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2007 Iowa State Cyclones

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 21, 2008


2007 Iowa State Cyclones Season Game-By-Game Recaps and More

2007 Iowa State Cyclones

Recap: The Cyclones may not have been very good in Gene Chizik’s debut in Ames, but at least they never quit on their rookie head coach.  Even at 1-8 with no hopes for the postseason, Iowa State played its best ball in November, upsetting Kansas State and Colorado in successive weeks.  It was obvious throughout the year, especially in the secondary, that Iowa State was competing with less talent than the rest of the Big 12, something Chizik and his staff have been addressing on the recruiting trail since the end of the regular season.         

Offensive Player of the Year: WR Todd Blythe

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Alvin Bowen

Biggest Surprise: After dropping the first two games to Kent State and Northern Iowa, who could have imagined this Cyclone team upending 2-0 Iowa.  Well, it happened on Sept. 15 thanks to Bret Culbertson’s five field goals, the last of which won the game for Iowa State with one tick left on the clock.  

Biggest Disappointment: With a little over five minutes left in the Sept. 22 trip to Toledo, Iowa State was up 35-24, and well on its way to reaching 2-2 after a horrible start.  The Cyclones, however, were unable to close the deal, allowing Jalen Parmele to return a kick for a touchdown and Greg Hay to recover a botched punt in the end zone for the game-winning score.  It was losses, such as the one to the Rockets, which set the tone for ISU’s 3-9 campaign.

Looking Ahead: Now that Chizik has learned more about the job, and the players have a better understanding of the coach, Iowa State fans will expect more than three wins in 2008.  Three key contributors to that improvement are expected to be QB Austen Arnaud, RB Alexander Robinson, and WR Marquis Hamilton, a trio of underclassmen.

- 2007 Iowa St Preview
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2006 Iowa St Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
4-8
2007 Record: 3-9

Aug. 30 Kent State L 23-14
Sept. 8 No. Iowa L 24-13
Sept. 15 Iowa W 15-13
Sept. 22
at Toledo L 36-35
Sept. 29 at Nebraska L 35-17
Oct. 6 at Texas Tech L 42-17
Oct. 13 Texas L 56-3
Oct. 20 Oklahoma L 17-7
Oct. 27 at Missouri L 42-28
Nov. 3
Kansas State W 31-20
Nov. 10 Colorado W 31-28
Nov. 17 at Kansas L 45-7

Nov. 17
Kansas 45 ... Iowa State 7
Kansas apparently wasn't looking ahead to Missouri as the offense cranked out 566 yards and was never threatened. Todd Reesing threw touchdown passes from 17 and 16 yards out to Dexton Fields for a 14-0 lead, and then connected with Marcus Henry for a 51-yard score to all but put it away. Iowa State got its only points on a six-yard Alexander Robinson run in the second quarter, and then the Jayhawks reeled off 24 unanswered points with Kerry Meier catching an 18-yard touchdown pass and throwing a four-yard score to Derek Fine. The two teams combined for 19 penalties for 202 yards.
Player of the game: Kansas QB Todd Reesing completed 21 of 26 passes for 253 yards and four touchdowns, and ran for five yards
Stat Leaders: Kansas - Passing: Todd Reesing, 21-26, 253 yds, 4 TD
Rushing: Jake Sharp, 15-83. Receiving: Dexton Fields, 11-109, 2 TD
Iowa State - Passing: Bret Meyer, 16-28, 103 yds
Rushing:
Alexander Robinson, 20-54, 1 TD. Receiving: Alexander Robinson, 6-15

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Getting annihilated by Kansas in the season-finale isn't exactly where the program was hoping to be when it started the year, but that's hardly being in a select group. Now the Cyclones have to go into the off-season working on all the young talent that started to get work over the second half of the season. The offense will revolve around Alexander Robinson, while the defense has to find something it can consistently do well.

