Texas Tech Football | Iowa St. Cyclones Preview

AMES, IA - NOVEMBER 18: Jared Barnett #16 of the Iowa State Cyclones throws a pass against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the fourth quarter at Jack Trice Stadium November 18, 2011 in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by Reese Strickland/Getty Images)
Iowa St. At a Glance
Home | Ames, IA (Big 12 Conference)
2011 Record | 6-7 (3-6)
Offensive Starters Returning | 7
Defensive Starters Returning | 5
2012 Offensive MVP | RB James White
2012 Defensive MVP | LB A.J. Klein

This is my yearly attempt to educate myself on the teams on the Texas Tech schedule. I am not an expert about any of these teams, but rather I have spent a few hours studying the team and it is more likely than not that I have something wrong. Please correct me in the comments.

Important Links | NCAA Stats (60th Total Offense; 95th Total Defense) . . . Spring 2012 Depth Chart for Offense, Defense and Special Teams . . . Pre-Snap Read #81 . . .

The Coach | Ah yes, my yearly diatribe about how much I like Paul Rhoads, who is becoming an elder statesman in the Big 12 as this is his third year as the head coach and I think that Rhoads is making improvements, albeit small improvements. The one thing that I thought was interesting, via Pre-Snap Read, is the margin of victory in wins from the 2012 season, other than the Texas Tech game (har har har). Iowa St. won five games by six points or less, including UNI by 1, Iowa by 3, UConn by 4, Kansas by 3 and Oklahoma St. by 6. What that means is that Iowa St. is winning close games, but on the other hand, that could be something to watch as usually winning close games is something that can flip from year to year.

Still, I really do like Rhoads as a coach. He seems to motivate his players and I do think that they play up to their potential more times than not and that's really all you can ask from you coach. With Rhoads, you just hope that he can slowly but surely chip away at the recruiting and try to improve the level of athlete each year.

Not only that, but Rhoads has grown a sweet beard in the offseason and a terrific mustache.

DTN 2012 Previews
* 9/1/12 Northwestern St. Demons (Preview)
* 9/8/12 @ Texas St. Bobcats (Preview)
* 9/15/12 New Mexico Lobos (Preview)
* 9/29/12 @ Iowa St. Cyclones (Preview)
* 10/6/12 Oklahoma Sooners (Preview)
* 10/13/12 West Virginia Mountaineers (Preview)
* 10/20/12 @ TCU Horned Frogs (Preview)
* 10/27/12 @ Kansas St. Wildcats (Preview)
* 11/3/12 Texas Longhorns (Preview)
* 11/10/12 Kansas Jayhawks (Preview)
* 11/17/12 @ Oklahoma St. Cowboys (Preview)
* 11/24/12 Baylor Bears (Preview)

What We Do Know | Offensively, it was really a mixed bag on offense. The Cyclones weren't bad, 60th in total offense, but they were a little bit stymied by their quarterback play. I know what you are thinking, when Texas Tech fans saw QB Jared Barnett, we were assured that he was going to be named the All-Big 12 quarterback. Unfortunately, that's not the case and Barnett didn't have a bad year, but he and fellow QB Steele Jantz were just okay at the quarterback spot. Barnett represents the future and I think he'll progress nicely through his career, but Jantz is a senior and I'm sure he's hoping he can grab the job. ISU also has to replace Kelechi Osemele and Hayworth Hicks, Osemele being an All-American believe it or not at left tackle and I think that will prove to be a bit more difficult because Osemele was pretty good, you just didn't know it.

The leading receiver Darius Reynolds graduated, but one of the better incoming receivers last year, Josh Lenz returns and he was quite good. The tough part is that Reynolds led the team with 7 touchdowns and no other player had more than 3 receiving touchdowns. I should also note that Iowa St. is loaded at running back, RB James White returns and he was good, but Shontrelle Johnson was injured early, but very good, and bowling ball Jeff Woody also returns.

Defensively, this is a tougher task, especially along the line and in the secondary. What we do know is that returning linebackers A.J. Klein and Jake Knott are terrific, they make a ton of tackles and are the leaders of the defense. Klein averaged 8.92 tackles a game, good for 45th in the nation and Knott averaged 8.85, good for 48th in the country. That's a ton of production. But along the line, there are seniors that will essentially start, but they are largely inexperienced. The top three sackers (is this a word?) all graduated last year and this was not a situation where Iowa St. was getting to the opposing quarterback all that much. Only 17 sacks on the year, which was 116th in the nation. The other huge loss is CB Leonard Johnson, who was also really good last year and will be a significant loss.

More after the jump.

What We Do Not Know | I tend to think there are a lot of questions here, most notably who will play quarterback. I prefer Barnett, but that's because when I watched him he couldn't be stopped. Jantz has the cooler name. I'm conflicted. I'm not sure who else will step up at receiver, but it makes sense that Lunz will make that progression, but it's not a known quantity. Despite the return of Knott and Klein, the defense returns only 5 starters and that's problematic for a defense that was 95th in the nation last year. With so many departing players, I don't know how that side of the field will improve.

Best Player | This has to be Klein. He's really good and it's tough saying that it shouldn't be Klein and Knott. On offense, I like White a lot. He had a career day against Texas Tech.

Break Through Player Candidate | I'm not really sure here. If anything, you would think that it would be some player along the defensive line. Rhoads talked quite a bit about Cliff Stokes from Trinity Valley C.C. (Athens, TX) competing for a starting job and so if Rhoads likes Stokes then I like Stokes too.

Overall Fear Level With 1 Being Not Afraid At All and 5 Being So Scared Baby | It's a 6. Two awful losses for Texas Tech and I'm so scared baby that Rhoads has Texas Tech's number. Can't score on offense. Can't stop the ISU defense. In all honesty, if Texas Tech had won one of the past two games, then I think I'd be at a three and considering the overall rebuilding project that ISU has to do on defense, this should be a two just based on everything that I know at this point about Iowa St. and Texas Tech. The Cyclones are in my head, better not be that way for the team.

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