#18 Iowa State Football 2019 Preview

Iowa State Cyclones
Overall Rank: #18
#4 Big 12
Iowa State Logo
Iowa State heads into the 2019 season looking for their third straight season of at least eight wins under the leadership of head coach Matt Campbell. The Cyclones have evolved into a tough, physical, gritty team that is a tough out for teams in the Big 12 on a weekly basis. Despite losing David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler to the NFL Draft, the future of Iowa State looks very bright thanks to Campbell and his staff’s ability to develop players at a high level.
2018 Record: 8-5, 6-3
2018 Bowl: Alamo Bowl vs. Washington State (26--28 L)
Coach: Matt Campbell, (19-19 at Iowa State, 54-34 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tom Manning
Defensive Coordinator: Jon Heacock
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Brock Purdy QB, 308 yards
Passing: Brock Purdy, QB, 2,250 yards
Receiving: Deshaunte Jones, WR, 366 yards
Tackles: Greg Elsworth, SS, 87
Sacks: JaQuan Bailey, DE, 8.0
Interceptions: Braxton Lewis, FS, 3
Other Key Returnees:  LT Julian Good Jones, LG Collin Olson, C Colin Newell, RG Josh Knipfel, RT Bryce Meeker, RB Kene Nwangwu, WR Tarique Milton, RB Johnnie Lang, NG Ray Lima, LB Marcel Spears Jr., DE Enyi Uwazurike, K Connor Assalley, P Corey Dunn
Key Losses: RB David Montgomery, WR Hakeem Butler, CB Brian Peavy, CB D’Andre Payne
Brock Purdy is a bit of a river boat gambler at quarterback as he heads into his sophomore season. Purdy led Iowa State to a 7-2 record after taking over at quarterback in 2018 and threw for 2,250 yards and 16 touchdowns. The seven interceptions in nine starts has to be addressed by Purdy as opposing defensive coordinators will make adjustments to him after getting nine games worth of film to study. Kene Nwangwu and incoming freshman Breece Hall should end up getting the bulk of the carries at running back to replace the toughness and production of David Montgomery. Deshaunte Jones, Tarique Milton, and Charlie Kolar should be the primary pass catching targets for Purdy and it will be crucial for one of them to become that big play threat that can stretch the defense. The offensive line returns intact and one big point of emphasis will be improving pass protection to give Purdy a clean pocket to throw from.
Seven starters are back for the Cyclones on the defensive side of the football led by JaQuan Bailey, Marcel Spears Jr., Greg Elsworth and Braxton Lewis.  Bailey leads a defensive line unit that is very salty as Iowa State allowed just 3.26 yards per carry on the ground in 2018. In addition, Bailey is an excellent pass rusher as he picked up 8.0 sacks last season and has 18.5 so far in his career. Spears Jr. brings senior leadership to the linebacker room and will have Mike Rose back for his sophomore season to form a strong combination for defensive coordinator Jon Heacock. Greg Elsworth is the leading returning tackler as he had 87 tackles at strong safety, while Braxton Lewis picked off three passes as well. The goal for the secondary should be to create more turnovers to take some pressure off of the offense.
The Bottom Line:
Iowa State opens with three straight games at home against Northern Iowa, Iowa, and UL-Monroe. The Cyclones should, at a minimum, be 2-1 after those games with a shot to get the Hawkeyes if they can execute offensively and create enough turnovers against Nate Stanley. The conference schedule opens at Baylor in a critical swing game for Iowa State in the conference race. After a home game against TCU there are two road games that should be openings for wins at West Virginia and Texas Tech as both programs are in a bit of a transition with new head coaches. The other tricky stretch starts on October 26th with a visit from Oklahoma State followed by a trip to Oklahoma and then a home game with Texas. If Purdy can grow at quarterback in his sophomore season and the offensive line takes a step forward, you can expect the Cyclones to get another eight to wins in 2019.
Projected Bowl:  Camping World Bowl
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 130.1(112th in nation, 10th in conference)
Passing Offense: 240.9 (58, 7)
Total Offense: 371.0 (96, 7)
Scoring Offense: 26.8 (82, 7)
Rushing Defense: 115.0 (14, 1)
Pass Defense: 234.2 (72, 2)
Total Defense: 349.2 (33, 2)
Scoring Defense: 22.9 (37, 1)
Turnover Margin: -0.23 (85, 6)
Sacks: 2.54 (39, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 2.38 (80, 5)