Nov. 10
Iowa State 31 ... Colorado 28
In a strange and wild game, Iowa State rallied from a 21-0 deficit with Todd Blythe touchdown catches from 12 and 55 yards out and Alexander Robinson touchdown runs from 13 and nine yards out. But Colorado would come back with a nine-yard Scotty McKnight catch to make it a three-point game, and then the craziness kicked in. The Buffs got the ball back and got in a position for Scott Eberhart to try a 50-yard field goal. He nailed it, but Colorado got hit with a delay of game penalty. Eberhart hit the 55-yarder, but the officials ruled that time had expired and that the snap didn't get off in time.
Player of the game: Iowa State WR Todd Blythe caught four passes for 124 yards and two scores
Stat Leaders: Colorado - Passing: Cody Hawkins, 23-40, 262 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Hugh Charles, 21-83, 1 TD. Receiving: Scotty McKnight, 5-54, 1 TD
Iowa State - Passing: Bret Meyer, 9-19, 149 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Alexander Robinson, 29-127, 2 TD. Receiving: Todd Blythe, 4-124, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Iowa State is on a two-game winning streak?! The Colorado game might have had a controversial ending, but it shouldn't take away from yet another strong running day from Alexander Robinson, and a bounceback performance from Bret Meyer who was able to lead the team to a win on Senior Day. After such a rough year, he's going on a high note. As nice as this win might be, beating Kansas next week and ruining the dream season would be even sweeter.

Nov. 3
Iowa State 31 ... Kansas State 20
Iowa State overcame a 194-yard receiving day from Jordy Nelson with two short touchdown runs from Alexander Robinson in the first half, a 21-yard interception return for a touchdown from Chris Singleton, and a spark from off the bench in Austin Arnaud. Arnaud came in to replace a mediocre Bret Meyer, and he got the offense moving. Kansas State bombed away, for 347 passing yards, and got a 13-yard score from Nelson and a five-yard touchdown run from James Johnson late in the third quarter, but couldn't get on the board again in the fourth. Kansas State was held to 78 yards rushing.
Player of the game: Iowa State QB Austen Arnaud completed five of seven passes for 130 yards, and ran six times for 19 yards
Stat Leaders: Kansas State - Passing: Josh Freeman, 28-44, 347 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: James Johnson, 14-95, 1 TD. Receiving: Jordy Nelson, 13-194, 1 TD
Iowa State - Passing: Austen Arnaud, 5-7, 130 yds
Rushing: Alexander Robinson, 25-61, 2 TD. Receiving: Todd Blythe, 2-91
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Cyclones were close over the last few weeks to pulling off an upset, playing well in a loss to Oklahoma, and giving Missouri a bit of a push, and then it came together with the team's most complete performance of the year in a win over Kansas State. The run defense was terrific, but the secondary couldn't come up with an answer for Jordy Nelson. All the talk will be about the offense and the role of Austen Arnaud, who came in for Bret Meyer and added a bit more life to the attack. It's all about getting better each week for next year, and that might mean even more changes than just in the offensive backfield.

Oct. 27
Missouri 42 ... Iowa State 28
Missouri's offense had a hard time getting going, but the defense helped the cause with a Lorenzo Williams fumble recovery in the end zone at the start of the second half. Martin Rucker helped pull ahead for good with a ten-yard touchdown catch in the third, and Jeremy Maclin put it away with a 17-yard run for a 42-21 lead in the fourth. Iowa State got a 25-yard Devin McDowell interception return for a score and a one-yard Bret Meyer scoring run in the second, but never get the lead. The Cyclones outgained Missouri 389 yards to 366.
Player of the game: Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon made 12 tackles, a tackle for loss and broke up a pass
Stat Leaders: Missouri - Passing: Chase Daniel, 28-37, 250 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Tony Temple, 8-40, 1 TD. Receiving: Martin Rucker, 7-66, 1 TD
Iowa State - Passing: Bret Meyer, 33-48, 237 yds, 1 TD
Rushing:
Alexander Robinson, 21-149, 1 TD. Receiving: R.J. Sumrall, 8-44
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Iowa State might have lost six straight and might only be 1-8, but it's playing a lot better over the last two weeks. Certainly Oklahoma and Missouri weren't playing at peak efficiency, but there have still been improvements to the defensive production. The offense isn't helping the cause with few good plays to take advantage of its chances. With Kansas State and Colorado at home over the next two weeks, these will be the final chances for wins before dealing with the road trip to Kansas. It's time to start playing all the young guys.

