Iowa State Cyclones Preview 2016

Oct 31, 2015; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back Mike Warren (2) out runs the Texas Longhorns cornerback Kris Boyd (2) during the fourth quarter at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones beat the Longhorns 24-0. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 31, 2015; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back Mike Warren (2) out runs the Texas Longhorns cornerback Kris Boyd (2) during the fourth quarter at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones beat the Longhorns 24-0. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State football preview for 2016, including keys to success for the Cyclones, best players and season prediction.

10 ISU Players You Need To Know | ISU Preview: New Coach, New Identity?

What You Need To Know About The Iowa State Offense

There’s no real secret to what the new coaching staff wants to do. Run the ball, control games, and run the ball some more. Be efficient more than sensational, at least early on. New offensive coordinator Tom Manning should be able to handle that.

That means RB Mike Warren should become a superstar – at least if everything works out correctly. After him is a thin group of average options, but Warren came out of almost nowhere last year to shine. The hope is that a few backs rise up early on this season.

The line is okay, but it’s hardly settled yet needing late summer to put the right pieces into place. There’s good versatility and a nice blend of talents to play around with. Step One is to pave the way for Warren. Step Two is to keep someone from hitting the quarterback after allowing 42 sacks.

While the receiving corps isn’t going to be as good as it looked going into last season, it should be excellent with Allen Lazard a true go-to target to lead a veteran crew. They’ll make the quarterback situation stronger with Joel Lanning the almost certain starter, but the job is still open in fall camp.

Biggest Key To The Iowa State Offense
The downfield passing game has to be more dangerous. It’s comparing apples to oranges, Bears to Cyclones, but Baylor averaged 9.7 yards per pass last season. TCU averaged 8.7 yards. Oklahoma averaged 9.1, Oklahoma State 8.9, and Texas Tech 8.1 – that’s what Iowa State has to compete with. Last season the Cyclones averaged just 6.6 yards per pass with way too much dinking and dunking. Somehow, there has to be more of a downfield passing game while also keeping the mistakes to a minimum and let the running game do the work. No problems there.

What You Need To Know About The Iowa State Defense

Defensive coordinator Jon Heacock has a ton of work to do with a D that finished 107th in the nation and got destroyed through the air, finishing 111th in both pass defense and pass efficiency defense. However, the secondary might be the strength of a veteran defense starting with CB Brian Peavy and enough talent around him to improve the stats and production by leaps and bounds.

The pass rush has to do its part on a more consistent basis after improving over the second half of the season. DT Demond Tucker could grow into the team’s best defender as the season rolls on, but a killer on the outside is a must. There should be a good veteran end rotation, but is there a superstar to make offensive coordinators worry? Not quite yet.

As good as the defensive backfield and the experienced defensive line could and should be – at least compared to last season – the linebacking corps should be the biggest positive depending on the situation and alignment. With options and depth, the Cyclones should be set here.

Biggest Key To The Iowa State Defense
The secondary has to start coming up with a few big plays. The defensive backfield is going to be as good as any the Cyclones have had in a long time, with a nice mix of veterans and decent athletes. It didn’t translate into production last season, but with the return of a healthy Kamari Cotton-Moya at safety, and with good depth, this is a better-equipped group. Last year, the D came up with just five picks and allowed 28 touchdown passes, but just two scoring throws were allowed in the three wins. This goes hand in hand with …

Iowa State Will Be Far Better If …

It always wins the turnover margin. That goes for just about every team, but considering the Cyclones don’t have the firepower most Big 12 teams do, they can’t afford to give away easy chances. They were -11 in turnover margin being on the right side of it just one time – a +1 in the win over Texas. The defense didn’t do enough to come up with big takeaways, and the results were disastrous after being a -1 overall over the previous three seasons.

Best Iowa State Offensive Player

RB Mike Warren, Soph. – It took a little bit for Warren to rise up into a factor, and he was on fire after rushing just nine times in the first two games. Once he got into a workhorse groove, he came up with six 100-yard games in the final ten, doing everything he could to carry the attack even when nothing else was working. After carrying the ball 227 times, he’ll likely touch the ball around 300 times if he can hold up.

Best Iowa State Defensive Player

DT Demond Tucker, Sr. – While he doesn’t make a ton of tackles, he’s quick, gets behind the line, and is enough of a disruptive factor to collapse the pocket and be a good part of the front four highlighted by four tackles for loss against Oklahoma State. Built for the nose with a compact 296 pounds on his 6-0 frame, he’s okay at holding up and occupying double teams, but he’s better when it’s his job to screw up offenses.

Key Player To A Successful Season

QB Joel Lanning, Jr. – The Cyclones have to keep up the pace. Kansas, Kansas State and Texas had worse passing games in terms of yards, but only the Jayhawks and Wildcats were less efficient. Lanning doesn’t have to throw for 5,000 yards, and he’s not going to have to bomb away, but as long as he’s able to keep the passing game going, hit his third down passes, and answer scoring drives with scoring drives – be a game manager – the offense that averaged a good 408 yards per game should be even more effective against the teams with the bigger attacks.

The Iowa State Season Will Be A Success If …

It finishes up with a bowl appearance. 2012 was the last bowl game, but with a decent defense, a few great offensive playmakers, and the energy of a new coaching staff, the Cyclones should be able to fight their way up to six wins. Beating Northern Iowa, San Jose State, and Kansas will be a must for a good base of wins, and with four home games in the last five dates, and six in the last nine, the schedule works out fine.

Key Game

Oct. 29 vs. Kansas State – It’s going to take a few upsets to have any shot of getting into bowl range, and it’s going to take a win over Kansas State on Homecoming to get there. It’s the start of the run of four home games in five weeks, and it comes five days before having to deal with Oklahoma. With Kansas, and then home games against Texas Tech and West Virginia to close, there could be a good run with a win over the Wildcats.

2015 Iowa State Fun Stats

– Second Half Scoring: Opponents 193 – Iowa State 110
– Punt Return Average: Iowa State 17.4 yards – Iowa State 6.3 yards
– Time of Possession: Iowa State 31:32 – Opponents 28:28

Season Prediction For 2016

What’s going to happen to Iowa State football this season? Check out what the final record is going to be …