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COLLEGE FOOTBALL 2016 PRESEASON TOP 25

#71 Iowa State Cyclones

NATIONAL FORECAST

#71

Big 12 PREDICTION

#9

HEAD COACH: Matt Campbell, First Season | OFF. COORDINATOR: Tom Manning | DEF. COORDINATOR: Jon Heacock

Previewing Iowa State’s Offense in 2016 
 

Matt Campbell made it very clear on the day that he was introduced as Iowa State’s head football coach: This is a program that will have success running the football. He has a great starting point in Mike Warren, a sophomore who ran for more yardage than any other freshman running back in college football last season.

Joel Lanning, who started half of his sophomore season in 2015, looks to be a very capable dual-threat Big 12 quarterback. Lanning is a bulldozer of a runner but needs to be more accurate than the 55 percent mark he finished with last year. “We have seen him have great success on the football field,” Campbell says. “Now we need to harness his ability.”

Iowa State is loaded at wide receiver, led by Allen Lazard, who should be one of the best pass catchers in the Big 12 in his junior campaign. Senior Dondre Daley is another capable target.
 
It’s the offensive line that has people in Ames concerned, and rightfully so after the unit lost a combined 111 starts from last season. Left tackle Jake Campos is the only Cyclone returning to this unit who has more than one start to his name. Due to graduation and attrition, Campbell’s offensive staff essentially has to start from scratch up front, which is a major problem for any football team at any level of the game. Regardless of how the summer goes, the Campbell staff will likely be playing musical chairs on the offensive line all season long. 

 

, which includes an in-depth look at all 10 conference teams, features and predictions for the upcoming season.

Previewing Iowa State’s Defense in 2016 
 

Eight starters return for an Iowa State defense that should take a significant step forward after ranking 107th in the nation last year. The Cyclones should be average-to-strong up front and very good on the back end. 
What happens in the middle at linebacker is the great unknown, and the question marks about this group grew after Jordan Harris decided to transfer in June. Willie Harvey at Will has a lot of potential, but he needs to work on the mental aspect of the game with a new coaching staff. 

Demond Tucker, the 2015 Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year, is one of the best tackles in the Big 12 and will carry the front four. Jhaustin Thomas has as much potential as any defensive end that Iowa State has seen in years. 
In Brian Peavy, Jomal Wiltz, Nigel Tribune and Jay Jones, Iowa State has four quality cornerbacks, which is key in the Big 12. Meanwhile, Kamari Cotton-Moya is an All-Big 12-caliber free safety. 

 

Previewing Iowa State’s Specialists in 2016 
 

There isn’t much margin for error at Iowa State, so when games come down to a chip-shot field goal, the Cyclones need to be consistent. Kicker Cole Netten struggled with that early last year before ending the season on a 7-of-7 streak after a 7-of-12 start. There’s no drama here, though. Netten, a senior, is the guy, while junior Colin Downing is a quality punter. Junior Trever Ryen is not only a versatile offensive player, but he also has the potential to be a game changer on punt and kick returns.  

Final Analysis
 

On his way out the door, former head coach Paul Rhoads predicted that the Cyclones would go to a bowl game in 2016. That was before injuries and attrition severely impacted the offensive line, but his point still stands: This is a talented football team, especially at the skill positions. Once again, the Cyclones will face one of the tougher schedules in college football; however, if a few bounces go their way, Rhoads could end up being right. One thing is for sure: After bringing in the top-ranked recruiting class in school history after being on the job for only two months, Matt Campbell has an energetic fan base fully in his corner. 




COLLEGE FOOTBALL 2016 PRESEASON TOP 25

#99 Kansas Jayhawks

NATIONAL FORECAST

#99

Big 12 PREDICTION

#10

HEAD COACH: David Beaty, 0-12 (1 year) | OFF. COORDINATOR: David Beaty | DEF. COORDINATOR: Clint Bowen, Kenny Perry

When David Beaty took the head coaching job at , he knew the road ahead would not be easy. That belief became reality last season, as the Jayhawks went 0-12, including a loss to FCS member South Dakota State. The Jayhawks return 12 starters and Beaty now has a year of experience under his belt. But make no mistake, Kansas is a long ways away from bowl contention. Right now the Jayhawks' primary goal is to get that first win for their head coach.

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Previewing Kansas’ Offense in 2016


After losing its top three quarterbacks to season-ending injuries last season, KU had more bad luck in spring practices, as incumbent Ryan Willis was a limited participant after suffering a right wrist injury in early March. He still is the favorite to win the job after starting the last eight games as a true freshman, completing 52 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions. 

Running back Ke’aun Kinner returns as one of KU’s most proven offensive players, and he hopes that his production will improve in 2016 after he played through a torn labrum and deep thigh contusion in the second half. Kinner, who was the National Junior College Offensive Player of the Year in 2014, rushed for more than 110 yards in each of his first two games at KU before suffering his leg injury Oct. 3 against Iowa State, though he still played in every contest.

LaQuvionte Gonzalez should highlight KU’s receiving corps after sitting out following a transfer from Texas A&M, and he provides an element of speed and playmaking ability that was absent a season ago. Steven Sims and Jeremiah Booker also have taken steps forward after being thrust into major roles during their true freshman seasons in 2015.

KU offensive line coach Zach Yenser believes his players are better and more confident than they were a season ago, but that doesn’t change the reality that the unit is still young and needs to improve. Yenser does have some veterans upon whom he can rely, starting with senior left tackle Jordan Shelley-Smith, senior guard D’Andre Banks and junior center Joe Gibson.

, which includes an in-depth look at all 10 conference teams, features and predictions for the upcoming season.

Previewing Kansas’ Defense in 2016


Safety Fish Smithson is the team’s top returner defensively, as he led the nation in solo tackles per game (7.9) in 2015. Brandon Stewart returns as the top corner, though he battled injuries much of 2015.

KU’s top linemen are all sophomores, led by pass-rush specialist Dorance Armstrong, who had 3.5 sacks and four pass breakups as a true freshman in 2015. Tackles Daniel Wise and D.J. Williams also are part of a young core that was able to get early experience.

KU has some stability at its starting linebacker spots, beginning with Lawrence native Joe Dineen, who finished second on the team in tackles (86) and tackles for a loss (6.5). South Carolina transfer Marcquis Roberts returns for his senior season after ranking third in tackles last year.

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Previewing Kansas’ Specialists in 2016


After vowing that his team would overemphasize special teams, KU coach David Beaty saw the Jayhawks regress last season, moving from 121st in FootballOutsiders.com’s rankings to 127th (out of 128 teams). New special teams coach Joe DeForest has put an emphasis on his guys playing faster with freer minds, though he admits that this year could be a challenge based on personnel. Senior kicker Matthew Wyman returns, and though he has a strong leg, he’s been inconsistent with accuracy the last three seasons. The biggest question is with the team’s other kicker; DeForest was honest in April when saying KU didn’t have a punter yet.

Final Analysis
 

Beaty is entering his second year with some added pressure from an unlikely source: himself. After going 0–12 last season, Beaty upped the stakes at the beginning of spring football when he announced that he would be taking over as the team’s play-caller while demoting offensive coordinator Rob Likens. Though it’s admirable that Beaty is putting his name on the offense, he also is putting his neck on the line for both the team’s overall performance and its scoring ability. If either is disappointing in 2016, the criticism on the coach will come quickly — and could be warranted if he appears to have taken on too much before picking up his first victory as a Division I head coach.

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