EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 23rd in a series of previews on West Virginia and Marshall football opponents.
n Date with WVU: Saturday, Nov. 29, time TBA
n Site: Jack Trice Stadium (56,800, grass), Ames, Iowa
n Series: Tied 1-1
n Last meeting: Iowa State defeated WVU, 52-44 in 3 overtimes, on Nov. 30, 2013 at Mountaineer Field
n Coach: Paul Rhoads (6th year, 27-36)
Checking them out
With all due respect to Dana Holgorsen and Tom Bradley, perhaps the best offseason hire of an assistant coach in the Big 12 was Paul Rhoads reeling in Mark Mangino as his offensive coordinator. The brash Mangino might have a rather checkered career as far as his personal conduct is concerned, but the guy can coach offense and somehow coaxed Kansas to a 12-1 record in 2007.
And if it’s one thing Rhoads and Iowa State need, it’s offense. The 44 points against WVU last year (in three overtimes) notwithstanding, the Cyclones just can’t score. Rhoads has always managed to do as well as just about anyone can in the Big 12 in playing defense, but as his record attests, defense won’t cut it in this league.
So what can Mangino do with ISU’s offense? Well, he’s got a bunch of guys who can catch the football. Led by Quenton Bundrage and the Tavon Austin-like Jarvis West, the Cyclones are so deep in receivers that four-star recruits Allen Lazard and D’Vario Montgomery (a USF transfer) won’t just step in and have spots. The running back corps is also deep and the line is anchored by a couple of NFL prospects in center Tom Farniok and tackle Brock Dagel.
The question mark, as it always seems to be, is at quarterback. Then-freshman Grant Rohach ended the 2013 season as the starter and passed for 331 yards and four touchdowns and ran 54 yards for another score against WVU, but with Mangino starting over, he’s giving everyone a shot at running his spread offense. That means don’t count out junior Sam Richardson or redshirt freshman Joel Lanning.
Iowa State has another big issue this season, as well. The defense that is usually its strong suit is rebuilding in a big way. There are three holes on a defensive line that wasn’t very good to begin with, the linebacking corps is without far-and-away its best from last year, Jeremiah George, and the secondary lost two terrific playmaking safeties.
And as if all of that wasn’t enough, the defense is also without perhaps its best weapon of all from last season. Punter Kirby Van Der Camp averaged 41.6 yards and put the defense in some good positions with 27 punts downed inside the 20.
Offense: TE E.J. Bibbs, WR Quenton Bundrage, C Tom Farniok
Defense: DL Cory Morrissey
Special teams: PR Jarvis West
Perhaps the reason Rhoads remains reasonably popular in Ames despite a 27-36 record is that he almost always seems to beat a good team. The highlight was knocking Oklahoma State out of the national title picture in 2011. Well, Oklahoma, Baylor and Kansas State all visit Ames this season, so if nothing else there’s a chance at another big win. … Three of Iowa State’s first four games are at home, but they come against Big 12 contenders Baylor and Kansas State (ISU lost those by a combined 112-14 last year) and perennial FCS champion North Dakota State (which beat Kansas State last year). The road game in there is at state rival Iowa. … Jack Trice Stadium is being expanded to 61,000 seats, which will make it a bit larger than WVU and Oklahoma State and into third place in the Big 12 behind Texas and Oklahoma. The renovation won’t be done until 2015.
Date Opponent 2013
Aug. 30 North Dakota State DNP
Sept. 6 Kansas State* L 7-41
Sept. 13 at Iowa L 21-27
Sept. 20 Open
Sept. 27 Baylor* L 7-71
Oct. 4 at Oklahoma State* L 27-58
Oct. 11 Toledo DNP
Oct. 18 Texas* L 30-31
Oct. 25 Open
Nov. 1 Oklahoma* L 10-48
Nov. 8 at Kansas* W 34-0
Nov. 15 Open
Nov. 22 Texas Tech* L 35-42
Nov. 29 West Virginia* W 52-44 (3ot)
Dec. 6 at TCU* L 17-21
* Big 12 Conference games
n 2013 record: 3-9 overall, 2-7 Big 12
n Dropped: Northern Iowa (L 20-28), Tulsa (W 38-21)