#77 Iowa State Football 2016 Preview

Iowa State Cyclones
Overall Rank: #77
#9 Big 12
After going 7-28 over the last three seasons, Iowa State needed a change. They went and grabbed Coach Matt Campbell after his recent success at Toledo. His youthful energy has already helped on the recruiting trail and the hope is that will translate into success on the field. But after so many years of mediocrity, at best, there is a lot of work to do before the Cyclones start seriously competing in the Big 12.
2015 Record: 3-9, 2-7
2015 Bowl: None
Coach: Matt Campbell (0-0 at Iowa State, 36-15 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tom Manning
Defensive Coordinator: Jon Heacock
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Mike Warren, RB, 1,366 yards
Passing: Joel Lanning, QB, 1,247 yards
Receiving: Allen Lazard, WR, 808 yards
Tackles: Brian Peavy, CB, 82
Sacks: Demond Tucker, DT, 6.0
Interceptions: Brian Peavy, CB, 2
Other Key Returnees: LB Willie Harvey, DB Jarnor Jones
Key Losses: QB Sam Richardson, WR Quenton Bundrage, WR Jauan Wesley, WR D’Vario Montgomery, OL Jamison Lalk, DE Dale Pierson, DB Qujuan Floyd, LB Levi Peters, LB Jordan Harris
Coach Campbell wants to run the ball first and foremost. And that should be easy enough thanks to the return of Mike Warren. Warren led all freshmen in the FBS with 1,339 rushing yards and he could be in for an even better sophomore season. The offensive line is a major concern with only one player returning who has any starting experience, but Warren is good enough to still pick up chunks of yards even if the line falters. The bigger issue could be in the passing game where Joel Lanning returns after splitting time with Sam Richardson last year. Lanning can make plays with his feet and that is a great asset for this offense, but he does need to be more efficient passing the ball. Lanning completed just 55.4 percent of his attempts in 2015. Lanning does tend to avoid mistakes though and he threw just four interceptions compared to ten touchdowns. Lanning should be better with that experience under his belt and having receivers Allen Lazard and Dondre Daley will not hurt either. Lazard will be the go-to-receiver after catching a team high 56 passes for 808 yards and six touchdowns during his sophomore season.
With eight starters returning, Iowa State hopes to vastly improve on their 107th ranked defense of a year ago. Tackle Demond Tucker anchors what could be a very potent front four. He tallied 6.0 sacks and 13.0 tackles-for-loss and earned the conference’s Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year accolades. The end positions will be manned by Jhaustin Thomas, J.D. Waggoner and Darius White. The secondary boasts plenty of experience at cornerback, most notably Jomal Wiltz and Brian Peavy, and has a great safety in Kamari Cotton-Moya. The linebacker position is the biggest problem, especially after Jordan Harris opted to transfer in June. That leaves Willie Harvey as the only linebacker who can be penciled in as a starter at this point. Senior Kane Seeley will be a very important piece to the puzzle if he can take over the starting job at the middle linebacker spot.
The Bottom Line:
Coach Campbell is trying to get some immediate help for this team. He picked up graduate transfers Marchie Murdock from Illinois and Evrett Edwards from Duke. Those two may not be ready to play early in the year, but they do add experienced depth, which is something Iowa State always seems to lack. Another three win season seems likely, and that is assuming Iowa State can beat Northern Iowa and San Jose State at home and Kansas on the road. The Cyclones do get Kansas State and Texas Tech at home though. Thus, if all goes well, Coach Campbell could win five games in his debut season at Iowa State and that would get everybody in Ames very excited for the future of the program.
Projected Bowl: None
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 182.0 (48th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 226.3 (63, 7)
Total Offense: 408.3 (58, 7)
Scoring Offense: 25.0 (93, 9)
Rushing Defense: 186.6 (86, 6)
Pass Defense: 266.8 (111, 7)
Total Defense: 453.4 (107, 8)
Scoring Defense: 32.7 (97, 8)
Turnover Margin: -0.92 (113, 10)
Sacks: 2.50 (33, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 3.50 (126, 10)