Preview 2017: Iowa State Cyclones
Previewing and looking ahead at the Iowa State Cyclones season – and what you need to know.
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What You Need To Know About The Iowa State Offense
The O didn’t do enough to pick up the slack for a mediocre defense, but it had several good moments and should be even better if the line can rebuild in a hurry.
Four starters are gone up front, and while getting back injured starter Jake Campos to the mix should help, it should take a little while before this group starts to shine. If it’s good, though, the Cyclones could be in for a massive year considering what’s returning to the skill spots.
Jacob Park is the unquestioned main man now at quarterback after throwing for 1,791 yards and 12 scores in the rotation. There’s no shuffling this time around, and now the passing game should blow past the 3,106 yards and 21 scores cranked up last year.
Getting back All-Big 12 star receiver Allen Lazard will be a large help, and now five of the top six targets are back, along with good pass-catching running backs.
The 1-2 punch of Mike Warren and David Montgomery should be fantastic. The two combined for over 1,100 yards, and now they’ll handle even more of the workload with former quarterback Joel Lanning – who subbed in to run for 518 yards and 11 scores – moving over to linebacker.
Biggest Key To The Iowa State Offense
Mike Warren needs to get back to 2015. The rushing attack didn’t drop off too much last season – only around 200-yards worse than 2015 – but it didn’t take over as many games as it should’ve behind a then-senior-laden line. David Montgomery took over as the year went on, but the ground attack needs the 1,339-yard version of Warren back.
Not quite right last year, the 6-0, 205-pounder only ran for 559 yards and three scores, only seeing the ball 16 times in the final five games. If the guy who two years ago tore up Texas Tech for 245 yards and Kansas State for 195, look out.
What You Need To Know About The Iowa State Defense
It was a struggle. The Cyclones didn’t do enough against the run, finished 102nd in the nation overall, and allowed over 31 points per game – even with two wins giving up just ten points to San Jose State and Texas Tech.
Helped by the addition of JUCO transfer Ray Lima to the interior of the line, the front four might not be a total disaster. Three starters are gone including all-stars Demond Tucker and Jhaustin Thomas – this is going to take a little while to come together.
Fortunately, the linebacking corps might be stunningly good thanks to the emergence of Joel Lanning, the former quarterback who took to the defensive side in a hurry. He’ll start in the middle, while hoping for the outside options to start getting into the backfield more.
Even after the problems at times last year, the secondary should be the strength with four starters returning to the five-man unit, including Kamari Cotton-Moya and Evrett Edwards to a great-looking safety situation. If the defensive backs are great, then the D can focusing on trying to …
Biggest Key To The Iowa State Defense
Stop the run. Finally. It’s been a problem in Ames for a long, long time, and while it wasn’t as bad as it was a few years ago, it was awful, giving up 200 yards or more seven times and 198 to Iowa.
Oddly enough, Oklahoma was the only loss against a team that didn’t score at least two touchdowns on the ground. The Cyclones went 1-6 when giving up multiple rushing scores, with the only win coming in the close call to Kansas. Over the last three years, ISU is 3-21 when giving up two ore more rushing scores.
Iowa State Will Be Far Better If …
It doesn’t get slaughtered in turnover margin. Of course, all teams have problems winning when they don’t get the takeaways, but last year, Iowa State had huge issues when it was on the wrong side of the stat. While the team was a not-awful -3 on the year, it was -10 in the losses.
How did the Cyclones lose to Northern Iowa? -3 in turnover margin. How about against Oklahoma State in the 38-31 shootout? Again, -3. On the year, Iowa State was 0-8 when it failed to come up with multiple takeaways.
Best Iowa State Offensive Player
WR Allen Lazard, Sr. – It was one of the team’s biggest wins, and it came in the offseason. The 6-5, 223-pound Lazard could’ve bolted early for the NFL with the size to go along with enough deep speed to make things happen down the field. He caught 69 passes for 1,018 yards and seven scores as a First Team All-Big 12 performer, and this year he should do even more.
Dominant over the second half of the season, he closed out with four 100-yard performances in the last five games – highlighted with ten catches against Kansas – and hitting 100 six times on the season. Steady as well as sensational, he’ll be good for at least six catches a game.
2. RB Mike Warren, Jr.
3. QB Jacob Park, Jr.
4. RB David Montgomery, Soph.
5. RB/KR Kene Nwangwu, Soph.
Best Iowa State Defensive Player
S Kamari Cotton-Moya, Sr. – The secondary should be one of the team’s biggest strengths, with the safeties full of potential all-stars. The leader of the bunch is the 6-1, 200-pound Cotton-Moya, who finished up an All-Big 12 season with 73 stops and five broken up passes and two picks. A strong hitter who’s fantastic in the open field, the only thing that’s stopped him so far is a leg injury two years ago. When he’s right, he’s a difference-maker.
2. LB Willie Harvey, Jr.
3. CB Brian Peavy, Jr.
4. LB Joel Lanning, Sr.
5. S Evrett Edwards, Sr.
Key Player To A Successful Season
OT Jake Campos, Sr. The Cyclone offensive line was okay, not great. The running game only averaged 4.3 yards per carry behind the front five, but the bigger problem was pass protection, giving up 32 sacks. Four starters are gone including all-stars Nick Feet and Patrick Scoggins off the left side, and now the shuffling begins.
Campos was supposed to be a key part of the puzzle last season, but missed the year hurt. If he’s great at right tackle, the other four spots appear to be okay. The Cyclones can’t take a step back up front.
The Iowa State Season Will Be A Success If …
It comes up with its first winning season since 2009. After four straight seasons of being 3-9 or worse, being at least three wins better is a must for the Matt Campbell era to get moving.
It’ll be a tall task in an improved Big 12, meaning wins over Northern Iowa and Akron are a must to start, beating Kansas and Texas Tech would be nice, and then coming up with a few upsets will be needed, including …
Key Game To The Iowa State Season
Sept. 28 vs. Texas – It’s the Big 12 opener on a Thursday night in Ames. While Texas will be coming off an interesting start with Maryland and USC in the few weeks, and then it has to make the trip to gear up for the nationally televised battle. The last time the Longhorns went to Iowa State, they came away with a 24-0 loss. For Iowa State, with at date at Oklahoma to follow, this might be a win-or-else moment to avoid a rough Big 12 start.
2016 Iowa State Fun Stats
– Sacks: Opponents 32 for 188 yards – Iowa State 19 for 100 yards
– Fumbles: Iowa State 13 (lost 8) – Opponents 8 (lost 4)
– Punt Return Average: Iowa State 9.42 yards – Opponents 4.40 yards