The glorious game of football is nearly upon us, and there’s a lot to be excited about this upcoming season for Iowa State.
Back come a plethora of skill position players, not to mention the entire backfield and nearly all of the receiving corps. A few key playmakers were lost to graduation, but with the fresh new depth chart full of Matt Campbell recruits, we’ll soon have one foot out of the past.
Last year’s 3-9 season has been chewed up, spit out, and firmly supplanted in the rear view mirror. What lies ahead in the front windshield for this Cyclone team are big opportunities. I don’t know about you, but I hope you fans are jumping on for the ride!
Here are FIVE reasons to be optimistic about this upcoming season
If you’ve been living under a rock, you missed that Iowa State brought in two of its best recruiting classes in the last couple years. What comes with that loaded talent is fierce competition, much-needed depth, and more athleticism.
For the first time in a long time, we see legitimate Big 12 bodies in the two-deeps and bigger, stronger, and most importantly FASTER players on the roster. Campbell hasn’t shied away from building his program from the inside out, as is evident by his infatuation for offensive and defensive linemen. That will pay off huge dividends in the near future.
Names like JaQuan Bailey, Matt Leo, Deshaunte Jones and David Montgomery are all young studs who Cyclone fans know well, but if they become household names regionally/nationally, they could pave the way for future talented Cyclone recruits.
Back for their final stage clad in cardinal and gold are a multitude of senior leaders, among them Allen Lazard, Kamari Cotton-Moya, Trever Ryen, Jake Campos, J.D. Waggoner, and Joel Lanning.
Coach Campbell has preached he wants to build a foundation from the ground up, and these leaders have been exemplary role models for the underclassmen.
What goes unnoticed are the off-season workouts without the coaches (as practice time is regulated by NCAA), and hearing buzz around Ames, these seniors have taken their peers under their wings and worked harder than what is asked of them.
That never happened with the previous staff.
One of the most glaring holes in last year’s team was a talent gap from first- to second-string, and 30-45 minutes into most games, it was evident by the lack of execution on both sides of the ball.
The offensive and defensive lines equally shared this discrepancy, but now have serviceable backups who have spent time under this regime and built their bodies via strength and conditioning coach Rudy Wade.
The secondary is still very strong, and the linebacking corps added a LANRAM to the mix. The defensive line still has some holes, but bigger bodies like defensive ends Matt Leo and Eyioma Uwazurike (both 280-pounds plus), add girth to a unit that will require their services late in games.
The skill positions on offense are full of young talent, but the offensive line is a work in progress. It sounds like there’s a solid group of seven linemen who are interchangeable at multiple positions, and with badass Tom Manning at the helm, that allows me to sleep at night.
For the first time in a LONG time, the ISU football coaching staff has all of their assistants back for successive seasons.
Something that was overlooked with previous staffs was the vulturous lifestyle of assistants leaving for bigger and better opportunities. Joel Lanning had four offensive coordinators in four years, and it seemed every off-season the Rhoads staff lost an assistant or two.
Some of those significant names for a good bar bet: Tom Herman, Bobby Elliott, Chris Ash, Chris Klenakis, Yancy McKnight, and Mark Mangino.
Consistency in any coaching staff is paramount to building success not just for one year, but for multiple, and our not-so-good-friends to the east pay up when the time comes to keep theirs. Hopefully Jamie Pollard and our new university president will make sure to open up their pocketbooks.
Looking at the upcoming schedule, it appears the first four weeks will determine a bowl berth for Campbell and company. Obviously, the Super Bowl against in-state rival UNI is big, Akron (on paper) should be a victory, and toss-ups with Texas and Iowa (both at home). Playing under the lights of Jack Trice will no doubt give a leg up to ISU, but if they can win one (or both), getting to a bowl will be much easier to attain going into conference play.
You can realistically pencil in three wins (UNI, Akron, Kansas), but after that the Big 12 slate (and Iowa) are full of question marks. I see a lot of unknowns from the likes of TCU (coming off down year), Texas Tech (Kliff Doll Kingsbury on the hot seat), Baylor (what isn’t wrong with the Bears) and Texas (new coaching staff).
ISU has some ample opportunities to steal what is ripe for the picking, and if they can win three (or four) of those first four games, the Campbell choo-choo train will be coming full steam ahead.
With a gun to your head, where would you bet on ISU at 5.5 Wins for the 2017 Season? OVER or UNDER
This poll is closed
Lets go to the Beaches for a Winter Bowl!
(Overconfident Cyclone Fan Every Offseason) We got this Guys - we can get 6 wins
(Dad Voice) I don't know about that Campbell guy yet...
(Grandma Voice) Welp, there's always next year!