2009 Iowa State Cyclones Football Preview
2008 Record: (2-10, 0-8)
2008 Bowl: none
Coach: Paul Rhoads (First Season at Iowa State, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tom Herman
Defensive Coordinator: Wally Burnham
Other Key Returnees: C Alex Alvarez, TE Derrick Catlett, TE Collin Franklin, DT Nate Frere, WR Marquis Hamilton, OT Matt Hulbert, WR Houston Jones, G Ben Lamaak, DE Rashawn Parker, LB Jesse Smith, G Reggie Stephens
Key Losses: LB Michael Bibbs, OT Doug Dedrick, S Brandon Hunley, C Brandon Johnson, RB Jason Scales, CB Chris Singleton, WR R.J. Sumrall, DE Kurtis Taylor
Iowa State had to scramble to find a new coach after Gene Chizik split after two relatively awful years in Ames. The result was the homecoming of Coach Paul Rhoads. Coach Rhoads is an Iowa native and spent some time as an assistant with the Cyclones before heading out to Pittsburgh and Auburn to be their defensive coordinators. Now back home, he has the unenviable job of trying to turn around a program that needs all the help that it can get.
Iowa State's Strengths:
Coach Chizik was building up the offense and this is still a relatively young group. That means they at least have potential. Quarterback Austen Arnaud is a decent quarterback and a better playmaker. He threw for 15 touchdowns last year and rushed for five more. Now that he is an upperclassman the pressure will be on for him to truly become the leader of this offense. And the implantation of a spread offense should fit right into his skill set. His top receiving threat, R.J. Sumrall, is gone, but Darius Darks and Houston Jones are both capable receivers. The running game also has potential with the return of Alexander Robinson who rushed for 703 yards as a sophomore. The offensive line did a surprisingly good job last year for a unit that started a trio of underclassmen. This year they should be better.
Iowa State's Weaknesses:
Coach Rhoads is a defensive guy and his top priority will be shoring up a defense that was tenth or worse in the conference in just about every major statistical category. The plan is to find a way to generate more of a pass rush so the opposing quarterbacks do not have all day to pick apart Iowa State’s secondary. Sacks were rare for ISU last season and the staff hopes that senior ends Rashawn Parker and Christopher Lyle can pick up their production. Defensive tackle Nate Frere is also an option to get into the backfield. Do not be surprised if there is more blitzing from experienced linebackers Jesse Smith and Fred Garrin this year if the front four can not do it on their own.
The Bottom Line for the Cyclones:
Free safety James Smith is the leader of the secondary and Zac Sandvig is a capable player who should do fine stepping into the strong safety role. The pass defense was so bad last year in part due to the fact that two freshmen were spending most of the time on the corners. It would be extremely beneficial if Leonard Johnson and Ter’ran Benton were helped out by a consistent pass rush, but if those two can use their experience as freshmen and turn into quality corners as sophomores, Iowa State could pull off a surprise or two in the fall.
By Joel Welser
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