2013 Iowa State Preview - Offense

Posted Jun 26, 2013

CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Iowa State Cyclone Offense

Iowa State Cyclones

Preview 2013 - Offense

- 2013 Iowa State Preview | 2013 Iowa State Offense
- 2013 Iowa State Defense | 2013 Iowa State Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: The Cyclones haven't been able to keep up the pace with the other Big 12 offenses over the years – they just don't have the firepower or the talent – but they've been effective enough at times to get by. Consistency is always an issue, and finding one thing that works is a problem, but it's a surprising attack once in a while. This season the key should be an overhauled receiving corps that loses the top three targets. However, Ernst Brun and the tight ends are a positive, and quarterback Sam Richardson is an emerging dual threat star. James White and the deep stable of backs are experienced, ultra-quick and talented, but they all need more room to work behind a veteran line that should be good if injuries don't strike. There's potential a wideout, but it could take a little while to come together for an offense that finished second-to-last in the Big 12 in yards, points and rushing.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Sam Richardson
46-79, 541 yds, 8 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: James White
99 carries, 505 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Jarvis West
31 catches, 290 yds, 3 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Sam Richardson
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior WR Jarvis West
Unsung star on the rise: Senior TE Ernst Brun
Best pro prospect: Senior OG Ethan Tuftee
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Brun, 2) Tuftee, 3) C Tom Farniok
Strength of the offense: Running Back, Starting Line
Weakness of the offense: Wide Receiver, Run Blocking


The Iowa State offense found something late in the year, and it caused a massive changing of the guard. Steele Jantz was in the mix early on, but he graduated. Jared Barnett started three games, but he ended up leaving after the writing was on the wall - Sam Richardson was the main man. The 6-2, 205-pound sophomore didn't do much of anything until late in the year, and he only came up one win over Kansas, but he was a playmaker completing 58% of his passes for 541 yards and eight scores with just one pick, while showing off his tremendous rushing ability with 119 yards against West Virginia and finishing third on the season with 233 yards and a score on just 41 carries. The Florida native is a top dual threat option with a good enough arm and right mindset to handle the workload.

Redshirt freshman Grant Rohach has suddenly burst into a key backup role after spending last year as a scout teamer. Just 6-1 and 210 pounds, he's not all that big, but he needs time and seasoning. Like Richardson, he's an excellent runner with a live arm and good enough passing skills to step in if needed.

Watch Out For … the new guys to be a part of the backup fight. The Cyclones signs three quarterbacks in February, with 6-2, 220-pound Joel Lanning the most promising of the lot. Iowa State snagged him away from Nebraska, who with his tremendous speed and passing accuracy would've been a perfect fit for the Husker offense. He took his team to the Iowa state championship in 2012 throwing 22 touchdown passes and running for 17 more.
Strength: Runners. Everyone can move. While there might not be a high-end bomber – even though Richardson has a nice arm – all the ISU quarterbacks can run and make things happen when things break down. The team has a stable full of ballers.
Weakness: Backup experience. Richardson came off the bench to be the team's best quarterback late in the season, and Barnett did big things a few years ago when thrown into the equation, but it would be nice if Rohach had a little experience.
Outlook: It seemed like Barnett was going to be the future, but Richardson came out and ripped off a near-perfect day against Kansas and now it's his program to run. He has all the tools and abilities to become the type of quarterback who carries the team from time to time. Now the offense just needs to work on developing the backups.
Unit Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

The running game didn't exactly blow up, but senior James White did what he could with limited action – missing a few games hurt - leading the team with 505 yards and two scores on just 99 carries after leading the way two years ago with 743 yards. Not a workhorse, the 5-8, 192-pounder never carried the ball more than 13 times, but he's extremely fast with a great motor, and he's always looking to get the hard yard when needed. Also a nice receiver, he caught 20 passes last season, but was used les and less as the season went on.

Also returning is senior Shontrelle Johnson, but he's fighting to come back from a torn ACL suffered late in the season. The 5-9, 186-pounder started off the season with 120 yards and a score in the win over Tulsa – coming back full after suffering a 2011 season-ending neck injury – but now he has to work to get back on the field. Very, very quick and very smart, he's a great prospect who can be a flash of lightning and can be the team's most dangerous back if he's 100%. Good enough to get offers from Florida and Georgia Tech, the Florida native should potentially be the key part of the attack as long as he's able to stay on the field.

Adding more bulk and blasting ability is 6-1, 242-pound senior Jeff Woody, who pounded away for 193 yards and two scores doing most of his work late in the season. While he won't be a No. 1 back, he a good veteran and a change-of-pace option. Also working in the rotation is sophomore DeVondrick Nealy, who got on the field rushing for 81 yards on just 16 carries. The 5-10, 183-pounder has excellent speed and the hands to potentially be used more as a third down option.

