2008 CFN Iowa State Preview
Iowa State RB Alexander Robinson
Iowa State RB Alexander Robinson
Posted Apr 28, 2008

It's a tough year to come up with a breakthrough season in the Big 12, but Iowa State might have just enough young talent to by a thorn in everyone's side. Alexander Robinson and the offense should be better. Check out the CFN Iowa State Preview.

Iowa State Cyclones

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Iowa State Preview | 2008 Iowa State Offense
- 2008 Iowa State Defense | 2008 Iowa State Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Iowa State Preview | 2006 CFN Iowa State Preview 

Calling a football team pesky is sort of like calling a beautiful woman cute. No football team wants to be pesky.

Pesky is that annoying fly that buzzes around bothering you before it gets squished. Pesky is the team that gives it the old college try before falling valiantly to a more talented power. Pesky is happy to be in the hunt for a bowl, any bowl, but doesn't have enough in the bag to get there.

Iowa State is pesky.

Head coach: Gene Chizik
2nd year: 3-9
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 9, Def. 14, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 25
Ten Best Cyclone Players
RB Alexander Robinson, Soph.
2. DE Kurtis Taylor, Sr.
3. CB Allen Bell, Jr.
4. OG/OT Ben Lamaak, Soph.
5. DE Rashawn Parker, Jr.
6. RB J.J. Bass, Sr.
7. QB Austen Arnaud, Soph.
8. FS James Smith, Jr.
9. LB Jesse Smith, Sr.
10. OT Doug Dedrick, Sr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record:

Aug. 30 South Dakota State
Sept. 6 Kent State
Sept. 13 at Iowa 
Sept. 20 at UNLV
Sept. 27 OPEN DATE
Oct. 4 Kansas
Oct. 11 at Baylor
Oct. 18 Nebraska
Oct. 25 Texas A&M
Nov. 1 at Oklahoma State
Nov. 8 at Colorado
Nov. 15 Missouri
Nov. 22 at Kansas State

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
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

This is a bad time to try rebuilding in the Big 12 as the league, at least for this year, seems to have decided it's time to become the best conference in America. Iowa State could be far better than it's been over the last two losing seasons, and it still might have nothing to show for it.

The team doesn't have anywhere near the top-to-bottom talent to dream about winning the North, and depending on the October 11th date at Baylor, it could be the 12th best team in the league, but that doesn't mean there won't be an upset or two along the way to screw things up.

The Cyclones did a great job in Gene Chizik's first year of improving as the season went on by giving Oklahoma all it could handle, and beating Kansas State and Colorado in the final two home games of the season. This year, there will be some of the same clunkers here and there against someone like Missouri or Kansas, but there's no Oklahoma, Texas or Texas Tech (a monster break this year) to deal with, and considering the dates against the Tigers and Jayhawks are in Ames, there isn't any one game that Iowa State won't have a puncher's chance in.

Iowa State has never been a superpower and it has always struggled to find itself among the heavyweights in the Big 8 and now the Big 12, but improvements are being made. Renovations to the stadium, a commitment to better facilities, and having a promising coaching staff are a start. The wins have to start coming, and then being pesky might be a good thing. It could be a stepping stone to potentially being great, but that'll have to come down the road.

What to look for on offense: An interesting quarterback situation. In a league that turned out to be loaded with great quarterbacks, Bret Meyer was supposed to be a weapon and a major plus for the Cyclones. He wasn't. Now he's gone, and exciting playmakers Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates will rotate in what should be one of the tougher quarterback rotations to get a handle on. They can both move, but Bates, a wide receiver, is also a dangerous runner. The coaching staff will go with the right quarterback for the right situation.     

What to look for on defense: Much better pass defense numbers early on. Be prepared for stories in early October about how last year's secondary that allowed 254 yards per game is night-and-day better. Don't be fooled. Yes, ISU gets all four starters back and the pass rush should be more helpful, but the biggest plus will be playing South Dakota State, Kent State, Iowa, and UNLV before getting an off-week. And then come the games against Kansas and Baylor, and things will change in a big hurry.

This team will be much better if… it can push the ball down the field. Even when the offense had Meyer at the helm and deep-play extraordinaire Todd Blythe in the receiving corps, the passing game averaged a pathetic 5.8 yards per pass and 9.6 yards per completion. The running backs are excellent, but they're going to need room to move. There's plenty of speed in the Cyclone receiving corps, but now it has to mean something.

The Schedule:
The Cyclones will look to build on the strong end to the 2007 season with easy openers against South Dakota State and Kent State. The Iowa game is always a toss up, but the Hawkeyes should be better, and the end of the non-conference slate at UNLV won't be as easy as it looks. After a week off it's eight games in eight weeks as ISU flies through its Big 12 schedule without a break until the end of November. Getting Baylor and Oklahoma State from the South is a huge break, but both games are on the road. Closing out with three road games in four weeks, with the one home date coming against Missouri, means a big early start is a must.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore RB Alexander Robinson and Senior RB J.J. Bass. Robinson was a spark plug for the offense late last year as the main man in the final four games. Small, quick, and very talented, he should be the focal point of the running game early on. Powerback Jason Scales will help the cause, while the offense could use Bass in the mix. The former JUCO transfer showed great promise and potential to be sure-thing weapon, but he hurt his shoulder was suspended from spring ball, and will be the third man in the mix, at best, if he's back this fall.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Kurtis Taylor. There's no argument if you want to fight for CB Allen Bell as the team's best defender. Bell is a great tackler who's growing into a solid shut-down corner, while Taylor is the team's best pass rusher and a lone wolf at times last year when it came to getting into the backfield. Active against the run along with being able to get to the quarterback, Taylor needs to be the star of the line that everything revolves around.

Key players to a successful season: Junior LBs Fred Garrin and Josh Raven. With defensive back speed and a great motor, Michael Bibbs is supposed to step in for second-leading tackler Jon Banks at one outside spot and the team won't skip a beat. Replacing Alvin Bowen, the team's do-it-all defensive star, on the weakside will be a problem. Garrin will get the opening day call, while Raven will see more than his share of time in the rotation. These two can't just be decent; they'll have to be excellent.

The season will be a success if ... the Cyclones win six games. It's possible if there are no mistakes and a few big upsets along the way. The Cyclones have to beat South Dakota State, Kent State and UNLV, and they'll have to come out of Waco with a win over Baylor. The Iowa game is always a toss-up, and it wouldn't be a total shock if they beat Nebraska or Texas A&M at home. However, there can't be any slips against teams their own size.

Key game: Sept. 20 at UNLV. Iowa State hasn't won a road game since September 23, 2005 when it beat Army. If Iowa wins the annual rivalry game in Iowa City, the Cyclones have to gear it up in a hurry for a trip to Las Vegas in what might be a must-win going into an off-week. Lose to the Rebels, and if there's also a loss to Iowa the week before, the team will have to sit and stew for two weeks before dealing with Kansas. A win over UNLV and the attitude on the road might quickly change, and considering the Big 12 road slate is easier than the home one, winning away from Jack Trice will be a must if the Cyclones want to go bowling.

2007 Fun Stats: 
 - Touchdowns scored: Opponents 50 – Iowa State 27
 - Passing TDs: Opponents 24 – Iowa State 9
 - Time of possession: Iowa State 32:50 – Opponents 27:09