The 2009 Iowa State Cyclone football team surprised many with their 7-6 final record and an Insight Bowl victory over Minnesota last week. Here’s the beginning of our comprehensive 2009 season in review here at CycloneFanatic.com. Today, we’ll go inside the numbers to see where the Cyclones ended up statistically among the rest of the college football teams in America.
Most Impressive Offensive Number 180 – The 2009 Cyclone offense averaged 180 rushing yards per game. That ranked them 35th in the country and third in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. This number would have been much better had Alexander Robinson not been slowed down greatly due to a groin injury. Robinson didn’t even play in Iowa State’ s 9-7 win over Nebraska. Robinson only carried the football four times against Kansas State and really wasn’t 100 percent for more than four games in the season. Robinson averaged 99.58 yards per game and tallied 1,195 yards on the season.
Jeremiah Schwartz chipped in nicely when Robinson was down to total 274 yards.
Quarterback Austen Arnaud had a great year running the football by averaging 46.75 yards per game.
Why is this number so impressive? It’s simple. Improvement. During 2008, Iowa State was the 67th best rushing team in America and averaged only 138.42 yards a game. Robinson’s stats improved greatly as well. As a sophomore in 2008, Robinson averaged only 63.91 yards a game.
The rushing numbers were also impressive because they were so unexpected. Heading into the year, we knew that Alexander Robinson was good, but when Tom Herman was announced as Iowa State’s new offensive coordinator under Paul Rhoads, Cyclones fans had visions of 400-yard passing performances dancing in their heads. That didn’t happen as Iowa State’s real bread and butter on offense was keeping the football on the ground behind an elusive back and a big offensive line.
Final Offensive Numbers
Total Offense – 73rd at 364.69 yards per game Rushing Offense – 35th at 180 yards per game Passing Offense – 94th at 184.69 yards per game Scoring Offense – 103rd at 20.54 points per game Sacks Allowed – 21st at 1.23 sacks per game
Most Impressive Defensive Number Positive defensive numbers were hard to come by for the 2009 Cyclones but one is an obvious choice for this award. That’s the .31 advantage that Iowa State had in turnover margin over their opponents. That number ranked the Cyclone defense tied for 36th in America to end the year. Iowa State’s defense under Wally Burnham recorded 32 turnovers (up from 26 last year) on the season by picking off 15 passes and forcing 17 fumbles. Eight of those turnovers came in that Oct. 24 win over Nebraska. David Sims recorded five of those Iowa State interceptions in 2009.
Final Defensive Team Numbers Total Defense – 99th at 415.85 yards per game Rush Defense – 86th at 165.69 yards per game Pass Defense – 102nd at 250.15 yards per game Sacks – 111th at 1.23 per game
The Heart of the D Senior linebacker Jesse Smith gets his own portion of this column. The former walk on averaged 10.38 tackles per game in 2009 to earn him a spot on the First Team All-Big 12 team. Smith was named the Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week after the Nebraska game when he recorded 12 tackles and forced two turnovers.
A Special Teams Wrap Other than some extra point issues at the beginning of the seasons, Iowa State was fairly consistent with their 2009 special teams.
Punter Mike Brandtner averaged 40.76 yards per kick, which ranked him 59th in America. A handful of draft analysts believe that Brandnter has a future in the NFL. Brandtner’s most impressive number was his 38.30 average in net punting, which was 12th in America. He obviously has a kick coverage team to thank for that stat as well.
Kicker Grand Mahoney averaged 1.42 field goals per game while scoring 7.0 points per game. Mahoney went 13-for-20 on field goals this season. His big issue was the 26-for-30 number on extra points, including two missed PAT’s against Kansas on Oct. 10.
Iowa State’s noticeable drop-off from 2008 was in the kickoff return category. Last year, Iowa State was the 12th best kick return team in America behind Leonard Johnson’s 26.38 yards per return. Iowa State dropped to 71st in the nation in 2009 averaging 21.44 yards per return.
Looking Ahead… What needs to improve for 2010… Two things stand out.
1) Iowa State absolutely needs more efficiency at the quarterback position. Austen Arnaud threw 13 interceptions compared to 14 touchdowns in 2009. The Iowa State passing attack was ranked 96th in efficiency to end the season.
2) The entire defense needs to continue to get better. Sure, Iowa State’s 2009 defense had heart and created some very important turnovers, but the overall numbers simply have to improve if the Cyclones want to go bowling again in 2010. Giving up over 415 yards a game will not cut it against a much stronger 2010 schedule.
Keep checking out CycloneFanatic.com over the next month for more looks back at the 2009 season. We’ll also look ahead to 2010.