Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Iowa State Football '08: Year 2 for Gene Chizik

Iowa State (3-9, 2-6 in the Big 12 North in '07) will bring zero all-Big 12 award winners to the field this fall. Year 2 may not be high on wins, but most around the Big 12 believe 2nd year head coach Gene Chizik is the right man to move the Iowa State football program forward.

The Cyclones return 27 lettermen (lose 25 lettermen), so look for some ups and downs in '08. 2008 schedule:

  • Aug. 28 vs. South Dakota State (Thur. night game)
  • Sept. 6 vs. Kent State
  • Sept. 13 @ Iowa
  • Sept. 20 @ UNLV
  • Sept. 27 bye week
  • Oct. 4 vs. Kansas
  • Oct. 11 @ Baylor
  • Oct. 18 vs. Nebraska
  • Oct. 25 vs. Texas A&M (Homecoming game)
  • Nov. 1 @ Oklahoma State
  • Nov. 8 @ Colorado
  • Nov. 15 vs. Missouri
  • Nov. 22 vs. Kansas State

Bold games - Top games for Cyclones in '08

Two sophomores will battle for the #1 at QB position, with hometown Austen Arnaud and Omaha's Philip Bates. Both players lettered in '07 and must replace 4-year letterwinner Bret Meyer, who lead ISU to back to back bowls his freshman and sophomore seasons ('04 and '05), but ISU has fallen to 7-17 the past two season. Meyer's favorite receiver, Todd Blythe has departed, as well.

Top linemen appears to be LG Reggie Stephens (junior, 16 starts), 4 of 5 starters return for the Cyclones on the O-line. Three other starters return on the offensive side, with part-time starters RB JJ Bass (3 starts), WRs RJ Sumrall (6) and Marquis Hamilton (9).

The Cyclones had the weakest offense in the Big 12 North, last year. The Cyclones do add the bottom 3 Big 12 South teams to the schedule in '08, with top 3: OU, Texas and Texas Tech falling off.

On defense, the Cyclones must replace their 2 top tacklers, LBs Alvin Bowen and Jon Banks. Also, the two interior linemen, in ISU's 4-3 defense, have departed. Seven starters return, including all 4 members of the secondary. Senior DE Kurtis Taylor (6.5 sacks), MLB Jesse Smith (junior 2.5 TFL, 3 PBU) and CB Allen Bell (junior, 12 starts LY) are three building blocks for Chizik's Cyclones in '08.

Special teams squad returns punter Mike Brandtner (39.4 yards per punt), but PK Bret Culbertson and KR Milan Moses have departed. Two true freshmen are among the candidates vying for the #1 PK job.

Four wins appear to be a good baseline this fall for Chizik's Cyclones. A 5 or 6 win season would have Chizik's Cyclones on the fast track, as they rebuild coming off the post Dan McCarney era, minus 2. Like McCarney, Chizik's background comes on the defensive side of the game. The defense gave up far too many points, but should be the strength again in '08.


No comments: