 8 touchdowns. He also caught 21 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown. He rushed for 148 yards against Baylor, and 138 yards in a 41-7 rout of Texas Tech. Junior Shontrelle Johnson was supposed to be the feature back last year but suffered a neck injury in the fourth game and was out for the rest of the season. He ended up with 247 yards on 51 carries. If healthy he can be a dangerous weapon. Junior fullback Jeff Woody had 90 carries, 381 yards, and 6 touchdowns. He had two rushing touchdowns in the Oklahoma St upset, including the game winner.
The Cyclones must replace leading receiver Darius Reynolds who had 43 catches, 695 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Senior Josh Lenz will be the go-to receiver. He had 39 catches, 510 yards and 2 touchdowns. He even threw a touchdown pass. Senior Jerome Tiller missed the entire season last year because of academics. The converted quarterback has the potential to be one of the best receivers in the unit. Jarvis West had 25 catches for 141 yards. Aaron Horne had 38 catches for 431 yards. He broke his collarbone in the off-season and might not be ready in time for the regular season. Albert Gary has 23 catches, 287 yards, and 2 touchdowns last year. He plead guilty to robbery in May and was sentenced to probation. As of yet, he hasn’t been suspended or kicked off the team. Senior tight end Kurt Hammerschmidt had 13 catches last year, but could get more targets.
The offensive line must replace left tackle Kalechi Osemele and right guard Hayworth Hicks. Both were drafted by NFL teams, the Ravens and Colts respectively. The line returns only 52 games of experience. Tackle Brayden Burris, center Tom Farniok, and guard Ethan Tuftee do return. The line could regress losing two all-conference performers. That could be costly as the line was the only above average part of the offense last year.
Although the Cyclones were 82th in scoring defense allowing just under 30 points a game and 95th overall allowing 427 yards a game, that was more a reflection of the high powered offenses Iowa St faced every week in the Big 12. The defense improved a lot in the second half of the season, under coordinator Wally Burnham. Beginning with the Texas A&M game, Iowa St did not allow more than 33 points in any game for the rest of the season. The Cyclones held high powered offenses like Texas Tech (7 points), Oklahoma St (31), Oklahoma (26), and Kansas St (30), well below their season averages.
Iowa St couldn’t get any pass rush last year. As a team, they only had 56 tackles for loss, and 17 sacks. Burnham uses a 3-3-5 defense. The line has to improve a lot from what they did last year. End Roosevelt Maggitt returns after tearing his ACL in the season opener last year. He should improve the pass rush. her had 30 tackles in 2010. Junior Willie Scott could step in until Maggitt is ready to come back healthy. He had 34 tackles with 4.5 for loss last year. David Irving and Devin Lemke. Jake McDonough will be the nosetackle. He had 35 tackles, with 4.5 for loss and 2 sacks. Clayon Laing and Brandon Jensen will also be in the rotation.
Iowa St has one of the best linebacking duos in the Big 12 if not the country. Senior A.J. Klein was the co-defensive player of the year in the Big 12 last year with 116 tackles, 7.5 for loss, 2 sacks, six broken up passes and a 78 yard pick six against Missouri. Senior Jake Knott was first team All-Big 12 last year with 115 tackles, 4 for loss, 2 interceptions and 4 forced fumbles. You could start anyone at the other linebacker with those two, but it turns out sophomore Jevohn Miller could be just as talented. He has never started a game and only had 2 tackles last year. he has the potential to be great. C.J. Morgan, Deon Broomfield, and Jeremiah George will also see time in the rotation.
Senior corner Jeremy Reeves made 70 tackles, 2 interceptions and broke up 7 passes. Jansen Watson and Clifford Stokes will platoon at the other corner. Free safety Jacques Washington had 90 tackles and broke up 8 passes last year. Durrell Givens will start at strong safety. Deon Broomfield and Jared Brackens will platoon at nickelback.
Redshirt freshman Chris Moore and true freshman Cole Netten will compete at kicker to replace Zach Guyer who made 11 of 16 field goals last year. Kickoff specialist and long distance kicker Grant Mahoney is also gone. Netten has the stronger leg, and could be both the placekicker and handle kickoffs.
Punter Kirby Van Der Kamp averaged 42.7 yards per punt last year with 21 inside the 20. He had a lot of touchbacks last year, and his average dropped from 45.7 two years ago.
The kick return unit had 3 players that averaged over 25 yards per return. Aaron Horne, josh Lenz, and Jarvis West will handle the majority of punt and kick returns.
Iowa St has a potentially tough opener against Tulsa at home. Then they travel to in-state rival Iowa, before hosting Western Illinois. In Big 12 play, The Cyclones host Texas Tech, Kansas St, Baylor, Oklahoma and West Virginia. They travel to TCU, Oklahoma St, Texas, and Kansas.
With an average offense and a mediocre defense, Iowa St overachieved last year to get to 6-6 and become bowl eligible. Looking at their schedule, I can’t see Iowa St winning more than 4 or 5 games. However, they are always dangerous at home in Ames.
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