Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here. Below, a unique review of last year's team, a unit-by-unit breakdown of this year's roster, the full 2016 schedule with win projections for each game, and more.
1. Unique vs. good
Steven Godfrey and I started Podcast Ain't Played Nobody last August. It's rewarding and fun, and it seems to have developed a pretty dedicated audience.
While maintaining a weekly podcast, you start to pick up themes, and one of the steadiest at PAPN is the idea of hard jobs. No job is particularly easy in college football, but hard jobs remain hard forever. You are constantly swimming upstream, and while you may succeed for a while, all it takes is a lapse, and you're plummeting.
Iowa State isn't the hardest job in FBS, but it makes the list. Over the last two decades, we've seen you can have temporary success (Dan McCarney went 9-3 in 2000, and ISU spent part of 2002 in the AP top 10) and that you can pull memorable upsets. Just ask 2011 Oklahoma State.
It is really, really difficult to maintain. McCarney went 22-9 from 2000 through the first half of 2002, then lost 19 of 24. He rallied to win 12 of 16, then lost 10 of 13. Paul Rhoads eked out three bowl bids in his first four years; while he never won more than seven games in a season, this was still a decent baseline. But then he went 8-28.
Iowa State has won more than seven games in a season just seven times in nearly 120 years: twice in the 1900s (while beating teams like Coe, Morningside, Grinnell, and Omaha Light Guards), four times in the 1970s, and once since 1978. The Cyclones are further removed from the Big 12's primary talent base (Texas) than anybody else in the conference (recent addition WVU aside, anyway) and generate the least revenue. ISU is a fine school with fun fans and renovated facilities, but you have to be great to be good in Ames.
When the conversation drifts to Hard Jobs on PAPN, it's usually followed by a discussion of how you win in these jobs. How creative do you have to get? How important is it to zig when everyone else is zagging? Kansas went 12-1 in 2007 with Mark Mangino's efficiency-based spread offense, something that was still a little bit of a novelty. But now that everyone in the Big 12 is spreading things out, would it make more sense to load up on power? Go with full-on option football, maybe? Call Navy's Ken Niumatalolo?
This can work beautifully. Cranky old Paul Johnson has been to two Orange Bowls at Georgia Tech and didn't miss the postseason in his first seven years. Stanford went from Hard Job to power program because of recruiting, competition, and big-boy football.
You don't have to look for a guy who's tactically different, though. Bill Snyder didn't do anything particularly unique when building Kansas State. James Franklin wasn't exactly running Chip Kelly's offense when he won nine games in back-to-back years at Vanderbilt.
Uniqueness can mean charisma and organization. That's what Iowa State's hoping. In hiring Matt Campbell from Toledo to replace Rhoads, the Cyclones didn't bring the triple option; they brought in a guy with solid recruiting chops, energy, a track record, and Mount Union in his DNA.
Larry Kehres built a dynasty at Mount Union over three decades, winning 11 Division III national titles between 1993 and 2012. When he retired in 2012, Union had won 21 consecutive conference titles. His son Vince succeeded him and has been to three D3 title games in a row, winning one. His nephew Erik Raeburn has won 135 games in 16 years at D3's Coe and Wabash and, in a truly fearless, confident move, just took the Savannah State job.
Campbell was a defensive lineman for Kehres from 1999-2002, then took over as Union's offensive coordinator at the age of 25. He moved up to the MAC, serving as an assistant at Bowling Green and Toledo, then taking the Toledo OC job under Tim Beckman in 2010. When Beckman left following 2011, Toledo was so impressed that it named Campbell head coach at age 32. And all he did was win nine games three times in four years.
At Toledo, Campbell was able to outrecruit most of the MAC, at least until WMU's P.J. Fleck came along. That's not an advantage he's going to have in Ames. But let's put it this way: Over the last six years, Toledo graded out better than ISU in S&P+ five times. With fewer resources and no power-conference draw, Campbell was able to build and/or maintain a team that outperformed the Cyclones.
