2016 Iowa State Cyclones Football Preview

Team Info
Iowa State Cyclones
Head Coach: Matt Campbell
2014 record: 3-9 overall, 2-7 Big 12
2014 Bowl result: None
2014 returning starters: 6 offense, 8 defense

Betting Info
Odds to Win 2017 College Football Championship Game: 4000/1
Odds to Win 2016 Big 12 Championship: 135/1
Regular Season Wins: over 3 1/2 -135 / under 3 1/2 +115
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Iowa State begins a new era with Matt Campbell as the head coach.
Iowa State begins a new era with Matt Campbell as the head coach.

After a combined 5 wins in the last two seasons, Iowa State dismissed coach Paul Rhoads. The university hired Matt Campbell from Toledo to turn the program around. It will not be an easy task but under Campbell, Toledo became a MAC powerhouse. Last season, Iowa State went 3-9 with the highlight being a 24-0 shutout of Texas. One of the many losses was to Campbell’s Toledo team in double overtime.

Here is a more in depth look at Iowa State in all three phases of the game, plus a look at the schedule.

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Offense

Iowa State averaged just over 408 yards per game and 25 points per game. They simply didn’t have the firepower to compete with the high powered offenses of the Big 12. Tom Manning is the new offensive coordinator after serving as Campbell’s offensive line coach at Toledo last year.

Joel Lanning took over as the full time starter midway through the season and showed flashes of being a good quarterback. Lanning threw for 1,247 yards with 10 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, and also rushed for 330 yards on 94 carries with 4 touchdowns. Lanning split time with Sam B. Richardson last year, but Richardson has graduated. True freshman Zeb Noland is the back-up.

Running back Mike Warren led all freshmen in rushing last year with 227 carries for 1,339 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus he made 14 catches. He will be the centerpiece of the Cyclones’ offense again. Iowa State loses Joshua Richardson who had 7 rushing touchdowns last year as a short yardage back. Freshman David Montgomery will get most of the back-up carries, but Lanning will also get a lot of carries.

Top receiver Allen Lazard is back after making 56 catches for 808 yards and 6 touchdowns. Dondre Daley is also back after making 24 catches for 244 yards and 2 touchdowns. Trever Ryen, Brandon Harris and Carson Epps will also be in the mix at receiver. Justin Chandler is the tight end.

The biggest question mark on offense is the line who loses 111 games in starting experience. Left tackle Jake Campos was supposed to be the only returning starter but he is out indefinitely with a leg injury. Iowa State allowed 42 sacks last year, so there is room for improvement.

Defense

Campbell brought his defensive coordinator from Toledo Jon Heacock for the same position in Ames. He gets eight starters back but the defense was not very good last year. The Cyclones gave up 453 yards per game including 267 passing and 33 points a game.

Tackle Demond Tucker had 13 tackles for loss last year including 6 sacks. Pierre Aka is slated to start at the other tackle. The ends will be Jhaustin Thomas and Gabe Luna. Thomas showed a lot of potential in 8 games last year.

The linebacking unit took a hit when Jordan Harris graduated and decided to transfer in June. He had 70 tackles last year. Willie Harvey showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman last year at the Will position. D’Andre Payne and Kane Seeley will also start at linebacker.

The Cyclones are very deep at cornerback with Brian Peavy, Jomal Wiltz, Nigel Tribune and Jay Jones. Peavy led the team in tackles with 82. Safety Kamari Cotton-Moya could be All-Big 12 in 2016.

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Special Teams

Kicker Cole Netten mad 14 of 19 field goals last year but made his last 7 field goals. Colin Downing averaged 40.9 yards per punt and landed 20 inside the 20. Ryen will return kicks and punts again. He had a punt return for a touchdown last year.

Schedule and Outlook

Iowa State opens the season at home against Northern Iowa, before road games at rival Iowa and TCU. They then host San Jose State. October gets even tougher with home games against Baylor and Kansas State and road games at Oklahoma State and Texas. In November, Iowa State hosts Oklahoma, Texas Tech and West Virginia, and travels to Kansas.

While Iowa State should be better, I am not sure they will improve much on their three wins from last year with such a difficult schedule. I will give them four wins but anything more than that would take some upsets.

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