By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
Triggermv writes: In the video link for the Gridiron Club’s Coaches Cookout, Paul Rhoads mentioned that this year’s football team will be the best team he has put onto the field so far since arriving at ISU. Do you tend to agree with him or not, even with the quarterback question marks?
CW: I really do. That’s somewhat crazy too when you consider that Iowa State will be without the likes of Austen Arnaud, Alexander Robinson and Ben Lamaak for the first time in half a decade. My theory though is that while those guys are all good players, Iowa State was still ranked 99th in America in total offense at the end of last season. Something didn’t click offensively over the last two seasons. Maybe a change will do the program some good?
Iowa State has more depth and athleticism across the board than ever since Paul Rhoads became coach. This is especially true on defense. The line won’t be great, but at least the coaching staff will have some options as far as subbing goes. That’s never really been the case for Rhoads in Ames. We all know that Iowa State is set at linebacker and I really believe that the secondary will be fine, anchored by one of the Big 12’s best corners, Leonard Johnson.
Iowa State will be fine at running back. The coaches have repeatedly said that they feel comfortable going four deep at this position. Remember the pickle Iowa State was in two years ago when A-Rob went down? Does the name Jeremiah Schwartz ring a bell?
I’m still not sold on this group of receivers. With a first-year starting quarterback at the helm, somebody needs to step up and surprise us.
With a potential first round draft pick at tackle, the offensive line should continue to be a strength.
At the end of the day, somebody has to step up and play the quarterback position well. The good news for whoever wins the job is that he’ll have legit, Big 12 players around him. That helps.
Via email, Benson writes: I wanted your thoughts on depth/conditioning for the 2011-2012 basketball season. I know losing Godfrey hurts a little bit, but in my mind we should be fine depth wise. Last year I got a little tired of hearing about guys being tired. I hate to look into the past but I seem to remember the 1999-2000 team having what basically was a six man rotation after Paul Shirley got hurt (maybe before). I believe multiple guys were averaging 38+ minutes per game and it didn’t seem to be a problem. If there are questions regarding depth going into the season is it wrong to expect Hoiberg to have them ‘tough enough’ to deal with this once the season starts?
CW: I don’t think that conditioning was ever an issue with last year’s team. The 2010-11 Cyclones’ biggest problem was just not having enough talent. If last year’s team would have had the talent from 1999-2000, I don’t believe for a second that you would have heard a peep out of anybody. Depth helps too. I remember a game last year (Kansas I believe) when they Jayhawks had gone nine deep before Iowa State even made a sub.
Diante Garrett and Scott Christopherson both averaged over 35 minutes per game last season, with Jake Anderson not too far behind at 33.3. Those three were the cornerstones of that team with Melvin Ejim deserving a mention as well. Jamie Vanderbeken was forced to fight injuries last season. The two freshmen each served suspensions. The team never really had a chance to gel and even if they would have, you just can’t compared that roster with 1999-2000. It isn’t even close.
Wesley writes: Who will be the leading scorer on the basketball team next season?
CW: Chris Allen.
Which home football game will have the largest attendance?
Rickybaby writes: Who do you think is going to be the biggest surprise coming out of Capital City League? Out of the Italy trip ?
CW: Alex Dorr…Just kidding.
I think that folks will find out just how good Korie Lucious actually is this summer at the Capital City League. He’ll thrive in that environment. Not that the CCL means anything, but my guess is that many of Lucious’ detractors will eat some crow. I’ll throw Tyrus McGee into the "biggest surprise" talk because due to the transfers, Tyrus has flown just a little bit under the radar over the last few months. He’s a really good basketball player and I wouldn’t be surprised if McGee has a few 40+ point nights this summer.
I’m hoping that Tavon Sledge comes in and blows the roof off of the Valley Southwoods gymnasium. I’ve still yet to see Tavon play, but I hear it is a treat.
Chris Allen, Chris Babb and Royce White will all turn heads as well, but that’s expected.
Out of the Italy trip? I’ll say Chris Allen. I’m expecting him to be the focal point of Iowa State’s offense next season. Hopefully his numbers prove that overseas.
Cyfan964 writes: Do you think any freshman for football could have immediate impacts to the special teams, offense, and defense. If so, who?
CW: I fully expect linebacker Jevohn Miller to play some next season. The only reason I say that is because of what Jake Knott recently told me in this interview. I bet that you’ll see Miller quite a bit on special teams. Miller got a leg up on the rest of the freshmen as he was on campus for the second semester of last year. It’s tough to tell with the rest of these guys, as they just got to Ames last week. If I had to guess, I’d say that DeVondrick Nealy has a shot to play on offense. I doubt that he’ll see a ton of time at running back but there might be an outside chance that he comes in and plays a little slot receiver. I say that for two reasons. The first is because Nealy talked about that when he committed to Iowa State. The second is that Iowa State signed two running backs in the class, Nealy and Rob Standard. The class might want to split those guys up. But who knows? Maybe it will be Standard who plays? We’ll know soon enough…