By Wendell Barnhouse | email@example.com
2013 record: 3-9 overall, 2-7 in Big 12.
Returning starters: 11 on offense, 6 on defense.
Top players returning: Sophomore QB Grant Rohach, senior TE E.J. Bibbs, senior RB Aaron Wimberly, senior C Tom Farniok, junior WR Quenton Bundrage, senior WR Jarvis West.
Key players to replace: WR Justin Coleman, LB Jeremiah George, P Kirby Van Der Kamp, S Jacques Washington, S Deon Broomfield.
After bowl trips in three of the first four seasons under coach Paul Rhoads, last season was a disappointment. Five of Iowa State's nine losses came by less than a touchdown and the Cyclones won their last two games of the season to avoid going winless in the Big 12.
''I think this team is very hungry,'' said Paul Rhoads, who goes into his sixth season as Iowa State's coach. ''There isn't anything about the gains we've made that's disappointing.''
While the defense had been solid in Rhoads' first four seasons, that side of the ball regressed allowing at least 31 points in six of the nine losses. Finding a productive offensive scheme also has been a struggle but the hope is that former Kansas head coach Mark Mangino will provide a boost as the team's new offensive coordinator.
"Change in itself sometimes creates energy," Rhoads said of Magino's arrival. "I think it's created energy with our guys, a real excitement about the offense. Mark [doesn't] hide the fact that ball-distribution is important to him and the offense. We've had a lot of people get touches. The more people we have involved, the more excitement and energy you get out of practices and preparation."
The starting quarterback will likely be sophomore Grant Rohach, who replaced junior Sam Richardson in the last part of 2013. Whoever runs the attack, it appears that Mangino will have a number of play makers at running back and wide receiver.
"There is the potential out there to score a lot of points, and I think Mangino does a good job … of putting people in positions to have success," Iowa State senior center Tom Farniok said. "That is the one thing coaches always talk about wanting to do and he does a really good, really good job of that."
Improving the production on offense is important considering the defense has just four returning starters for a unit that finished last in the Big 12 in points and total yards allowed.
*Iowa State opens the season at home against North Dakota State on Aug. 30. The Bison are the three-time defending national champions in the FCS and last year won at Kansas State in the season opener.
*Defensive ends Cory Morrissey and Mitchell Meyers were impressive rushing the passer in the spring game. The Cyclones need vast improvement in pressuring opposing quarterbacks as last year's team finished last in the Big 12 with just 15 sacks.
*The defensive line was lacking depth following the season and that depth was further depleted with off-season dismissals of defensive tackle Rodney Coe and defensive end David Irving.
*Defensive line coach Curtis Bray, an original member of coach Paul Rhoads' staff, died on the morning of Jan. 15. Stan Eggen was hired on Feb. 7 as the new defensive line coach.
Coach Paul Rhoads on …
Freshman wide receiver Allan Lazard, considered the top recruit of the Rhoads Era:
"I don't think he has any false dreams of being an all-Big 12 receiver in year one, but we're not going to limit him. We're going to give him every chance to start reaching his potential right away."
The three quarterbacks adjusting to a new offensive system:
"There was a lot of growth that took place through 15 practices and a lot more that has to take place, and that is OK. I think the offensive staff would tell you, in comparison to implementing this system at past institutions, they think we are ahead of schedule with what we learned and what we got done."
The quarterback competition between Grant Rohach, Sam Richardson and Joel Lanning:
"I would anticipate having him [a starter] named by the middle of August. I think we still have work to do."
|Aug. 30||North Dakota State|
|Sept. 6||Kansas State*|
|Sept. 13||at Iowa|
|Oct. 4||at Oklahoma State*|
|Oct. 18||at Texas*|
|Nov. 8||at Kansas*|
|Nov. 22||Texas Tech*|
|Nov. 29||West Virginia*|
|Dec. 6||at TCU*|