A year ago Paul Rhoads and the Cyclones exceeded expectations by going 6-6, making it to the Insight Bowl and winning in Lincoln along the way. In 2010 the Cyclones will see a significant uptick in the level of competition as Iowa State get's the Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech portion of the South schedule. Fortunately for them, all three might see a slight dropoff...emphasis on slight.
The 2010 season, even though as much as I'd like to avoid that schedule and move on, I'm forced to play it and prepare for it.
It's never a good sign when your coach wants to skip the season and move right on to the next offseason.
Perhaps the highlight of the Iowa State season from any outsiders perspective is "FARMAGEDDON" which enters it's second year at Arrowhead with the highly anticipated matchup between the farmers of Iowa State and the farmers of Kansas State.
to take these kids to Arrowhead is a special experience. To take the field, one half of the stadium is cardinal and gold, the other side of the stadium is purple, that's a unique environment, almost bowl-like, to have a chance to play a football game.
All kidding aside the Cyclone program certainly gained a significant amount of momentum in 2010 by winning 6 and defeating Minnesota in a the bowl game. The only problem, as we know at Kansas, momentum can be fleeting. Especially with a difficult schedule.
I contend that being 6-6 and improved like we were and people being excited, had we lost that bowl game to Minnesota, it just -- we just sort of would have poofed into January. Winning the bowl game, capping the season, I think we launched ourself into January. I think that was evident in how the kids worked the entire off season.
Austen Arnaud continues to be one of the the more recognizable players in a Cyclone uniform and he enters his fourth season with the Cyclones, but his first season without a coaching change.
Yes, I think Austen emerged through spring ball as our most improved player on our team. A lot of programs will give out an award for the most improved player. It usually goes to a freshman coming off a redshirt or somebody of that nature. He's been somewhat handicapped because he's been through three coaches, three position coaches and so forth, and he's just now getting a chance to settle in to an offense that he could call his own.
The other feather in the Cyclone cap. Returning senior running back Alexander Robinson. On top of his talent, the Cyclones will also have one of the bigger and more experienced offensive lines in the league.
I think Alexander Robinson is a guy that is underrated in this league. I wouldn't trade him for another back in this league. I think he ranks right up there with all of them. He runs it. He catches it. He blocks. He's intelligent. He's a leader.
All in all Paul Rhoads has done a tremendous job in Ames. They have several talented players at key positions, but they'll also need to replace some major contributors especially at the linebacker position on defense.
Most difficult tasks for Paul Rhoads and Iowa State in 2010
- Solidify the front seven defensively.
- Consistency from Austen Arnaud.