Grant Rohach. Rohach has started making a name for himself leading the Cyclones to two late season victories last year and outperforming the other QB candidates in the spring. His first action was seen versus Baylor (game after ISU played Texas Tech) where he went eight of 13 for 65 yards, one TD and one interception. In those final two games, he went a combined 40 of 59 (68% completion) for 631 yards, six TDs, two interceptions and rushed 11 times for 77 yards and one TD.
Wide receivers. It seems the Cyclones have started to stockpile quality depth at their receiver positions with guys like TE E.J. Bibbs, Quenton Bundrage, and Jarvis West, as well as adding blue-chip freshman Allen Lazard and South Florida transfer D'Vario Montgomery. Those three returning receivers accounted for 44% of the receptions, 47% of the yards and 63% of the passing TDs in 2013.
Aaron Wimberly. Wimberly looks to be the number one returning RB for the Cyclones. He's got decent size and speed and looks to thrive under new offensive coordinator Mark Mangino's offense. Wimberly carried the ball 141 for 567 yards for just over 4 yards per carry.
What do we know about the Cyclone offense?
Iowa State hired former Kansas head coach Mark Mangino as their new offensive coordinator, and it couldn't have happened quick enough. Iowa State has been near the bottom of the Big 12 in numerous offensive categories, and if the Cyclones are going to turn things around, they're going to need to score more than 23 points per game (like they did in 2013). In other leagues, that may be enough, but not in 2014 Big 12.
Mangino has the track record to suggest that he can turn this offense around, as he led Kansas to an Orange Bowl appearance (although he missed the meat of the Big 12 South that season) and coordinated an offense at Oklahoma that won a national championship. If Mangino can improve Iowa State's offense like I think he can, the Cyclones just became a more difficult out. Also, the offensive line should be much improved after having to start nine different guys throughout the season, bringing back a lot of experience depth that Mangino can build around.
What do we know about the Cyclone defense?
The Iowa State defense (and whole team for that fact) has been known lately as a pretty disciplined defense that doesn't beat itself. Unfortunately for the Cyclones, they've usually had a defensive stud that led the unit like a Jake Knott, a Jeremiah George or an A.J. Klein. No such guy exists on the current roster, at least that we know of.
We know their defensive line was decimated with two of their starters being removed from the team. And as Texas Tech fans, we know all too well about the importance of having a stout defensive line. The linebacker unit includes a familiar name, but in the form of a younger brother in Luke Knott. In the secondary, you'll see Sam Richardson back, as well as true sophomore Nigel Tribune.
How will the Cyclones affect Texas Tech?
The Cyclones will be hosting the Red Raiders in November in Ames. It's probably going to be a cold one, and Iowa State has a nice home field advantage in Jack Trice. Texas Tech will have just played Oklahoma, with Baylor the only one left on the schedule. Iowa State will have just come off a bye week with West Virginia and TCU remaining on their schedule. At this point in their schedule, they're probably going to be sitting around 4 or 5 wins, with 3 games remaining. We know the Cyclones will be battling to make it back to a bowl in 2014 and we will get a fiesty battle in Ames. I expect a hard-fought game from the Cyclones, but with the Red Raiders pulling away in the second half and probably finishing 14+ points ahead.
Where will the Cyclones finish?
I expect this team to be battling for bowl eligibility late into the season, maybe into that last week. I think the Cyclones can make it to a bowl if their offense improves and they can find a playmaker on defense (a few lucky breaks wound't hurt either). This team is going to fight for everything they can and could possibly end up 7-5, although I think 6-6 is more likely and maybe even just missing the cut at 5-7.
|Aug. 30||North Dakota St.|
|Sept. 6||Kansas St.|
|Sept. 13||@ Iowa|
|Oct. 4||@ Oklahoma St.|
|Oct. 18||@ Texas|
|Nov. 8||@ Kansas|
|Nov. 22||Texas Tech|
|Nov. 29||West Virginia|
|Dec. 6||@ TCU|