Oct. 20
Oklahoma 17 ... Iowa State 7
In windy conditions, Oklahoma got two short Chris Brown touchdown runs in the second half, but it needed a D.J. Wolfe interception in the end zone with just over three minutes to play to survive the scare. The offense came up with a 43-yard Garrett Hartley field goal to finally provide some breathing room. Oklahoma only gained 316 yards of total offense, but the defense held ISU to 269.
Player of the game: Oklahoma S D.J. Wolfe made 11 tackles, one tackle for loss and an interception in the end zone.
Stat Leaders: Iowa State - Passing: Bret Meyer, 19-31, 174 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Jason Scales, 22-46, 1 TD. Receiving: Marquis Hamilton, 7-88
Oklahoma - Passing: Sam Bradford, 16-28, 183 yds, 1 INT
Rushing:
DeMarco Murray, 9-59. Receiving: Manuel Johnson, 5-46
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... After getting blasted by Texas, the defense did a good job against Oklahoma to keep the game alive, but there simply isn't enough offense to win a game like this. Bret Meyer had his chance. After a rough few years, he had his chance to make one big throw on one big drive the scare the pants off a national title contender, but he threw into traffic, OU picked it off, and Iowa State lost yet again. Things don't get any better next week against Missouri, but the Tigers are almost certain to be looking ahead, if they don't remember last year's loss to the Cyclones.

Oct. 13
Texas 56 ... Iowa State 3
Former Texas defensive coordinator and now Iowa State head man Gene Chizik didn't have any luck against his old team as Colt McCoy threw four touchdown passes, highlighted by a 58-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Shipley on UT's first play from scrimmage, ran for a 44-yard score, and Jamaal Charles ran for an eight yard touchdown in an ugly rout. Iowa State only got a 25-yard Bret Culbertson field goal in the second quarter. The Cyclones were outgained 514 yards to 228 and were never close to threatening. Brandon Foster added an interception return for a Texas touchdown.
Player of the game: Texas QB Colt McCoy completed 23 for 30 passes for 298 yards and four touchdowns, and ran four times for 50 yards and a score
Stat Leaders: Iowa State - Passing: Bret Meyer, 17-33, 111 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Jason Scales, 19-77. Receiving: Jason Scales, 5-5
Texas - Passing: Colt McCoy, 23-30, 298 yds, 4 TD
Rushing:
John Chiles, 9-54, 1 TD. Receiving:
Nate Jones, 7-125, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Texas, for all its faults, is still Texas, and as much knowledge as Gene Chizik might have of his former team, he doesn't have the players. More specifically, he doesn't have the lines. The Cyclones weren't even competitive at home, as the Longhorns did whatever they wanted to do offensively, mainly because Colt McCoy got all the time he wanted to throw. Things don't get any easier over the next few weeks against Oklahoma and Missouri, so the idea is to find something to build on for next year. The team has to start working towards the future, and at the moment, it's sticking with many of the veterans who aren't accomplishing anything.

Oct. 6
Texas Tech 42 ... Iowa State 17
Texas Tech got out to a 28-0 first half lead on two Michael Crabtree touchdown catches, a one-yard Graham Harrell scoring run, and a 16-yard fumble recovery from Darcel McBath, and cruised from there. The Red Raiders got up 42-3, with Crabtree catching his third touchdown pass of the game, before Iowa State finally got into the end zone on a five-yard Bret Meyer run with less than five minutes to play. Texas Tech threw for 460 yards, and ran for just 29.
Player of the game: Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree caught 10 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns.
Stat Leaders: Iowa State - Passing: Bret Meyer, 15-26, 187 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Jason Scales, 22-82. Receiving: Todd Blythe, 8-128, 1 TD
Texas Tech - Passing: Graham Harrell, 36-43, 425 yds, 4 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing:
Shannon Woods, 10-47. Receiving: Michael Crabtree, 10-154, 3 TDs

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... No one's stopping the Texas Tech passing game right now, but that's no excuse for the offense to continue to be so stunningly lousy. There's no reason Bret Meyer should only be throwing for 187 yards when down early, and there's no reason the offense shouldn't get into the end zone against anyone until late in the fourth. With the season all but in the tank, it's time to figure out what can be done for next year and get some younger, inexperienced players some more time. The starters aren't getting it done.

