What you need to know ... Ten
starters return to an offense that has the potential to be the
most explosive in the Big 12 North. The offensive line struggled
last year in all phases, but it's experienced and very, very big
with an emphasis this year on being more physical for a running
game that averaged a mere 111 yards per game. Getting RB Stevie
Hicks back at 100% from a groin injury should help make the
Cyclones a power running team again, but it'll be hard not to
throw it and throw it some more with Todd Blythe leading a
dangerous receiving corps. Bret Meyer is back for his third year
as the starting quarterback and should be one of the North's
total offense leaders.
Passing: Bret Meyer
227-368, 2,876 yds, 19 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: Stevie Hicks
149 carries, 545 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Austin Flynn
56 catches, 624 yds, 3 TD
Star of the offense: Junior WR Todd Blythe
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior OT
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR R.J. Sumrall
Best pro prospect: Blythe
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Blythe, 2) C Scott
Stephenson, 3) QB Bret Meyer
Strength of the offense: Experience, receiving corps
Weakness of the offense:
Proven pass protection, backup quarterback
Bret Meyer has the tools and experience to take another
step up and become one of the Big 12's best quarterbacks. He has
to cut down on his interceptions and has to learn to not take so
many sacks, but his numbers should skyrocket with a tremendous
receiving corps to work with. The backup situation is a bit
muddy with senior Kyle Van Winkle looking to hold off true
freshman Austen Arnaud.
The key to the unit: A full healthy season from Bret
Meyer would be nice while developing the backups.
Quarterback Rating: 7.5
- Bret Meyer, Jr. - 227-368, 2,876 yds, 62%, 19 TD, 10
INT, 133 carries, 123 yds, 1 TD
This will be Meyer's third year as the starter after coming off
a solid season. With the running game struggling, the offense
fell on his shoulders and he came through, for the most part,
turning into an efficient passer who threw better and better on
the move. He's a talented runner who could stand to get bigger
to fill out his 6-3, 208-pound frame a little more to absorb
more shots. The big key will be interceptions; he can't throw
them. The Cyclones went 0-5 after the Army game when Meyer threw
a pick and almost lost to the Black Knights after throwing three
- Kyle Van Winkle, Sr.
The 6-6, 217-pound senior overcame a broken collarbone to see
time in two games last season. He's a big passer who knows the
offense, but he doesn't have nearly the same mobility as Bret
Meyer and will face a huge challenge from incoming freshman
- Austen Arnaud, Fr.
Pencil in the true freshman for the number two spot once he gets
to camp this summer. The Iowa high school player of the year is
a great all-around talent with an accurate arm and excellent
speed. Head coach Dan McCarney has already said Arnaud will
likely see time this year, but it would be nice to redshirt him
considering Bret Meyer still has two years left as the starter.
It's all about staying healthy. Stevie Hicks never got
over a groin problem and Jason Scales was never in the mix, and
it showed as the Cyclones finished 98th in the nation in
rushing. With a big offensive line to pave the way and a great
passing game to take the heat off, a healthy Hicks should be a
lock for 1,000 yards while big fullback Ryan Kock should once
again be one of the nation's premier short yardage runners.
The key to the unit: Getting more backs in the mix to
keep Stevie Hicks healthy and effective.
Running Back Rating: 7.5
- Stevie Hicks, Sr. - 149 carries, 545 yds, 3.7 ypc, 4
TD, 8 catches, 39 yds
It's not an overstatement to say the season rests on Hicks, who
was never healthy last season suffering from a groin injury.
Iowa State went 3-5 when he was either out or ineffective
including a loss to lowly Baylor. He's a 212-pound power back
who's a key blocker in pass protection with good enough speed to
crank out big plays. He only averaged 3.7 yards per carry last
season and didn't do enough for the passing game, so he'll be
looking for a big bounceback season after rushing for 1,062
yards and nine touchdowns in 2004.
- Fullback Ryan Kock, Sr. - 54 carries, 129 yds, 2.9 ypc,
13 TD, 1 catch, 6 yards
The 239-pound senior's main purpose is as a top lead blocker
after giving the defensive line a shot, but most fans know him
for his talents round the goal line scoring 13 touchdowns
including three against Missouri and two against Kansas State.
An unstoppable runner when one yard is needed, he's not a
receiver like many fullbacks will only get more than few carries
is something happens to Hicks.
- Jason Harris, Soph. - 11 carries, 40 yds, 3.6 ypc,
1 catch, 6 yds.
A quicker option than Stevie Hicks, Harris saw a little bit of
time as a true freshman in the middle of the season. At 201
pounds he has the size to provide a little bit of power, but
breaking off big runs as a change-of-pace back will be what the
team needs from him. His role in the running game depends on how
well he can hang on to the ball.
- Jason Scales, Soph.
The superstar recruit missed all of last year with a knee injury
and hopes to be back in time to be a key player this fall. He
ran for 6,050 yards and 78 touchdowns in his Iowa high school
career and should be a dangerous runner once he's healthy.
- Fullback Steven Ebner, Jr.
Consider it a major shock if Ebner gets more than five carries.
He'll have a hard time getting in the game with Ryan Kock taking
up so much of the fullback time, so the 229-pound Ebner has to
make his mark as a top blocker.
