Iowa State Preview 2006 Further Analysis
Iowa State Cyclones
Posted Aug 1, 2006

Iowa State Cyclones Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

1st and Ten – The Best Ever? – Iowa State football hasn’t had a long, storied history.  It’s really only been since Dan McCarney took over in Ames that the Cyclones have put together a strong squad year in and year out.  Even with that said, the 2006 offense might be the best and most productive unit that the school has ever seen.  In fact, injuries notwithstanding, the Cyclone offense will be one of the best units in the nation in 2006.  Not just in the Big XII, the entire nation.  Last year, the Cyclone offense averaged 28 points per game and 350 yards per game, but star RB Stevie Hicks only played in nine ball games last season.  In 2006, the Cyclones have 10 starters back, including a healthy Hicks.  And, it’s not as if they’re returning a bunch of stiffs, we’re talking some of the best offensive talent in the league.  Start with QB Bret Meyer who followed up on an Independence Bowl MVP performance to finish 2004 with one of the best seasons in Iowa State history – throwing for nearly 2,900 yards and 19 touchdowns.  The aforementioned Hicks, when healthy, should be racking up All-Big XII conference honors by year-end.  WR Todd Blythe is a freakish talent who is the Cyclones deep ball threat, averaging just under 20 yards per catch and nine touchdowns (and his name is a bad word in and around College Station).  QB turned WR Austin Flynn was the glue that held this offense together, making the tough, clutch catches all season long; he was the team’s leading receiver with 56 catches.  The offensive line, led by 2005 All-Big XII linemen Scott Stephenson and Aaron Brant, returns four starters from a standout unit.  So, where’s the weakness?  Solid OL, experienced QB with explosive skills, productive running back and perhaps the league’s best group of wide outs.  Weaknesses?  There are no stinking weaknesses.  The only weakness might be if Hicks can’t stay healthy, which is what triggered the middle of the season losing streak in 2005.  Will they be the best unit that’s ever worn the cardinal and gold?  That’s a mouthful, but then again, there’s nothing pointing them in the other direction.

2nd and Seven – Curve-y Ball – The 2006 NFL Draft provided some ammunition to the fact that one-gap penetrating tackles have a future on Sundays – you don’t have to be 350 pounds to be a quality NFL defensive tackle (or, to be an All-Big XII stud in the middle, either).  With that being said, defensive tackle Brent Curvey will be lacing up the cleats for a good long time.  Even though he’s smaller than other defensive tackles, the Cyclone defender is nearly the exact same size as Buffalo’s first round selection John McCargo.  And, their play is similar as well.  Curvey is a menace coming off the ball and can penetrate as well as any defensive lineman in the Big XII.  Defensive coordinator John Skladany lets the big fella go and the Houstonian unleashes his quickness and strength on offensive lines throughout the Big XII.  Curvey is an athletic dynamo who has to be doubled, especially on third down, so that he doesn’t wreck absolute havoc on a throwing QB.

3rd and Three – Get Ready for the Air Attack – Graduation decimated the Iowa State secondary, which wasn’t one of the best units in the Big XII last year, anyway.  Teams threw for 242 yards per game against the Cyclones and that unit loses everyone but cornerback DeAndre Jackson.  The junior got beat early in the season, but improved his play to the point that he finished the year with five picks and All-Big XII honors.  But, he’s the lone ranger, boys.  If any young players are required to step up, it’s in the secondary.  It’s not a luxury for Chris Singleton and others to ‘work’ themselves into the lineup.  It’s imperative from day one that they’re ready to go or the balls will be flying early and often in 2006.

4th and One – Third time’s a charm, right? – You know the rabbit that goes around a dog track – the one they chase all the way around the track?  How frustrating must it be for those dadgum dogs to run like the dickens and never catch that rabbit?  Well, for Iowa State, the rabbit has been the Big XII North title.  In 2004, they were about to snatch the rabbit before Mizzou ended that race.  In 2005, they couldn’t hold on to a lead at Kansas to seal the title after Colorado’s end of season debacle.  The Cyclones were so close to taking that next step, yet just like the dogs, settling for their Dog Bone after the race, instead of the rabbit.  But, 2006 is another year and another race is on the horizon, so how do the Cyclones respond after two heart-breaking campaigns?  This time, they’ve got to swallow the rabbit whole to head to the Big XII Championship for the first time.  In other words, they must dominate throughout the season and leave nothing to chance or the fourth quarter in the final game.

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