Sept. 29
Nebraska 35 ... Iowa State 17
Iowa State jumped out to a 10-0 first half lead, helped by a three-yard Jason Scales touchdown run, and then Nebraska took over with 28 straight points, with Sam Keller throwing a six-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Lawson, and Marlon Lucky running for a 41-yard score and throwing a 20-yard touchdown pass to Sean Hill. The Cyclones were marching, and appeared to be on the verge of turning things around, but Bo Ruud picked off a pass and took it 93 yards for a score. Keller and Lawson hooked up against from four yards out late in the fourth to put the game well out of reach.
Player of the game: Nebraska RB Marlon Lucky ran 16 times for 107 yards and a score, caught four passes for 16 yards, and threw a 20-yard touchdown pass.
Stat Leaders: Iowa State - Passing: Bret Meyer, 26-51, 281 yds, 3 INTs
Rushing: Jason Scales, 31-115, 2 TDs. Receiving: Marquis Hamilton, 6-72
Nebraska - Passing: Sam Keller, 18-28, 219 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing:
Marlon Lucky, 16-107, 1 TD. Receiving: Nate Swift, 4-59

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Cyclones aren't good enough to win game when they screw up. They outgained Nebraska 415 yards to 369, and had several chances to take control, four turnovers, especially the 93-yard pick six from Bo Ruud, were too much to overcome. This isn't a team built on bombing away in comeback mode, with Bret Meyer continuing to struggle. It doesn't get any easier over the next several weeks, so being sharp and winning the turnover battle is a must.

Sept. 22
Toledo 36 ... Iowa State 35
Iowa State got a one-yard J.J. Bass touchdown run with 5:25 to play for a seemingly comfortable 35-24 lead, but Toledo's Jalen Parmele returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown to pull the Rockets within five. After the UT defense held, Iowa State botched a punt, with the fumble recovered by Greg Hay for a score and the 36-35 lead. Iowa State marched into field goal range, but a 38-yard attempt was blocked. Parmele started off the scoring on a 13-yard runs, and Aaron Opelt ran for a one-yard score and threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to keep the Rockets alive. The Cyclones got a ten-yard Bass touchdown run late in the first quarter, and three Bret Meyer touchdown passes.
Player of the game: Toledo RB Jalen Parmele ran 16 times for 74 yards and a touchdown, and retuned three kickoffs for 140 yards and a touchdown.
Stat Leaders: Iowa State - Passing: Bret Meyer, 24-33, 251 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: J.J. Bass, 34-134, 2 TD. Receiving: Todd Blythe, 7-77, 1 TD
Toledo - Passing: Aaron Opelt, 19-27, 199 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Jalen Parmele, 16-74, 1 TD. Receiving: Stephen Williams, 6-113, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... As big as the win over Iowa was, that's how crushing the loss to Toledo is. The Cyclones had it in the bag, seemingly on they way to a nice second win in a row, and then the collapse at the end might mean there won't be another reasonable chance for win, possibly the rest of the way. Over the next five weeks, ISU plays at Nebraska, at Texas Tech, Texas, Oklahoma and at Missouri. On the plus side, RB J.J. Bass has been a find. QB Bret Meyer and the passing game should be doing far more considering the ground support provided.

