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SPRING FOOTBALL: Let's Welcome Todd Sturdy to Iowa State


Todd Sturdy instructs quarterbacks Marshall Lobbestael (9) and Jeff Tuel (10) to not act like complete spazzes out there (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Good morning, Mr. Sturdy! It's that time of year again; time for spring practice, time for you to get acclimated in your new role as passing game coordinator at Iowa State. Feels DAMN good to be a Cyclone, doesn't it? Actually in your case, I'm sure you're just glad to have another BCS job so quickly.

Soooo... things didn't work out so well for you as offensive coordinator for Washington State, did they? No, wait! Don't worry, it's totally understandable! It's hard to win at Washington State, and the last few years have been a complete dumpster fire in Pullman. You should find it much easier to win in Ames.

Hey, don't laugh! Iowa State football is on an upswing right now, and there's a lot of decent young talent on the offense. In fact, let's take a look at what you'll be working with. Lots of two and three-star receivers, with the occasional four-star JUCO thrown in for kicks.

So unless something goes horribly awry (cough, Albert Gary, cough), you should have 11 scholarship receivers to work with in 2012. That's eight players with time in the Cyclone offense, plus three incoming freshmen.

Now why don't we take a look at what you bring to the table. Well well, I see Washington State had the 9th ranked passing offense in the country last year. Very impressive. That's up from 35th in the country in 2010 and, umm... 90th in the country in 2009 and 101st in the country in 2008.

But passing stats don't really tell the whole story, do they? The Cougars were behind in a lot of games during the past four seasons. Were you passing the ball strictly to catch up because your opponent was already blowing you out of the game, or was that the gameplan from the beginning?

In Washington State's four wins last season, you guys jumped out to an average 17-point lead in the first half and never let up. Washington State averaged 412.75 passing yards on 39.5 attempts and 169 rushing yards per game in those four wins. That's encouraging! Of course, those four wins were against Idaho State, UNLV, Colorado, and Arizona State. Not exactly powerhouses.

In Washington State's eight losses last season, you averaged 277.125 passing yards on 41.375 attempts per game, but only 78.75 rushing yards per game. And here's the weird thing; despite only being down by an average of 5.3 points at halftime, the Cougars lost every game by an average margin of 16.5 points. And it's not like you completely abandoned your running game after getting down in the first half. In Washington State's four wins, you averaged 34.75 rushing attempts per game; in your eight losses, WSU averaged 31.375 rushing attempts per game.

So it looks like you just REALLY like the passing game, 'cause your running game was pretty much non-existent last year. But that's okay! You only need to worry about the wide receivers at Iowa State. If you can get the receivers to catch the ball like the Cougars did last year, you'll have plenty of fans in Ames.

And I see you have a lot of familiarity with Iowa. From Tipton originally, 85-40 record in your 12 years as head coach at St. Ambrose, interesting... Coach Rhoads loves the Iowa guys, huh? But you certainly have a solid resume, especially for a position coach. Hell, in your one season as offensive coordinator at Eastern Washington, you set school records for pass completions (287) and touchdown passes (36).

Plus, you also have the West Coast connections that a school like Iowa State needs. ISU just lost their main California connection to Notre Dame, I hope you can help fill that void. While it looks like you're only credited with bringing in four recruits to Washington State, all four were from California or Washington. Of your nine other targets, seven were from California. So you clearly have some familiarity with the high schools and JUCOs out West. And look, if you're going to be a position coach at ISU, you'd better have some recruiting ties to states that have a hell of a lot more football talent than Iowa. Iowa State needs to pull in recruits from Texas, Florida and California if they're going to compete in the Big XII.

Because that's really all Iowa State needs from you, Mr. Sturdy. Iowa State needs someone who can bring in a few West Coast recruits per year and coach the receivers up to a level where they can compete in the Big XII. Last year, the Cyclones ranked 73rd in the nation in passing yards per game; good for 7th in the Big XII. Believe it or not, that was an improvement over the previous years, when Iowa State ranked 95th in passing YPG in 2010 and 94th in 2009. So Iowa State saw improvement last year, but still lags too far behind the rest of the Big XII and the nation.

So yeah, you have a bit of a challenge ahead of you Todd. But I like you. I like your resume, I think you'll fit in well at Iowa State. The Cyclones have talent at running back and on the offensive line. If you can get the wide receivers to make modest improvements during the next year (top 50 PYPG?), you can consider your job a success.