Campbell doesn't have to generate top-20 classes to improve Iowa State. And the bar isn't incredibly high. There's a good chance he'll clear it.
|Record: 3-9 | Adj. Record: 6-6 | Final F/+ Rk: 79 | Final S&P+ Rk: 70|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Percentile
|10-Oct||at Texas Tech||60||31-66||L||17%||1%||-24.0||-22.5|
|21-Nov||at Kansas State||81||35-38||L||65%||73%||-2.7||+3.0|
|28-Nov||at West Virginia||31||6-30||L||13%||0%||-9.6||-10.0|
|Points Per Game||25.0||93||32.7||97|
2. They either had the horses, or they didn't
Rhoads got a lot of mileage out of his upsets -- 9-7 over 10-win Nebraska in 2009, 28-21 at Texas in 2010, 37-31 over unbeaten Oklahoma State in 2011, three wins over teams with winning records in 2012. But those dried up.
Granted, ISU beat 7-6 Iowa and 9-4 Toledo in 2014, but that represented a quarter of the win total in his final three seasons in charge. And in his last campaign, ISU needed to punch its weight class to have even the slightest chance.
- ISU vs. F/+ top 60:
Avg. percentile performance: 34% (~top 85) | Record: 0-8 | Avg. score: Opp 42, ISU 22 | Yards per play: Opp 7.0, ISU 5.2 (-1.8)
- ISU vs. F/+ No. 61+:
Avg. percentile performance: 83% (~top 25) | Record: 3-1 | Avg. score: ISU 32, Opp 15 | Yards per play: ISU 5.8, Opp 4.3 (+1.5)
Against lesser opponents, ISU's defense was frisky and effective, forcing passing downs, then attacking effectively. But against teams with a pulse, that was not the case. A dreadfully thin line went from active to outmanned, and with the pass rush neutralized, the secondary couldn't afford to be aggressive. And it all fell apart.
ISU ended up ranking 66th in both Off. S&P+ and Def. S&P+. That was a pretty clear cutoff point -- against teams better than 66th, there were problems. Worse, and ISU was just fine. Unfortunately, the Cyclones didn't play too many teams worse than that.
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||41.6%||69||Succ. Rt. +||102.8||62|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||30.9||91||Def. FP+||29.8||68|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||4.0||106||Redzone S&P+||101.8||69|
|Q1 Rk||61||1st Down Rk||74|
|Q2 Rk||51||2nd Down Rk||69|
|Q3 Rk||76||3rd Down Rk||92|
3. A Campbell-Manning offense
Campbell clearly values the Union influence. When he took the head coaching job at Toledo, he made Jason Candle his offensive coordinator; Candle had succeeded him as offensive coordinator at Union in 2007, and, as fate would have it, succeeded him as Toledo's head coach, too.
Without Candle, Campbell simply promoted his offensive line coach, Tom Manning, to coordinator in Ames. Manning was, you guessed it, a teammate of Campbell's at Union and served as Kehres' offensive line coach in 2011.
One assumes ISU's philosophy will mirror Toledo's. Campbell and company crafted an interesting, power-based spread offense at UT, and with the pieces he inherits, you could see that working.
Toledo ran more frequently than normal on standard downs and threw more than normal on passing downs; the Rockets operated at a high pace (familiar in the Big 12) but played pretty physical ball. They weren't reliant on 1-on-1 situations, and they were happy to give the ball to bigger options like 225-pound running back Kareem Hunt.
With sophomore running back Mike Warren returning after an out-of-nowhere 1,339-yard debut, Campbell and Manning will probably be more than happy to give him the ball quite a bit. Manning will be working with a brand new offensive line, but at least they'll have a feature back.
Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|Joel Lanning||6'2, 232||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8120||107||193||1246||10||4||55.4%||24||11.1%||5.2|
|Zeb Noland||6'3, 215||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8300|
|Jacob Park||6'4, 205||So.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8417|
4. Matt Campbell doesn't have bad QBs
In 2011-12, Toledo pulled off a rare, healthy dual-QB system, with Terrance Owens and Austin Dantin combining for 6,672 yards and 52 touchdown passes. In 2014, starter Phillip Ely got hurt and was replaced by redshirt freshman Logan Woodside, who produced a 142.5 passer rating right out of the gates. In 2015, Ely returned and threw for nearly 3,000 yards.
The quality of Toledo's passing game varied from year to year, but it was never bad. And for an Iowa State team that hasn't ranked better than 87th in passer rating since 2008, that has to be a pretty exciting notion.
Part of the cause of ISU's constant aerial troubles has been a total lack of continuity. Between injury and ineffectiveness, ISU has gone through plenty of QBs. Since 2009, ISU has had at least two QBs throwing 70-plus passes in all but one year.
In 2012, Sam Richardson took over the starting job with a stellar performance in a backup role. In 2015, he was usurped in the same fashion. He completed just three of 11 passes with two interceptions as ISU fell behind Baylor 35-0 in the second quarter. Lanning entered the game, completed 12 of 17 passes, and led a 20-0 scoring run that made the game interesting for a bit. He was ISU's guy the rest of the year, with both high points (15-for-20, 212.3 passer rating against Kansas State) and low (17-for-34, 78.5 rating against WVU).
While former Georgia quarterback Jacob Park could have a role to play in the battle for starting QB when he reports in fall camp, it appears Lanning did all he could to take command of the job in spring practice. He's got nice mobility; he averaged 6.5 yards per non-sack carry, though like a lot of mobile QBs, he took far too many sacks. His accuracy needs work, but if there's any staff that can help with that, it's Campbell's.
|Mike Warren||RB||6'0, 200||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8593||227||1339||5||5.9||6.5||37.9%||5||5|
|Joel Lanning||QB||6'2, 232||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8120||70||457||4||6.5||5.3||50.0%||7||2|
|Trever Ryen||WR||5'11, 190||Jr.||NR||NR||17||71||1||4.2||3.7||35.3%||1||0|
|Mitchell Harger||RB||5'10, 200||Sr.||NR||NR||6||34||0||5.7||1.8||66.7%||0||0|
|Brian Bonacci||RB||5'11, 222||Sr.||NR||NR|
|Justin Webster||RB||6'1, 229||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8182|
|Sheldon Croney Jr.||RB||5'11, 212||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8189|
|Kene Nwangwu||RB||6'1, 185||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8426|
|David Montgomery||RB||5'11, 225||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8348|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Targets||Catches||Yards||Catch Rate||Target
|Allen Lazard||WR||6'5, 223||Jr.||4 stars (6.0)||0.9616||92||58||879||63.0%||23.5%||9.6||50.0%||52.2%||1.64|
|Jauan Wesley||SLOT||5'11, 181||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8391||51||30||298||58.8%||13.0%||5.8||68.6%||37.3%||1.49|
|Dondre Daley||WR||6'2, 191||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8116||36||24||244||66.7%||9.2%||6.8||55.6%||38.9%||1.77|
|Trever Ryen||WR||5'11, 190||Jr.||NR||NR||25||18||191||72.0%||6.4%||7.6||76.0%||48.0%||1.50|
|Mike Warren||RB||6'0, 200||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8593||22||14||70||63.6%||5.6%||3.2||54.5%||27.3%||1.06|
|Carson Epps||WR||6'1, 195||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8011||15||8||42||53.3%||3.8%||2.8||73.3%||33.3%||0.76|
|Justin Chandler||TE||6'4, 266||Sr.||NR||NR||2||2||49||100.0%||0.5%||24.5||50.0%||100.0%||2.21|
|Quan West||WR||6'4, 226||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8383|
|Brandon Harris||WR||6'0, 191||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7998|
|Darius Lee-Campbell||WR||6'2, 214||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8230|
|Cole Anderson||TE||6'4, 250||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8352|
|Denver Johnson||WR||6'3, 219||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8357|
|Hakeem Butler||WR||6'6, 202||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7893|
|Clifford Fernandez||TE||6'3, 255||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7998|
|Chase Allen||TE||6'6, 225||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8655|
|Deshaunte Jones||WR||5'10, 175||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8577|
|Jalen Martin||WR||6'3, 200||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8499|
|Dylan Soehner||TE||6'7, 280||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8348|
5. A couple of potential stars
ISU has a far stronger recent reputation for producing quality linemen than skill guys, but in 2016 it could be the reverse. Warren proved explosive and semi-efficient for a freshman, Allen Lazard, the rare blue-chip Rhoads signee, came into his own last fall. He averaged 9.6 yards per target, and in three big games (Iowa, TCU, Oklahoma), he produced big stats: 20 catches, 319 yards.