Sept. 15
Northern Iowa 24 ... Iowa State 13
Bret Culbertson kicked five field goals including the game-winner from 28 yards out with one second to play to give Iowa State the stunning win. The Cyclones took a 12-0 lead into halftime on Culbertson field goals from 21, 33, 42 and 40 yards out, but Iowa fought back with an 11-yard Jake Christensen touchdown run and two Austin Signor field goals, including a 41-yarder with 3:38 to play, to take the lead for the first time all game long. The Cyclones got the ball on their own 33 with 3:34 to play, and after two plays, Bret Meyer connected with Phillip Bates for a 38-yard play to get into field goal range.
Player of the game: Iowa State K Bret Culbertson connected on 5-of-6 field goal attempts, including the game-winner with one second left on the clock.
Stat Leaders: Iowa - Passing: Jake Christensen, 12-23, 118 yds
Rushing: Albert Young, 14-60. Receiving: Tony Moeaki, 3-26
Iowa State - Passing: Bret Meyer, 21-29, 157 yds
Rushing:
J.J. Bass, 25-80. Receiving: R.J. Sumrall , 7-62

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Now there's the defense Iowa State was supposed to have under Gene Chizik. The Cyclones held Iowa to just 233 yards to total offense and didn't allow any long drives. The offense didn't take many chances and was ultra-efficient, asking QB Bret Meyer to make the short throws and to not turn it over. The obvious problem was finishing, you don't kick five field goals without something going wrong, but considering the way the season started, the team will be more than happy to take a win over the arch-rival no matter how it looked.

Sept. 8
Northern Iowa 24 ... Iowa State 13
Northern Iowa rolled out to a 24-6 lead on two Eric Sanders second quarter touchdown passes and a third quarter eight-yard Sanders run, and coasted from there. J.J. Bass added a one-yard touchdown run for Iowa State midway through the fourth, but couldn't get any closer as one late drive stalled and another ended with an interception. The Cyclones turned it over four times, but outgained UNI 399 yards to 321.
Player of the game: Northern Iowa QB Eric Sanders completed 23 of 29 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns and ran ten times for five yards and a score.
Stat Leaders: Northern Iowa - Passing: Eric Sanders, 23-29, 180 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Corey Lewis, 19-130. Receiving: Johnny Gray, 7-51, 1 TD
Iowa State - Passing: Bret Meyer, 27-43, 255 yds, 2 INT
Rushing:
Bret Meyer, 11-50, 1 TD. Receiving: Marquis Hamilton, 7-97
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Gene Chizik era couldn't start any worse. The offense is turning it over too much, Bret Meyer isn't playing like a senior leader, and the defense isn't doing much of anything to come up with big stops in key moments. There's no excuse for losing to Northern Iowa, and now comes the showdown with Iowa. While the Cyclones can quickly turn things around with a win over the Hawkeyes, to do that, there must be more offensive pop and much better play from the lines.

Aug. 30
Kent State 23 ... Iowa State 14
Kent State pulled off its first win over a BCS team in 20 years helped by two-yard touchdown runs in the third quarter from Eugene Jarvis and Julian Edelman to pull ahead and stay there for good. The Golden Flashes scored first on a 42-yard touchdown catch from Leneric Muldrow, but they failed to take a big lead into the locker room with turnovers proving costing them three likely scoring drives. Iowa State got 133 yards and a touchdown from J.J. Bass, but only managed a 16-yard Todd Blythe scoring catch in the second half.
Player of the game: Kent State QB Julian Edelman completed 17 of 26 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions and ran 18 times for 75 yards and a score.
Stat Leaders: Kent State - Passing: Julian Edelman, 17-26, 161 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Eugene Jarvis, 25-113, 1 TD. Receiving: Tom Sitko, 4-39
Iowa State - Passing: Bret Meyer, 13-23, 148 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
J.J. Bass, 22-133, 1 TD. Receiving: Todd Blythe, 5-65, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The loss to Kent State was disastrous for any bowl hopes. While that might seem a bit extreme considering it came before September, this was a home game the Cyclones had to come up with. The Golden Flashes did what they could to give ISU chances, but Bret Meyer and the offense didn't take advantage. Bret Meyer simply has to play much better and has to be far sharper as the leader of the team. The veteran quarterback has to make everyone around him better, and he has to use the running of J.J. Bass to open things up for the passing game. A blowout win over Northern Iowa next week is a must to get some semblance of confidence before the showdown with Iowa. 

