2011 College Football Season Preview: Iowa State Cyclones

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2010 Record: (5-7, 3-5 in Big 12)

Head Coach: Paul Rhoads (12-13 at Iowa State)

Last Bowl Game: 2009 Insight Bowl (beat Minnesota 14-13)

2010 Iowa State Preview

CFBZ Iowa State Links

Pre-Spring All-Big 12 Team

Returning Big 12 Offensive Firepower


9/3: Northern Iowa (2010 result: won 27-10)

9/10: Iowa (2010 result: lost 35-7)

9/26: at UConn

10/1: Texas (2010 result: won 28-21)

10/8: at Baylor (2009 result: won 24-10)

10/15: at Missouri (2010 result: lost 14-0)

10/22: Texas A&M (2009 result: lost 35-10)

10/29: at Texas Tech (2010 result: won 52-38)

11/5: Kansas (2010 result: won 28-16)

11/18: Oklahoma State (2009 result: lost 34-8)

11/26: at Oklahoma (2010 result: lost 52-0)

12/3: at Kansas State  (2010 result: lost 27-20)

2010 Offensive Statistics:

Scoring: 21.7 ppg (11th in Big 12, 97th in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 143.17 yds/game (8th in Big 12, 72nd in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 174.3 yds/game (10th in Big 12, 95th in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 317.4 yds/game (11th in Big 12, 99th in Nation)

2010 Defensive Statistics:

Scoring: 28.8 ppg (7th in Big 12, 74th in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 186.33 yds/game (10th in Big 12, 93rd in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 221.9 yds/game (6th in Big 12, 64th in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 408.3 yds/game (7th in Big 12, 87th in Nation)

2010 Misc Stats:

Turnover Margin: +0.50 per game (4th in Big 12, 30th in Nation)

Penalties: 51.3 yds/game (3rd in Big 12, 59th in Nation)

Returning Starters:

Offense: 5

Defense: 7

Kicker/Punter: 2

Top Returning Statistical Leaders:

Passing: QB Jerome Tiller, Jr (39 of 82 for 363 yds, 1 TD)

Rushing: RB Shontrelle Johnson, Soph (35 for 218 yds, 6.2 ypc, 2 TD)

Receiving: WR Darius Darks, Sr (29 rec for 355 yds, 1 TD)

Tackles: LB Jake Knott, Jr (130)

Sacks: DE Jacob Lattimer, Sr (4)

Interceptions: LB Jake Knott, Jr (4)

In two years under Gene Chizik the Cyclones went 5-19 and only won two conference games. In his first two years Paul Rhoads has gone 12-13 and has won six conference games. The 2009 Insight Bowl victory was Iowa State's first bowl win since 2004. On the offensive side of the football the Cyclones will have to replace a lot of production as QB Austen Arnaud, RB Alexander Robinson, TE Collin Franklin and WR Jake Williams were all seniors last year. The defensive side of the football looks much more experienced with four of the top five leading tacklers returning from last year, 10.5 of the 11 total sacks return, and 10 of the 13 interceptions from last year return. From 2008 to 2009 the defense reduced their points allowed by around 14 points.

Last year the defense gave up a touchdown per game more than they did in 2009. A key to success this year will be if the defense can return to the success of 2009. This year the in-conference slate gets a bit tougher as Nebraska exits to the left but the Cyclones have to play what all of the teams of the former Big 12 South. Can Paul Rhoads get the Cyclones to their second bowl in three years? We caught up with the Iowa State based blog Wide Right & Natty Lite to get their take on the 2011 Cyclones.

After two years, what are the general thoughts on Paul Rhoads and the job that he's done so far?

Exceeded expectations considerably. His worst year was equal to Chizik's whole tenure. Obviously we aren't "there" yet, but the program as a whole is moving in the right direction. Talent is up across the board and you can't really count our team out of a game before it starts anymore. These are important steps in building a solid, consistent winning program.

Iowa State was 10th in the league in rushing defense last year and gave up 7 more points per game than they did in 2009. Who needs to step up on that side of the football for the Cyclones this year?

The defensive line showed some flashes of brilliance, and seemed to be better than they had been the prior year. However, they still got destroyed a couple of times, most notably against Iowa and KSU. They need to continue to improve. Stephen Ruempolhamer could be the guy who takes that unit to the next level if he starts drawing double teams. Safety is a major question mark with the graduation of David Sims, but Terran Benton, a proven reliable corner/nickel player should bring some stability and a head hunting presence to the position.

The Cyclones must replace a three-year starter at QB in Austen Arnaud. Who will be the man to replace him?

It's a 2 horse race between Jerome Tiller and Steele Jantz. Tiller has been in the system for 3 years, and has long running relationships with a lot of the guys here and the coaches. He throws a decent ball, and his quick on his feet, but seems to lack the intangibles that his predecessor had (even though he seems to have better mechanics). Jantz is still a bit unknown, but in the Spring Game he showed what looks like a cannon of an arm, excellent escapability, and a willingness/ability to check down and wait for an open man. He seems to have the physical ability to beat Tiller out, but whether or not he can learn the offense remains to be seen.

Who are some newcomers that you think could make an immediate impact for the Cyclones this year?

Obviously Jantz, who we just discussed, but IMO the guy who is going to be making plays regardless of who is the QB is Jantz's JUCO teammate WR Aaron Horne. The guy just has a knack for getting open and making plays in space. Other notable is WR Tad Ecby, who was the gem of the recruiting class. Big, physical, catches away from the body. If he puts more weight onto his frame, he should challenge for playing time right away.

What do you see as the most pivotal games on the schedule?

UConn. It's a gut check road trip against a team that seems very tough on paper, but that ISU ultimately should be able to beat. If the boys can go out and get this game, a bowl game is within reach. If we lose, its going to be a long fall in Ames.

What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?

It's going to be very close between 5-7 and 6-6. Rhoads and Wally Burnham can coach and the defense will be the best they've had in his three years at Iowa State. Having gotten to 5 wins w/3 games left to play last year and not reaching a bowl was very unsatisfying. That team was really, really close despite playing a MUCH tougher schedule than 2009. Bettering that mark against a comparable schedule would be a sure sign of improvement, but even matching it would be reason for optimism in 2012.

Next Preview: Nevada

Coming in August: Big 12 Preview

Coming in August: CFBZ Top 25 Countdown

2011 Team Previews

ACC- Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Maryland, Miami, NC State, Wake Forest

Big 12- Baylor, Kansas St, Texas Tech

Big East- Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, USF

Big Ten- Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota,Northwestern, Penn St, Purdue

C-USA- East Carolina, Houston,Marshall, SMU, Southern Mississippi, Tulane, UAB, UCF

Independent- Army

MAC- Akron, Ball St, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Temple, Toledo, Western Michigan

MWC- Air Force, New Mexico, UNLV, Wyoming

Pac-12- Arizona, Oregon St, UCLA, Washington

SEC- Kentucky, Ole Miss

Sun Belt- FAU, FIU, Louisiana, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Troy, ULM, Western Kentucky

WAC- Fresno St, Idaho, San Jose St


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