Preview 2007 - Offense
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2006 CFN Iowa State
What you need to know: Bret Meyer might be the Big 12's best
quarterback, Todd Blythe is an All-America caliber receiver
leading a good corps, and in time, Jason Scales and JUCO
transfer J.J. Bass will be strong runners. None of it will
matter if the line doesn't go from abysmal to at least mediocre.
That might be a problem with four starters gone and no developed
depth whatsoever. The team will rely on a slew of JUCO transfer
and career benchwarmers to patch together a front five that will
try to allow fewer than the 38 sacks given up last year. Expect
Meyer to be everything for the offense with the passing game
front and center early on. Because of the concerns on the line,
Meyer will use his mobility to try to buy time and get the ball
out of his hands quicker while on the move.
Passing: Bret Meyer
211-374, 2,546 yds, 12 TD, 12 INT
Rushing: Bret Meyer
137 carries, 177 yds, 6 TD
Receiving: Todd Blythe
34 catches, 484 yds, 8 TD
Star of the offense: Senior QB Bret Meyer
Player that has to step up and become a star: The entire
Unsung star on the rise: Junior RB J.J. Bass
Best pro prospect: Senior WR Todd Blythe
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Meyer, 2) Blythe, 3) RB
Strength of the offense: Bret Meyer, Todd Blythe
Weakness of the offense:
Offensive line, backup quarterback
Projected Starter: Senior Bret Meyer has been the
mainstay of the program over the last three years with 36 starts
with 7,979 passing yards with 41 touchdowns, 28 interceptions,
and 631 rushing yards and nine touchdowns despite getting sacked
way too many times. Struggling just to survive last year, he
only threw 12 touchdown passes with 12 interceptions. He's had
to do a little too much when the running game had broken down,
and he's had to carry the offense even when the offensive line
wasn't good and when injuries struck the receiving corps. With
his experience, savvy, mobility and talent, he'll be asked to do
a little of everything yet again. If he gets even a little bit
of time to operate, he has the potential to be the best
quarterback in the Big 12.
Projected Top Reserves: Redshirt freshman
Austen Arnaud is a 6-3, 222-pound bomber with excellent
mobility. The former Iowa high school player of the year can do
a little bit of everything and will likely be the number one
going into 2008. The key will be to give him a little bit of
time this year to get him ready. Beyond Arnaud, the depth is
sketchy hoping for true freshman Philip Bates, a
tremendous dual-threat prospect with great speed. While not the
most accurate passer, he has enough of an arm to grow into a
reliable all-around player.
Watch Out For ... Meyer to be hit and hit hard yet
again behind a bad offensive line, but his numbers will still be
decent with the coaching staff putting the offense in his hands.
Strength: Meyer and, well, Meyer. He's one of the
Big 12's premier talents who's good enough to win games by
himself. Now he needs a little help around him.
Weakness: Depth. If Arnaud isn't it, there's big,
big, big, big trouble. If Meyer and Arnaud each get hurt, pack
up the bus and plan for 2008.
Outlook: As long as Meyer doesn't get killed
behind a line that'll allow at least 35 sacks, he'll put up a
nice season with a good receiving corps to work with. Arnaud is
a good-looking prospect who'll someday turn into a fan favorite,
but the quarterbacking is all about Meyer.
Projected Starters: 5-9, 217-pound junior Jason Scales
will be the starter going into the fall, but that could quickly
change once star JUCO transfer J.J. Bass arrives. Bass is
a 6-1, 210-pound speedster with 4.5 wheels and nice hands as a
receiver. He has the moves and power to be strong around the
goal line, and tough enough to become a workhorse for an offense
that desperately needs one.
Scales is a former Iowa high school
superstar who saw his career derailed by a knee injury. He got a
little bit of work last season mostly in garbage time running 54
times for 176 yards and two touchdowns despite being hurt. Can
he be the player Cyclone fans were so excited to get two years
ago? Only if he can stay healthy, but he's tough enough to fight
through the little aches and pains.
Replacing Ryan Kock at
fullback, as both a blocker and a runner, will be tough.
Sophomore Brian Ekwelundu is a 231-pound former defensive
end who'll only be used as a blocker in a hybrid of fullback and
tight end along with 251-pound sophomore Derrick Catlett.
The two will combine to handle the work.
Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Josh Johnson
got a little bit of work last season when Scales and starter
Stevie Hicks weren't right. He didn't get work until late in the
year finishing with 60 yards on 23 carries. He has the moves and
the power to be more involved in the offense and take the
workload off of Scales and Bass. Junior Jason Harris was
moved from running back to the secondary and now back to running
back after making 20 tackles. With good quickness and a nice
burst, he could be good for a few carries a game as a
change-of-pace back bringing more speed to the mix. 6-1,
255-pound redshirt freshman Taylor Mansfield is a bigger
blocking option than Ekwelundu at fullback. He won't ever get
Watch Out For ... the ground game to be far more
productive. Iowa State used to always crank out 1,000-yard
backs, and last year it only netted 1,221 yards mostly because
of all the sacks. That'll change as long as Scales is healthy
and Bass lives up to his press clippings.
Strength: Quick backs. Outside of the 6-1 Bass,
the Cyclones basically have the same backs. All are built around
the same, all can cut, and all can bust off yards in chunks if
they get a little bit of room to move.
Weakness: Proven production. Scales hasn't yet
done it, and Johnson and Harris haven't gotten enough work to be
counted on as main factors. They should all form a good running
game, but no Big 12 team is quaking over this ground game quite
Outlook: The jury's still out. There's no question
the offense sputtered and coughed when Stevie Hicks wasn't
running well over the last two seasons, and now it needs a
combination of players to add some balance to what should be a
good passing game. Scales should be fine, but Bass needs to
shine from the moment he gets to Ames.