Aug. 30 - Kent State
Offense:
The Kent State offense was all pass, no run in 2005 (and it was really no run). It was all run, little pass in 2006. Now the ground game should be even stronger with the 1-2 rushing punch of Eugene Jarvis and Greg Keys along with the mobility of QB Julian Edelman. Four starters return to a line that needs to be better in pass protection, and a go-to receiver has to emerge with the loss of WR Najah Pruden. In the end, it'll all come down to Edelman. If he's playing well, the offense will shine.
Defense:
Somewhat quietly, Kent State had one of the MAC's best defenses last season getting into the backfield, and to the quarterback, on a regular basis, while getting a phenomenal statistical season out of the secondary. CB Jack Williams and SS Fritz Jacques are good defenders to build around, but the rest of the secondary is a question mark. The front seven, in KSU's 3-4, should be excellent led by tackle Colin Ferrell and the Buck, the hybrid of end and linebacker, Kevin Hogan, should be one of the MAC's top pass rushing terrors. The D won't be as good as last year, but it won't be bad.

Sept. 8 – Northern Iowa

Sept. 15 - Iowa
Offense: The Jake Christensen era starts after four years of the Drew Tate regime, but backup quarterback Arvell Nelson is a terrific prospect who could push hard this fall. With the 1-2 rushing punch of Albert Young and Damian Sims, the ground game will be strong if the questionable offensive line pulls out a better season than last year (when injuries were a major problem). Dominique Douglas and Andy Brodell are emerging targets, and they'll shine with a passer like Christensen winging it. As good as Christensen might be, the offense will try to run first.
Defense: You basically know what you're getting with the Iowa defense. It's not going to do anything fancy, it's not going to bring any funky blitzes, and most teams should be able to get yards through the air without a problem. However, everyone can hit and there are few mistakes made. Eight starters return, led by end Ken Iwebema and one of the Big Ten's best lines, while the replacements for the departed starters are good. Forcing more turnovers, making more plays behind the line, and generating more pressure are all vital to coming up with a better year.

Sept. 22 – at Toledo
Offense: Injuries hit the offensive line last year and killed the production and the consistency. With John Greco back at left tackle and a slew of big redshirt freshmen, the front five should be better and could be fantastic is David Perkins and Jerry Aguwa return to their pre-injury form. The spread offense should improve with quarterback Aaron Opelt looking better and Clint Cochran healthy again after a knee problem. The receiving corps is big, fast, and so far, disappointing. That could quickly change considering all the interesting targets. Jalen Parmele and DaJuane Collins form a good 1-2 rushing punch that needs to stay healthy with the off-the-field issues of Richard Davis and Scooter McDougle.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Tim Rose has done a good job over the last two years using a flexible 3-4 alignment that occasionally morphs into a 4-2-5. Now it has to be better after getting bombed on by everyone over the first half of last year and only produced once the schedule lightened up. Seven starters return along with plenty of depth, especially up front, and now there have to be more big plays and more pressure into the backfield. Greg Hay and Keith Forestal form a strong 1-2 linebacking punch, while the safety tandem of Tyrrell Herbert and Barry Church is among the best in the MAC.


Sept. 29 – at Nebraska
Offense: From possibly losing star receiver Maurice Purify for being a knucklehead off the field, to losing leading rusher Brandon Jackson to the NFL, promising runner Kenny Wilson to a broken leg while moving a TV, and starting guard Matt Huff to a blown out Achilles (though he might be back), it's been a rough off-season for the offense. Even with all the problems, the offense will roll if, and it's a screaming if, the once-promising tackle prospects come through and the starting 11 stays healthy. Top back Marlon Lucky can't be counted on for a full season, while backup Cody Glenn is already hobbling with a foot problem. There's no one of note behind them. The line had to do some shuffling after a variety of injuries, meaning the ground game could struggle at times. Fortunately, former Arizona State mad bomber Sam Keller is at the helm with a speedy, veteran receiving corps to work with. Don't be shocked if the attack becomes one-dimensional at some point this year. That might not be a bad thing.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove is about throwing different looks at offenses over the last few years, and while he loses all four starters off a great front four, he has more talent and depth to work with. The strength is in the linebacking corps, where Bo Ruud, Corey McKeon, Steve Octavien and Lance Brandenburgh will control the defense. There's speed to burn in the secondary, but the defensive backs haven't played up to their potential or athleticism over the last few years. This will be one of the Big 12's better defenses, but it still might not be close to the killer of some of the great Husker teams of the past.

