2007 Iowa State Preview

Posted Jun 20, 2007

After a disastrous 2006, Iowa State is hoping to rebound quickly under new head coach Gene Chizik. Todd Blythe is one of the league's most dynamic receivers, but he might not be enough to overcome all the question marks on both sides of the ball.

Iowa State Cyclones

Preview 2007

By Michael Bradley & Pete Fiutak

- 2007 Iowa State Offense Preview | 2007 Iowa State Defense Preview
2007 Iowa State Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Iowa State Preview 

Anyone who wondered whether new Iowa State coach Gene Chizik was focused on generating immediate success in Ames needed only to scan his first recruiting class for reassurance. There, along with the fresh-scrubbed high schoolers who pledged allegiance to the Cyclones, were 12 wizened junior-college transfers, charged with providing an instant talent upgrade. “You don’t bring junior college players into your program unless they can help right away,” Chizik said at the press conference announcing the class.

There’s little about Chizik that would indicate he is a man of patience. He has been quite clear about his intense personality and unwillingness to suffer those who won’t deliver what he wants, when he wants it – which is usually now. By dedicating nearly half of his 25-man class to transfers, Chizik is letting the ISU community know he is no mood for a rebuilding project. Even though this first class could have a negative impact down the line, when there is a dearth of senior leadership, neither Chizik nor athletic director Jamie Pollard is particularly concerned about what might happen four years from now. They want to assure success today.

Head coach: Gene Chizik
1st year
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 10, Def. 14, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 23
Ten Best Cyclone Players
1. QB Bret Meyer, Sr.
2. LB Alvin Bowen, Sr.
3. WR Todd Blythe, Sr.
4. LB Jon Banks, Sr.
5. PK Bret Culbertson, Sr.
6. RB Jason Scales, Jr.
7. P Mike Brandtner, Soph.
8 SS Caleb Berg, Sr.
9. TE Ben Barkema, Sr.
10. DE Rashawn Parker, Soph.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

Aug. 30

Kent State

Sept. 8

Northern Iowa

Sept. 15


Sept. 22

at Toledo

Sept. 29

at Nebraska

Oct. 6

at Texas Tech

Oct. 13


Oct. 20


Oct. 27

at Missouri

Nov. 3

Kansas State

Nov. 10


Nov. 17

at Kansas

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record:
Preview 2006 predicted wins

8/31 Toledo W 45-43 3OT
9/9 UNLV W 16-10
9/16 at Iowa L 27-17
9/23 at Texas L 37-14
9/30 Northern Iowa W 28-27
10/7 Nebraska L 28-14
10/14 at Oklahoma L 34-9
10/21 Texas Tech L 42-26
10/28 at Kansas State L 31-10
11/4 Kansas L 41-10
11/11 at Colorado L 33-16
11/18 Missouri W 21-16

That won’t be too easy. Even though former coach Dan McCarney is to be lauded for his 12 years of excellent work at one of the nation’s toughest places (resources, tradition, location) to coach, last season was disastrous. While there were significant injuries – seven starters missed the Kansas game in early November, and six didn’t play the following week against Colorado – and the schedule was tough (seven bowl teams), the team struggled mightily on defense against everyone and wasn’t exactly piling up points on the other side of the ball, either, thanks to poor line play.

Enter Chizik, who earned a reputation as a fine defensive tactician and strong recruiter while at Texas. He’ll need to maximize both of those talents at Iowa State, which enjoyed sporadic success under McCarney but couldn’t sustain it. Not that anyone before him did, either, and that’s Chizik’s greatest challenge. Just succeeding for now would suffice.

What to look for on offense: New coordinator Robert McFarland has had success developing strong, balanced attacks, so expect to see the Cyclones try a little bit of everything to figure out what’s working. More important has been his success building offensive lines. Even with all the experience returning, everyone must be far better. Senior quarterback Bret Meyer is the school’s all-time leading passer, but he was inconsistent last year with no time to operate. Chizik’s first job is to make the front five a strength.          

What to expect on defense: With eight starters returning, including tackling machine Alvin Bowen, there’s hope for an immediate improvement, especially with this coaching staff. Chizik upgraded the line through transfers – good news since opponents gained 4.6 yards per carry in ’06 – but must make drastic improvements in a secondary that allowed teams to complete an obscene 72.5% of their passes.

This team will be much better if…it can force more turnovers. The Cyclones were minus-five in that category last year and picked off just six passes. No team can be successful, especially in a tough conference like the Big 12, without being able to create short-field situations for its offense.

The Schedule: Three home games to start the year (Kent State, Northern Iowa and Iowa), along with a winnable road date at Toledo, means the potential is there for a nice start. However, the Cyclones have a three-game road run, going to Nebraska and Texas Tech after playing the Rockets, and that’s followed up by home dates with Texas and Oklahoma, and a road game at Missouri. Yeesh. Things ease up late, finishing with both Kansas teams, along with Colorado.

Best Offensive Player: Senior WR Todd Blythe. Is this the year Blythe goes from very good to special? The 6-5, 209-pound senior has 124 career catches for 2,317 yards and 26 touchdowns, averaging an impressive 18.7 yards per grab, but he wasn’t as much of a deep threat last year (mostly because Bret Meyer didn’t have time to throw), and was hurt for a late stretch. While he’s consistent, there’s no excuse for him to go another season without a 100-yard game.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Alvin Bowen. Despite being a safety-sized 6-2 and 216 pounds, Bowen held up against the run all season long, making a whopping 155 tackles, highlighted by a 20-stop performance in the overtime thriller against Toledo. "Ace" spent all of last year needing to focus on the run, but with his speed he has the potential to be a terror in the backfield while making more plays against the pass.

Key players to a successful season: Sophomore OT Doug Dedrick and senior OT Lee Tibbs. The skill players are in place to quickly improve the offensive production; now they need time to work. New starters to the line, Dedrick and Tibbs have to be an upgrade after the front five had an awful year in pass protection. Meyer never had room to breathe, getting sacked 38 times and hit way too often, even when he did get rid of the ball.

The season will be a success if ... the Cyclones win six games. After winning four last year, getting two more with a little more consistency on offense, and a Chizik-improved defense that returns nine starters, should be doable. There’s a recent precedent of Iowa State improving dramatically, winning seven games in 2004 after the 2-10 2003 disaster. The pieces are there to bounce back nicely.

Key game: Nov. 3 vs. Kansas State. The Cyclones should have a good first four weeks followed by a brutal next four weeks. Any hope for a big turnaround season will like be made or broken against the Wildcats, who’ll also need this game late in the year. With Colorado and Kansas to follow, ISU could finish with a nice run if they’ve jelled and improved along with the coaching staff.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Second quarter scoring: Opponents 118; Iowa State 58
- Sacks: Opponents 38 for 244 yards; Iowa State 24 for 142 yards
- Penalties: Opponents 72 for 701 yards; Iowa State 56 for 429 yards


Related Stories
2007 Iowa State Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 19, 2007
2007 Iowa State Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 19, 2007
2007 Iowa State Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 19, 2007

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