2010 Record | 5-7 (3-5 in Big 12)
Returning Starters | 14 (6 on offense, 8 on defense)
Key Losses | Losing QB Austen Arnaud is a huge hit on offense (1,703 yards passing, 289 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns), but RB Alexander Robinson (946 rushing yards, 201 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns) may be a bigger loss. The top two receivers, Collin Franklin and James Williams are also graduated. That's a lot of production to lose on offense.
Key Additions | Part of the all-impressive-name list, QB Steele Jantz may be the starting quarterback when the season starts. Jantz is a JUCO transfer, started school in January and was pretty darned good at JUCO. Right now, he's listed as the second-string quarterback behind Jerome Tiller. In reviewing the 2011 commits, the Cyclones did have a few other JUCO commits, including OL Samuel Tautolo, DT Henry Simon, WR Aaron Horne, and TE Ernst Brun.
Impact Offensive Player | It's slim pickings at running back and quarterback, the two positions that I usually look to for an impact offensive player. Thus, we'll go with three of the five returning starts of the offensive line: LT Kelechi Osemele; RG Hayworth Hicks; and RT Brayden Burris. The hope is that with three returning starts, the offense can improve on an offense that loses it's top rusher and quarterback, from 72nd in the nation in rushing offense and 95th in the nation in passing offense.
Impact Defensive Player | LB Jake Knott is the Cyclone's leading returning tackler with 130 tackles (good for 12th in the nation!), 1.0 sacks, 6.0 TFL, and 4 interceptions (led the team!). Knott broke his arm during spring practices, but I think he had plenty of time to recover and start practices this fall. I should also mention that fellow LB A.J. Klein was incredibly productive last year, with 111 tackles (32nd in the nation) and 8.0 TFL.
|Texas St. Bobcats
|@ New Mexico Lobos
|@ Kansas Jayhawks
|Texas A&M Aggies
|Kansas St. Wildcats
|@ Oklahoma Sooners
|Iowa St. Cyclones
|@ Texas Longhorns
|Oklahoma St. Cowboys
|@ Missouri Tigers
vs. Texas Tech | I have always professed my appreciation for Iowa St. head coach Paul Rhoads and that hasn't wavered after last year's rear-whipping in Ames. I think that Rhoads has the respect of his players, I think he's a pretty good coach that has said that Iowa St. is his dream job and I believe he means it. Rhoads was born in Iowa and I think he loves what he's doing.
The biggest offensive threats, other than the three starters returning at offensive line, are the receivers, who return three different starters: Darius Reynolds, Josh Lenz and Darius Darks. Collin Franklin and Jake Williams were both the best receivers last year, while Darks is the best returning starter (29 receptions, 355 yards and 1 TD), Reynolds was okay (25 receptions, 283 yards and 2 TD's) and Lenz (14 receptions, 170 yards and 2 TD's). That's not really a lot of production returning offensively.
The Cyclones lost their top two leading rushers, RB Alexander Robinson and QB Arnaud. The best returning rusher is sophomore RB Shontrelle Johnson, but he only had 35 carries last year and this is the biggest problem with the Cyclones this year, which is that there are almost no skill players that return. Arnaud was pretty darned good last year at doing what he was asked to do, which is manage the offense. QB Jerome Tiller filled in some (39 for 82, 363 yards and 1 TD) and he wasn't great. There a lot of questions about who is going to make plays for Iowa St. especially considering that the skill positions that are gone produced the 72nd best rushing offense (143.17 yards/game)
Defensively, the Cyclones return a little bit of something from the line, the linebackers and secondary. Three starters return along the defensive line, DE Jake Lattimer, NG Stephen Ruempolhamer, and DE Patrick Neal. As a team, the line was 115th in the nation in sacks (only 0.92/game) and gave up 186.33 yards/game which was good for 93rd in the nation. That's not good.
All Knott and Klein does are make tackles, the problems are thing two numbers mentioned above, which is despite the fact that Knott and Klein make a ton of tackles for the team, the rushing defense is still incredibly suspect and the hope or thought is that with a year of experience, the defense will be better.
The secondary returns three of four starters, CB Leonard Johnson, CB Jeremy Reeves and SS Ter'Ran Benton. The problems are the same for the passing defense as the rushing defense, which is that despite returning a bunch of starters, the pass defense was average, giving up 221.92 yards/game.
To give Iowa St. credit, I do think one of the things that helped keep Iowa St. in games, they were 30th in the nation in turnover margin where they only lost 17 turnovers for the year and gained 23 for the year. That's not necessarily a high total of turnovers gained, but they don't shoot themselves in the foot either. With this game being in Lubbock and with so many inexperienced players, especially on offense, I don't really know how quickly Iowa St. will get on track. The Cyclones will have played Texas in their first conference game at home, then travel to Baylor and Missouri, and then they get the Aggies at home. That's a tough stretch, especially going to Columbia and then taking on the Aggies at home.