Big 12 Wire: Cyclones show only signs of improvement

By Joel Devick

Sports Blogger

@theozoneonline

 

Last season had a lot of “what ifs” for the Cyclones. Iowa State came into the year with a lot of enthusiasm in its new coach Matt Campbell. Campbell, a former Toledo coach, has set out to change the culture of a program which has failed to have much recent success. Last season was cause for optimism, and Cyclone fans feel a bowl is possible in 2017.

(Devin Wilbur, O’Colly)

ISU ended 2016 ninth in the Big 12 at 3-9 but was competitive in most games, and even had 14-point fourth-quarter leads against Baylor and Oklahoma State. However, ISU did win two of its final three games, including a 66-10 thumping of Texas Tech. Campbell must forge a killer instinct for the Cyclones so they don’t cough up big leads. If the Cyclones want to get to a bowl game for the first time since 2012, they need to not be the ISU of old and consistently find the success that helped the Cyclones beat up on the Red Raiders.

It all starts on offense for ISU. Wide receiver Allen Lazard is one of the best in the nation, and the quarterback situation has settled since last year. Jacob Park is the quarterback and is more of a pocket-passing threat than last year’s opening day starter Joel Lanning, who will make the transition to middle linebacker in his senior season. Lanning could still be used in running packages on offense. He will be a nice complement to Park and tailbacks David Montgomery and Mike Warren, who know how to carry the football and have experience in offensive coordinator Tom Manning’s scheme. ISU will be able to put up points this year, but that is only half the equation.

The X-factor for the Cyclones is their defense, specifically the front seven. ISU added much-needed depth to its defensive line with JUCO transfers Ray Lima, Matt Leo and Kamilo Tongamoa. If ISU improves even a small amount in the trenches, and Lanning can gel with the other linebackers and convert to being the leader of the defense, ISU will be a tough opponent in the 2017 campaign.

Schedule

Sept. 2: Northern Iowa

Sept. 9: Iowa

Sept. 16: at Akron

Sept. 28 (Thurs): Texas

Oct. 7: at Oklahoma

Oct. 14: Kansas

Oct. 21: at Texas Tech

Oct. 28: TCU

Nov. 4: at West Virginia

Nov. 11: Oklahoma State

Nov. 18: at Baylor

Nov. 25: at Kansas State

ozone@ocolly.com

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