Meanwhile, the line is starting over. Injuries forced ISU to start seven different linemen at least once last fall, but five are now gone. Granted, stalwart left tackle Jake Campos is back, [Update: Campos might be out for the season] and the two-deep should still have a majority of juniors and seniors. But after ranking 39th in Adj. Line Yards last year, it might be hard to match that.
If the line holds up, then, the biggest issue might be skill depth. Warren and Lazard are great, but only one other returning receiver averaged even 7 yards per target, and Mitchell Harger is the second leading returning running back ... with six carries last year. If either Warren or Lazard get hurt, that could mean disaster.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||2015 Starts||Career Starts||Honors/Notes|
|Jake Campos||LT||6'8, 297||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8918||12||23|
|Nick Fett||LG||6'7, 313||Sr.||NR||NR||1||1|
|Jacob Dunning||RT||6'5, 300||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7757||0||1|
|Jaypee Philbert Jr.||RT||6'5, 314||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8528||0||0|
|Shawn Curtis||LT||6'5, 290||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8382||0||0|
|Jacob Homa||OL||6'4, 292||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8249||0||0|
|Kory Kodanko||OL||6'5, 316||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8241||0||0|
|Patrick Scoggins||RG||6'1, 293||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7957||0||0|
|Julian Good-Jones||C||6'5, 270||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8513|
|Bryce Meeker||LG||6'5, 303||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8306|
|Karson Green||RG||6'4, 295||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7859|
|Oge Udeogu||OL||6'3, 330||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8292|
|Sean Foster||OL||6'8, 285||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8893|
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||46.4%||111||Succ. Rt. +||95.3||85|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||29.9||64||Off. FP+||30.5||54|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||4.6||86||Redzone S&P+||96.8||81|
|Q1 Rk||77||1st Down Rk||73|
|Q2 Rk||76||2nd Down Rk||80|
|Q3 Rk||81||3rd Down Rk||45|
6. A Jon Heacock defense
When Toledo hired a super-young guy with spread offense tendencies, it was easy to lump him in with guys like Kliff Kingsbury, coaches with prodigious offenses and afterthought defenses. But that's not Campbell. He brought a little more size to the table than you imagine with the typical MAC spread, and on defense, when given the opportunity, he handed the keys to a Tresselite.
Jon Heacock was a graduate assistant for Bo Schembechler for two years, then ended up on Jim Tressel's Youngstown State staff for most of the 1990s. After a few years as Cam Cameron's DC at Indiana, he ended up back with Tressel in 2000. When Tressel took the Ohio State job, Heacock was the hand-picked successor at YSU. He spent nine up-and-down years leading the Penguins and won 11 games in 2006, but after going just 10-13 in 2008-09, his tenure ended. And he landed back on the Tressel tree, serving as Darrell Hazell's defensive coordinator in 2011 and 12 and, when Hazell moved to Purdue, his secondary coach in 2013. Campbell pounced on the opportunity.
