Iowa State Cyclones 2016 Preview and Prediction
COLLEGE FOOTBALL 2016 PRESEASON TOP 25
#71 Iowa State Cyclones
Big 12 PREDICTION
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.
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.
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.