With or without Jon Davis, this will be one of the Big
12's best receiving corps. Todd Blythe is a premier deep threat
who's almost unstoppable around the goal line, while Austin
Flynn has been fantastic making the switch from quarterback to
receiver. Davis is the steady possession receiver in the group,
but he tore his Achilles tendon this spring and is iffy for the
start of the season. On the plus side, speedy R.J. Sumrall
appears ready to fill in and add even more pop to the position.
The tight ends have the potential to be excellent with Ben Berkema and Walter Nickel each fantastic receivers.
The key to the unit: Hope for Jon Davis to quickly return
healthy while getting big seasons out of R.J. Sumrall and
Receiver Rating: 9
- Todd Blythe, Jr. - 51 catches, 1,000 yds, 19.6 ypc, 9 TD
He has it all from 6-5, 210-pound size, excellent leaping
ability around the goal line, and big play ability on deep
plays. He's a tough receiver who attacks the ball when it comes
his way. Now the key is consistency after struggling to break
out over the first half of last season until a 214-yard, four
touchdown day against Texas A&M. He could stand to do more after
getting the ball in his hands.
- Jon Davis, Sr. - 41 catches, 319 yds, 7.8 ypc, 2 TD
Call this a projection for some point this season as Davis has
to return from a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered late in
spring ball. He's expected to be back early in the season, but
it's still way too early to tell. The 6-4 senior is a very big,
very talented target who has mostly been a short-range playmaker
who benefits from all the deep plays made by the other receivers
with his longest catch a mere 16 yards.
- Austin Flynn, Sr. - 56 catches, 624 yds, 11.1 ypc, 3 TD
Flynn went from being the starting quarterback to the team's
number one receiver. He's a steady, smart route runner and a
tough playmaker who's not afraid to make the in-traffic catches.
He's a surprisingly good downfield blocker and makes more than
his share of big plays
- Tight end Ben Barkema, Jr. - 18 catches, 244 yds, 13.6
ypc, 2 TD
A solid blocker, the 245-pound junior is mostly used as a big
play receiver with nice hands. He can be more physical in the
running game and he isn't the most polished receiver, but he's
talented and should only get better.
- R.J. Sumrall, Soph. - 20 catches, 311 yds, 15.6 ypc
With the injury to Jon Davis, the spotlight goes on the emerging
sophomore to produce. He had a very nice freshman season as a
reserve and now should see more action no matter what happens
with Davis. He's big and very, very fast splitting his time
between football and the track team.
- Marques Hamilton, RFr.
He's the one to watch. At 6-3 and 217 pounds, he's a huge target
who has made it clear he wants to be a receiver, not a tight
end, and grow into a
star of the offense. He'll start out behind R.J. Sumrall and Jon
- Tight end Walter Nickel, Sr. - 20 catches, 263 yds,
13.1 ypc, 2 TD
Nickel is a little smaller than Ben Berkema and not quite as
physical, but he's a great receiver who shines in two tight end
sets. While not the starter, he might as well be considered one
with all the work he gets.
It's a huge, experienced line that has to be night-and-day
better than last year when it paved the way for a mere 111 rushing yards
per game and allowed a whopping 39 sacks. Averaging around 310 pounds
per man among the projected starting five, the running game should be
better with more physical all-around play. There's solid depth with
several good, young, big bodies ready to fill in. JUCO transfer Lee Tibbs and freshman Jose Vargas could
make things interesting this summer.
The key to the unit: The line has to play up to its
size and do more in pass protection. The tackles need to play better.
Offensive Line Rating: 7
- OT Scott Fisher, Sr.
Scott and his twin brother Paul will be huge factors on the line. Scott
is 6-7 and 335 pounds and experienced after starting the final five
games of last year. He's a former BYU Cougar who's athletic enough to be
more effective as a pass blocker.
- OG Tom Schmeling, Soph.
A backup so far, the 6-3, 290-pound sophomore will
get one of the first looks at left guard. He has made a huge jump in
production from last season to
this spring and is expected to grow into a key blocker.
- C Scott Stephenson, Sr.
The former transfer from Minnesota turned into an All-Big 12 blocker in
the middle. He's 6-4 and 305 pounds with great movement and athleticism
along with a relentless hitting ability. He missed spring ball
recovering from shoulder surgery, but he'll be back this fall to be the
- OG Seth Zehr, Sr.
A solid veteran with 31 starts, the 6-6, 300-pound senior is a great
athlete who's versatile enough to play either center or guard. He was
out this spring with a broken hand, but he'll be back this fall as a
mainstay at right guard.
- OT Aaron Brant, Sr.
Brant is finally starting to live up to the lofty promise he showed as a
true freshmen when the coaches were raving about him from day one. He's
an experienced starter with tremendous size at 6-4 and 320 pounds. Now
he has to take another step up in his pass blocking ability.
- C Bastian Schober, Jr.
An academic all-star, the 305-pound junior saw plenty of work this
spring while Scott Stephenson was recovering from a shoulder problem. He
needs more game experience before he's ready to come close to matching
- G Paul Fisher, Sr.
The 6-7, 325-pound senior isn't quite as big as his brother Scott, but
he's a massive body with the potential to take over a starting spot at
right guard. If nothing else, he'll be a key reserve.
- G Reggie Stephens, RFr.
On the fast track to becoming a top guard, the 315-pound redshirt
freshman showed enough promise this off-season to be a starter if
needed. He'll be a top backup behind Paul Fisher and Seth Zehr at right