Oct. 6 – at Texas Tech
Offense: On the surface, there might appear to be a world of problems. The quarterback situation is allegedly up for grabs, the star running back practiced like he was too secure and got booted to third string, almost all the top receivers are gone, and four starters have to be replaced on the line. Don't shed too many tears. Graham Harrell had a great spring and will be the staring quarterback once again, Shannon Woods will get back in everyone's good graces this fall and be a top back, and Michael Crabtree might be the best receiver the program has had in several years. Of course, it all goes kaput if the line doesn't come together quickly, but Mike Leach and his coaching staff have dealt with worse. There might be question marks, but there's also a whole bunch of talented prospects. This will be one of the nation's five best passing offenses once again, but it might not be consistent.
Defense: This D will be a major part in several shootouts, and not in a good way. The secondary will be the strength, and it's not even close, with a pair of all-star safeties in Darcel McBath and Joe Garcia, along with star corner Chris Parker. The front seven is a major problem, especially the defensive line, with no depth and only one starter returning. The linebacking corps isn't all that big, but it's fast and should be good in time. Expect good running teams to be able to rumble at will.

Oct. 13 - Texas
Offense: This might be the best offense yet under head coach Mack Brown, with one bump in the road: the line. The starting five will be fine, but there's absolutely no depth at tackle. While that's the concern, the skill players will be fantastic with a deep, talented receiving corps that welcomes back the top four targets, Jamaal Charles and a speedy backfield, and Colt McCoy to lead the show. Now a seasoned veteran, McCoy will run more than last year while making more plays on the move. Expect plenty of scoring, plenty of explosiveness, and a top five finish in total offense ... as long as the line holds up.
Defense: Duane Akina goes from co-defensive coordinator to the head man in charge, and there will be changes. Last year's defense was all about stopping the run, and the talented secondary got torched. This year's D will focus on doing everything, with an eye towards being more aggressive and generating more pressure. The strength is at tackle and in the linebacking corps, with NFL caliber talent that should keep the Longhorns among the nation's leaders against the run. The ends will be fine, in time, and they'll get to pin their ears back and go to the quarterback. All the pressure should help out a secondary in transition, with only one starter returning from a group that loses Thorpe Award winner Aaron Ross and All-American Michael Griffin.

Oct. 20 - Oklahoma
Offense: If a quarterback comes through and shines, this could be the nation's most effective offense. If the offensive line isn't the best in college football, it's number two, the running backs are very fast and very talented, and the receiving corps, led by top pro prospect Malcolm Kelly, is very big and very fast. It all comes down to the quarterback battle between junior Joey Halzle and redshirt freshman Sam Bradford. Whichever one can be steady will get the plum gig with a chance to lead the loaded attack in a national title chase.
Defense: It'll be an interesting defense that has the potential to be a killer, but has some major concerns. The secondary should be among the best in America with enough size, speed, and talent to keep the NFL scouts buzzing. DeMarcus Granger is a rising superstar tackle who should combine with Gerald McCoy, Cory Bennett and Steven Coleman to stuff up everything on the inside. If the unknown ends come though with a halfway decent season, and the untested linebacking corps is nearly as good as last year's, look out.

Oct. 27 – at Missouri
Offense: If all the parts are working as expected, this should be one of the nation's five most productive offenses with an embarrassment of riches to work with. Junior QB Chase Daniel is growing into a star leader with more than enough weapons to choose from. The tight end combination of Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman is the best in the nation, Will Franklin can fly on the outside, and Tony Temple leads a small, quick backfield that'll rip through the holes created by a talented, experienced line. The problems? Consistency and proven play in crunch time. The numbers are going to be there, but they have to come against the top teams in the big games.
Defense: The whole will be greater than the sum of the parts. A pass rush will emerge eventually from the outside linebackers as well as end Stryker Sulak, while Brock Christopher has the makings of an All-Big 12 performer at middle linebacker. The secondary will be fine thanks to the return of starting corners Darnell Terrell and Hardy Ricks, but replacing safeties David Overstreet and Brandon Massey won't be easy. There's tremendous speed and athleticism in the back seven, several good young players to get excited about among the backups, and an excellent tackle pair in Evander Hood and Lorenzo Williams to anchor things up front. Now the D has to prove it can come through on a consistent basis against the top teams.


