2014 Iowa State Cyclones Team Preview
Iowa State Cyclones
Head Coach: Paul Rhoads
2013 record: 3-9 overall, 2-7 Big 12
2013 Bowl result: None
2014 returning starters: 10 offense, 5 defense
Odds to win 2015 College Football Championship game: N/A
Odds to win 2014 Big 12 title: 100/1
Regular season wins: over 3.5 -140 / under 3.5 +110
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Last season, the Iowa State Cyclones had a terrible season with only 3 wins. The season did end on somewhat of a high note with wins over Kansas and an upset over West Virginia in overtime on the road.
Iowa State returns 10 starters on offense and 5 on defense. However, they weren’t very good on either side of the ball, and there is no where to go but up.
Last season the offense averaged 219 passing yards and 144 rushing yards along with 25 points a game. Coach Paul Rhoads hired former Kansas head coach Mark Mangino to be the new offensive coordinator.
Sam B. Richardson and Grant Rohach split the snaps at quarterback last season. Rohach threw for over 300 yards in the wins over Kansas and West Virginia, and had a great spring. He will likely see the majority of the snaps in 2014, but Richardson could step in if Rohach stumbles or gets hurt. Richardson completed 55.3% of his passes for 1,397 yards with 11 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, along with 98 carries, 342 yards and a touchdown. Rohach completed 57.6% of his passes for 1,208 yards with 8 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, along with 48 carries, 88 yards and a touchdown.
Aaron Wimberly returns as the feature back after rushing for 567 yards on 141 carries with 2 touchdowns, plus 18 catches for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Cyclones must replace Shontrelle Johnson (90 carries, 358 yards 3 touchdowns) and fullback Jeff Woody who had 5 rushing touchdowns last season. Look for DeVondrick Nealy to get more carries without Johnson and Woody. Nealy had 41 carries, 158 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 7 catches and a touchdown last season.
Wide receiver Quenton Bundrage is among the best receivers in the Big 12. Last season he had 48 catches for 676 yards and 9 touchdowns. Tight end E.J. Bibbs was second team All-Big 12 last year. He had 39 catches, 462 yards and 2 touchdowns. True freshman Allen Lazard and South Florida transfer D’Vario Montgomery will also get a lot of targets.
Last season, injuries on the offensive line forced the Cyclones to use 9 different starting offensive lines in 12 games. Iowa State hopes so many players getting playing time will lead to more consistent play in 2014. Senior center Tom Farniok is an All-Big 12 candidate.
Last year, Iowa State gave up 442 yards per game on defense and 36 points per game. The Cyclones return only 5 starters from that unit and must play much better in 2014.
Cory Morrissey will anchor the defensive line. However, the unit took a hit when seniors Rodney Coe and David Irving were kicked off the team in the spring for violating team rules.
Iowa State has a lot of depth at linebacker, but a lot of those players are freshmen and sophomores. Luke Knott made 45 tackles last season despite missing half the season. He underwent surgery on his groin and hip during the offseason but is cleared for fall practice by team doctors. Jared Brackens will also be a key contributor in the rotation.
The secondary will depend on corners Nigel Tribune, Sam E. Richardson and Kenneth Lynn. They must replace both safeties though.
Kicker Cole Netten made 13 of 18 field goals last year and returns in 2014. Freshman punter Colin Downing was one of the most recruited punters in the and chose Iowa State over Penn State. Jarvis West will return punts. Nealy will likely return kicks. Both Nealy and West had kickoff returns for touchdowns last year.
Iowa State opens the season at home against three time defending FCS champion North Dakota State. It doesn’t get any easier after that as the Cyclones play seven straight games against 2013 bowl teams, including non-conference games at Iowa and at home against Toledo. In conference, the Cyclones get Kansas State, Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and West Virginia in Ames. They travel to Oklahoma State, Texas, Kansas and TCU. It is very possible Iowa State could lose their first 8 games. The schedule doesn’t lighten up until they close the season with Kansas, Texas Tech, West Virginia and TCU. I just can’t see more than 3 wins with such a brutal schedule.
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