CF Mailbag: Football Only Edition

Chris Williams

Publisher

We're a week away from the 2012 season. Here's a football only mailbag. Enjoy!

State43 writes: With 3 experienced quality running backs in the backfield, will DeVondrick Nealy get quality snaps or just garbage minutes?

CW: I wrote about this yesterday in a quick little football blog that I threw together but it is important enough for me to address again. I heard John Walters say this on the radio yesterday and I couldn’t agree with the Godfather more. Nealy is too good to keep off of the field. I really believe that. Will he play “over” the likes of James White, Jeff Woody and Shontrelle Johnson? That's doubtful….But I do think that the explosive redshirt freshman will find his niche on this football team. It might not happen until midway through the season but after hearing what I’ve heard regarding the camp that Nealy had, I think he’ll play some very quality minutes for Iowa State this season.

Bigman38 writes: Last year, Tom Farniok, Jacques Washington and Jarvis West were relatively unknown and now all three are great players for ISU. Who do you think fits into that category this year?

CW: Off the top of my head, I think a guy who you mentioned will become even more of a household name. That’s sophomore wide receiver Jarvis West. The guy is due for a big season as a wide receiver and on special teams. We only saw a shell of what he is capable of in 2011.

To directly answer your question, I’ll go with another offensive player and one on defense as well. Offensively, let’s go with junior tight end Ernst Brun. I don’t think that he’ll put up Collin Franklin numbers but Brun brings a legitimate downfield threat back to the tight end position at Iowa State. Add Carter Bykowski and Ethan Tuftee from the offensive line as well. Everybody knows how high I am on Bykowski but Tuftee quietly had an outstanding offseason I’ve been told.

On defense, linebacker Jeremiah George is the obvious answer. Far and away, he’s the most improved players on Iowa State’s roster and something tells me that Wally Burnham is going to have a hard time keeping him off of the field. Honorable mention on defense goes to Durrell Givens and Jansen Watson in the secondary. I love Iowa State’s secondary. Just love it.

If the defensive line can get some pressure on the quarterback, watch out.

Triggermv writes: Which ISU receiver do you see having the most receptions this season?

CW: This is my stone cold lock of the day. Josh Lenz is the answer to this question and I really didn’t have to think about it at all. After all, Lenz, a senior, was second on the team in receptions behind Darius Reynolds a season ago. I think the only threat to knock him off of this throne would be Aaron Horne, a guy who is kind of a toss-up going into the season. But yeah, I’ll stick with Lenz and I’m very comfortable in doing so.

Gocy444 writes: How much will the Big 12 schedule affect West Virginia and TCU?

CW: A lot. A lot, a lot. I’m not one of those media guys who is buying into these programs waltzing in and dominating the Big 12 from day one. I’ve always been ‘the guy’ who said, “Hey Boise – play in the Big 12 for nine straight weeks. Then talk to me.”

TCU comes from the Mountain West – a mid-major. West Virginia, a team that was only a few plays away from being 6-6 last season, comes from the Big East – another mid-major (sorry BCS).

Both are quality programs that very well might knock off Iowa State this season but playing in this league on a week-by-week basis, especially this year when it is going to be so strong, is going to leave a mark in my opinion. Both are middle of the pack Big 12 teams in my mind. They need a few years to catch up with the power brokers of the league.

IHavNoCyCash writes: What game on our schedule do you think has the best chance to be our "Oklahoma State" win this year?

CW: I don’t think there will be an “Oklahoma State” win this year. However, I do think there will be a “Texas or Nebraska” type of win. I’ve been asked a lot this offseason and I’ve been pretty consistent in picking either at TCU or West Virginia at home as that “upset.” Not as major as OSU from a year ago, but significant. Reason? Read the above question and it’s a pretty good indicator.

What game do you think will be the toughest for ISU?

CW: At Texas on Nov. 10. I’m buying into Mack Brown’s team this season. That defense will be freak nasty. I’m not a fan of that game at all. 

VeloClone writes: Which team on the Iowa State schedule this year is most overrated and which is most underrated?

CW: Overrated: As a team, either TCU or West Virginia for all of the reasons that I’ve outlined above.

Underrated: Texas Tech at home on Sept. 29. This will by far be Tommy Tuberville’s best football team since he got to Lubbock. I think that a lot of Cyclone fans have not penciled, but inked that one down as a win. Yes, it’s a game that Iowa State needs if it wants to go bowling. But something tells me it will be tougher than most are expecting.

CLONECONES writes: Can Shontrelle Johnson get it done?

CW: Get what done exactly?

Be the best running back on Iowa State’s roster? Yes sir and I think that when we all recap the season in January, he’ll lead the Cyclones in all major rushing categories.

KFitzy87 writes: More or less sacks this year?

CW: Iowa State ended the 2011 season ranked 106thin America in sacking the quarterback. Yucky. It isn’t possible to get much worse than that is it?

More sacks in 2012. You read it here first.

Goclones69 writes: How many snaps do you see Jared Barnett playing this year??

CW: 111 exactly.

Just kidding. I don’t know. There are so many factors that go into attempting to answer a somewhat impossible question like this you know?

I don’t think there is as much of a difference between Barnett and Steele Jantz as many people out there believe. Knowing how Paul Rhoads likes to use quarterbacks (see 2009), I’ll be shocked if Barnett doesn’t take a bunch of meaningful snaps this season.

Plus if the offense hits a snag midway through the year, starting Barnett as a spark plug type of guy would make a lot of sense too. He’ll play. I’m pretty confident about that. If he doesn’t, that’s a great thing for Iowa State because it means Steele Jantz is doing some very good things.

ISUAgronomist writes: If you had to choose between the TCU and WVU games as your ONLY game to attend this season which game would you attend? Consider only the potential product on the field and consider your potential tailgating experiences as equal to negate the JTS effect clouding the answer.

CW: I’d go to the West Virginia game. It’s on Black Friday. It’s in Ames. It’s nationally televised. That place should be electric. You can’t beat the home atmosphere if you’re a diehard fan. Just my opinion. 

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