Nov. 3 - Kansas State
Offense: Call this another stepping stone season. The offensive line is ridiculously deep, but without much appreciable talent. The receiving corps has a slew of good prospects coming in, and four good tight ends, but can only count on deep threat Jordy Nelson to deliver. The 1-2 rushing punch of Leon Patton and James Johnson is scary-good, but there's absolutely no one behind them. And then there's the quarterback situation, which was a plus going into last year with several good players in a battle, but now is Josh Freeman and no safety net. Freeman has the talent to be a superstar, but hasn't been remotely consistent. When he's not on, it's over. It's not all doom and gloom. There's a ton of athleticism, and Freeman, Patton, Johnson and Nelson will have games when they're unstoppable, just not enough of them.
Defense: Raheem Morris lasted one year as defensive coordinator before moving on to the NFL. Tim Tibesar will take over and put in a 3-4 scheme, which might, at times, appear to be more of a 4-3 with star Ian Campbell playing outside linebacker and the occasional end. There's a ton of overall experience and depth, even with just six returning starters, with the strength to likely be in the secondary, where safety Marcus Watts leads a veteran cast. While the D likely won't be sixth in the nation in sacks and 18th in tackles for loss, there will be plenty of big plays made in the backfield with all the speed and athleticism across the positions. The overall net result should be better than last year, when KSU gave up 346 yards and 24 points per game.

Nov. 10 - Colorado
Offense: Call this a stepping-stone season for the offense before it explodes in 2008. The overall production can't help but be better after averaging a Big 12-worst 291 yards and 16 points per game. There are too many ifs. If a backup can emerge behind top running back Hugh Charles, and if all the problems this spring finding healthy offensive linemen go away, and if the veteran receiving corps can prove that it's better than last season showed, and if Cody Hawkins and/or Nick Nelson can shine right away at quarterback, the Buffs should start to have the offense that Buff fans expected when Dan Hawkins was hired.
Defense: The defense was better than it every got credit for considering the offense provided no help whatsoever. The starting 11, in whatever configuration that turns out to be, should be excellent as long as a pass rush is found from the ends. The linebacking corps will be the strength with tackling-machine Jordon Dizon leading the way. George Hypolite and Brandon Nicolas form an excellent tackle tandem to work around, while Terrence Wheatley is an All-Big 12 corner to handle everyone's number one. Now there needs to be more from the secondary, and the run defense has to be as strong as it was last year despite losing key linemen Abraham Wright and Walter Boye-Doe.


Nov. 17 – at Kansas
Offense: After spending last year running the ball, new offensive coordinator Ed Warinner will try to stretch the field more with a big, experienced group of receivers. The big question will be who the quarterback will be throwing to them. Sophomores Kerry Meier and Todd Reesing are talented, mobile passers who can do a little of everything well, but they'll be in a battle for the starting job up until the opener. The other big question mark is at running back, where Jon Cornish and his 1,457 yards and eight scores will be replaced by Jake Sharp (fast) and Brandon McAnderson (powerful). The line is nothing special, but the tackles are experienced and solid.
Defense:
The defense had to go through a little bit of a rebuilding phase last season, and while the overall results weren't terrific, and too many yards were allowed, it wasn't as bad as it might have appeared. The secondary gave up more yards than anyone in America, but it gets Aqib Talib back at corner to go along with an upgrade in speed at the other three spots. The linebacking corps, by design, is small on the outside with a slew of safety-sized defenders designed to fly to the ball. They have to hold up better when they're getting pounded on. James McClinton is a star at tackle who should set the tone for the front seven.

 

  


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