Projected Starters: The receiving corps should be one of the
team's strengths highlighted by senior Todd Blythe, who
has 124 career catches for 2,317 yards and 26 touchdowns. While
he's been a steady year-in-and-year-out producer, he has to find
his explosive ability again. His yard-per-catch average has gone
steadily down averaging 21.4 yards per grab as a freshman, 19.6
as a sophomore, to 14.2 last year. Defenses have started to key
on him more, but he's still effective in the red zone using is
6-5, 209-pound frame and great leaping ability to make plays.
Despite missing three games with a virus, he still caught 34
passes for 484 yards and eight touchdown scoring in every game
he played in but two.
On the other side of Blythe will be junior R.J.
Sumrall, who caught 25 passes for 310 yards with no scores.
He's one of the team's fastest players and a star on the ISU
track team, and now he has to use his 6-1, 200-pound size and
top end speed to be more dangerous.
The tight end situation is
solid with the return of senior Ben Barkema, who was
banged up throughout last year finishing with 11 catches for 106
yards and a score. At 252 pounds, he's a good blocker with
decent hands and good route running ability. Now he has to stay
Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Marquis
Hamilton will wait his turn behind Blythe at one spot after
making six passes for 68 yards in a reserve role. At 6-3 and 217
pounds, the old coaching staff thought about bulking him up to
make him a tight end, but Hamilton wants to purely be a wide
receiver. He'll see time in three-wide sets and should make more
6-1, 200-pound junior Milan Moses is a good
veteran who's fighting Crohn's Disease but remains one of the
team's reliable midrange targets. He caught 24 passes for 282
yards last year and has 42 career grabs, but he has yet to
score. His biggest contributions have been made on special teams
as a kickoff returner.
Sophomore Houston Jones will play
behind Blythe and Hamilton as the former quarterback will try to
get his feet wet before being a big part of the offense last
At tight end, 254-pound senior Brandon Timlin has
yet to see the field, but he's the number two option going into
the season behind Barkema. That could quickly change once JUCO
transfer Collin Franklin, a 6-6, 230-pound target, gets
Watch Out For ... Blythe to finally crack the
double-digit scoring mark. He would've done it last year had he
stayed healthy, and now he might blow up with the emphasis on
the passing game and his talent around the goal line. 15
touchdown catches are possible.
Strength: Experience. Losing top two receivers
Austin Flynn and Jon Davis might take away two key veterans, but
they're replaceable. Sumrall appears ready to shine as a more
explosive option than last year's starters, while Hamilton and
Moses seen enough time to be good backup options
Weakness: Scorers other than Blythe. Of the 12
passing touchdowns last season, Blythe caught eight, Davis came
up with two. Sumrall, Moses and Hamilton have to be more than
just second and third reads for Bret Meyer.
Outlook: As long as Blythe is healthy and doing
what he's done over the first three years, the receiving corps
will be good. Sumrall, Hamilton and Moses have to take advantage
of the lack of attention and find ways to get open. Doing
something with the ball in their hands would be nice. Barkema
won't get much in the way of Big 12 honors, but he'll be solid.
Projected Starters: Don't get comfortable with the lineup, it
could quickly change. Junior Tom Schmeling is the only returning
starter after getting the nod in the first eight games of last year. Up
to 295 pounds, he needs to be a tough run blocker who anchors the line
with his experience. Able to play either guard spot, he'll stat out on
the right side.
At left guard will be the beef of the line, 322-pound
sophomore Reggie Stephens. He's shown enough promise starting the
last four games of last season to be relied on as one of the team's
At center, taking over for Scott Stephenson, will be 309-pound junior
Brandon Johnson, a former defensive lineman who spent last year
learning the ins and outs of the offensive line. If nothing else, his
size and aggressiveness will help in the ground game.
On the left side will be sophomore Doug Dedrick, a
transfer from Scottsdale CC who's only 271 pounds replacing Scott
Fisher. Dedrick might be one of the lightest tackles in the Big 12, but
he'll also be among the quickest.
6-4, 315-pound senior Lee Tibbs
didn't do anything last year after coming over from Northeast Oklahoma
A&M, but he'll have to be a key pass protector in place of Aaron Brant.
He has the size, and now he has to show he has enough quickness to keep
Bret Meyer upright.
Projected Top Reserves: The starters are hardly in
place, so the reserves are in an even greater state of chaos. 297-pound
junior Joe Blaes is a key JUCO transfer who's a lighter, quicker
option than Stephens at left guard. He has the talent to be among the
team's better linemen as the season goes on, or at least be a top
290-pound sophomore Alex Alvarez comes over from Kilgore
CC to fill in at either guard or tackle. While he played left tackle at
the JUCO level and in high school, he projects to be more of a guard
playing behind Schmeling on the right side.
At center, 290-pound senior
Anthony Walker has been around long enough to see time in the
rotation, but he hasn't been a factor in anyway. He's a strong, smart
player who might be called on quickly if Johnson struggles at center.
Watch Out For ... things to possibly be just as bad
as last season. With four new starters and no experience among the
reserves, it could be a while before this is a cohesive unit.
Strength: Um, uh .... JUCO transfers? With three
brought in to play right away, there's at least a little playing
experience among the newcomers. It's just not at the D-I level.
Weakness: Experience. With only one returning
starter, and Schmeling not exactly an All-Big 12 talent, the line will
be a work in progress. The depth is an even bigger concern.
Outlook: The line has to be night-and-day better
than last year when it was a major disappointment allowing 57 sacks and
doing nothing for the ground game. It might not be. Offensive line coach
Robert McFarland will put the biggest premium on pass protection right
away and hope the starting five, whatever that might turn out to be, can
quickly find a groove and not be a total disaster.