Watch Out For … JUCO transfer Aaron Wimberly. While no one is expecting the 5-9, 173-pounder to push White out of a job, he was a fantastic get for the program after earning NJCAA All-America honors. The Georgia native has a nice blend of speed and cutback ability, with the talent to quickly be the team's No. 2 back getting 8-to-10 carries a game.
Strength: Quickness. Woody might be more of a blaster, but everyone else can cut on a dime and make big things happen with a little room to move. All this group needs is a little help from the line.
Weakness: Great defenses. There might not be a ton of them in the Big 12, but the defenses have been able to keep the Cyclone rushing production down over the last few seasons. The only games with over 200 yards came against Western Illinois, Kansas and West Virginia.
Outlook: White and Wimberly should form a tremendous combo if they get enough work, and the return of Johnson at some point would be icing on the cake. This is one of the team's deepest areas, and it could be one of the strongest at times.
Unit Rating: 7


This could be the biggest problem early on with most of the key parts missing, but junior Jarvis West has the potential to grow into a more dangerous option after averaging 9.4 yards per catch making 31 grabs for 290 yards and three scores. He didn't use his speed enough considering his lightning-fast wheels and his quickness on returns. However, the 5-7, 174-pounder hasn't broken out in two years of work, meaning senior Albert Gary should get even more of a shot after catching 18 passes for 170 yards and two scores highlighted by a five-grab day in the win over Baylor. At 5-10 and 203 pounds, he brings decent size and can get physical going after the ball.

6-1, 189-pound sophomore Quenton Bundrage turned out to be a nice find in his first year stepping up over the second half of the season to finish with 20 catches for 232 yards and two scores, becoming a steady target good for around three grabs per game. The hope is for him to grow into the go-to guy after showing what he could do when given the chance. Sophomore Tad Ecby is expected to become a deep threat after seeing a little time last season making a catch for nine yards. At 6-0 and 195 pounds he has decent size and the hands to become a top target with a little bit more time, but 6-1, 160-pound redshirt freshman P.J. Harris is a nice talent who was a good get for the program. When he adds a little bit of bulk he should be a tough No. 2 option in time.

While the receiving corps is a bit of a question mark, the return of senior Ernst Brun should help the cause after catching 26 passes for 330 yards and six scores as a field stretcher, highlighted by his four-catch, 102-yard, one touchdown day in the bowl loss to Tulsa. At 6-3 and 251 pounds, the former JUCO transfer has good size and excellent athleticism and receiving skills. While 6-6, 230-pound sophomore Ben Boesen is a promising and dangerous receiver, and 6-5, 253-pound junior Pierce Richardson is a potentially strong blocker with his bulk, the new star in the rotation could be JUCO star Emmanuel Bibbs, arguably the team's top recruit with 6-3, 245-pound size and side receiver skills. He could've gone to Oklahoma or Arkansas, but he chose the Cyclones after catching 22 passes for 230 yards and six scores last year for Arizona Western.

Watch Out For … Bundrage. The talent and ability are there, and now he has the opportunity to become the main man. He showed good upside last season, but he could become more of a deep threat.
Strength: Tight end. Brun has next-level potential and Bibbs was a phenomenal get. These two could easily be the team's most dangerous targets as Sam Richardon's safety valves.
Weakness: Veteran receivers. Aaron Horne led the team in receiving, Josh Lenz led the way in yards and touchdowns, and Chris Young was second on the team in catches. All three are gone.
Outlook: It's an open casting call for the open wide receiver spots. There's potential and upside, but someone has to emerge who can blow the top off a defense and become the main guy. ISU spread the wealth around last season with nine players catching 18 passes or more, but no one threw a scare into opposing defensive coordinators. Until that guy emerges from the pack of relatively untested talents, the tight end should do a bulk of the heavy lifting.
Unit Rating: 6

Offensive Line

The line has been a positive over the last few years, especially in pass protection, and it has the potential to be even better if the left side is set. 6-7, 300-pound junior Jacob Gannon took over late last season at right tackle, but he'll get a shot on the left side with good pass blocking skills and just enough experience to handle himself right away. Returning to the line and likely the right tackle job is senior Kyle Lichtenberg, a solid veteran who beefed up over the last few years to get up to 296 pounds on his 6-6 frame and proved he could hold down the fort for a full season. Able to play just about anywhere up front, he has the toughness to play guard but is better built for the outside.

Back as a strong quarterback up front is junior Tom Farniok, a 6-4, 287-pound veteran who has grown into the spot starting every game as a true freshman and doing even more as a leader. He hasn't earned all-star honors in a good league for centers, but he's too good to not get more recognition.

Trying to get healthy to step in at left guard is Shaban Dika, a 6-5, 322-pound mountain of a blocker who could be nasty for the ground game if he can get back from a torn ACL. He fought for the right guard spot, but he's needed on the other side with 6-4, 314-pound senior Ethan Tuftee turning into the team's best blocker. The anchor up front, he has next level potential now that he's a year removed from a knee injury. Very big and very talented, he was one of the team's top recruits a few years ago and he's showing good fight as a top run blocker.

Watch Out For … Jake Campos, one of the team's top recruits and a top tackle prospect. The 6-7, 260-pounder needs time to fill out his frame, but he's smart, athletic and talented enough to eventually be the team's anchor in a year or so. However, he might be too good to not be a part of the backup rotation right away.
Strength: The starting five. As long as Dika can stay in one piece, and if injuries aren't a problem across the board, the Cyclones should have one of the best lines in the Paul Rhoads era. Farniok and Tuftee are all-star talents and there's experience in place in the other three spots.
Weakness: The depth. Junior Bob Graham has to be at the ready in case Dika has more knee issues, while 6-6, 316-pound junior Ben Loth is a big option at both center and guard. They literally have to play big roles.
Outlook: The coaching staff has dealt with injuries over the years, the loss of an NFL talent in Kelchi Osemele, and some wild inconsistencies, but it knows how to put together a good front. The line has to be more physical and far better for the ground game, but overall is should be a solid season as long as everyone can stay healthy.
Unit Rating: 6.5

- 2013 Iowa State Preview | 2013 Iowa State Offense
- 2013 Iowa State Defense | 2013 Iowa State Depth Chart