After a dreadful defensive rebuild in 2014, in which Toledo ranked just 104th in Def. S&P+, Heacock's Rockets defense was fantastic last fall. They ranked 21st in Def. S&P+ and dominated up front: eighth in Rushing S&P+, third in Adj. Line Yards. Needless to say, ISU fans would take that.
Toledo rendered opponents one-dimensional in 2015, invading the backfield on standard downs and forcing opponents to pass. If Iowa State can pull that off, it has the secondary to do some serious damage. But depth up front could be a major hindrance for that formula.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Demond Tucker||DT||6'0, 296||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8722||12||23.0||3.2%||13.0||6.0||0||0||1||0|
|J.D. Waggoner||DE||6'3, 250||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8029||12||17.0||2.4%||3.0||1.0||0||1||0||0|
|Pierre Aka||DT||6'4, 293||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8526||10||15.0||2.1%||0.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Jhaustin Thomas||DE||6'6, 265||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||NR||8||12.0||1.7%||2.5||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Darius White||DE||6'1, 251||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.7996||11||7.0||1.0%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Vernell Trent||DT||6'3, 280||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8094||12||5.0||0.7%||0.0||0.0||0||0||1||0|
|Gabe Luna||DE||6'2, 243||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8041||2||2.0||0.3%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Bobby Leath||DT||6'3, 310||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8463|
|Terry Ayeni||DE||6'2, 270||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8474|
|Mitchell Meyers||DE||6'4, 263||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8298|
|Robby Garcia||DT||6'4, 283||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7888|
|Sam Seonbuchner||DE||6'2, 227||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8272|
|Seth Nerness||DE||6'4, 247||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8211|
|Eyioma Uwazurike||DE||6'6, 250||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8504|
|JaQuan Bailey||DE||6'2, 245||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8469|
7. Potential star power (and depth issues)
In Demond Tucker, Heacock inherits one of the quicker, more disruptive defensive tackles in the conference. And out of a pool of Jordan Harris, Willie Harvey, and Brian Mills, he should be able to find two decent anchors at linebacker. [Update: Harris has since transferred to Southern Miss.]
What else he'll have up front, I have no idea. The Cyclones have a ton of juniors and seniors and almost no proven productivity beyond Tucker and, to some small degree, ends J.D. Waggoner and Jhaustin Thomas. This was a decent front last year, but end Dale Pierson was a big part of that and he's gone. I assume competence here, but there won't be much havoc without Heacock having to take some risks.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Jordan Harris||MLB||6'0, 233||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7852||12||53.0||7.4%||5.0||1.0||1||0||0||0|
|Willie Harvey||WLB||6'0, 222||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7956||12||45.0||6.3%||3.0||2.0||0||1||0||0|
|Brian Mills||WLB||5'10, 226||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7926||9||34.5||4.8%||3.0||0.0||0||0||1||0|
|Kane Seeley||MLB||6'2, 239||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7759||12||17.5||2.5%||0.0||0.0||0||0||1||0|
|Josh Jahlas||LB||6'2, 204||Sr.||NR||NR||12||10.5||1.5%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Jack Spreen||LB||6'1, 212||Jr.||NR||NR||10||2.5||0.4%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Anthony Lazard||LB||6'1, 198||Sr.||NR||NR||7||2.0||0.3%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Bobby McMillen III||LB||6'1, 237||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8389|
|Marcel Spears Jr.||LB||6'1, 215||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8244|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Brian Peavy||CB||5'9, 184||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8094||12||68.0||9.5%||3.5||1||2||10||1||0|
|Jay Jones||CB||6'3, 209||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8000||12||38.0||5.3%||7||2||0||6||0||0|
|Jomal Wiltz||CB||5'10, 174||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7833||12||34.5||4.8%||0||0||0||8||0||0|
|Kamari Cotton-Moya||FS||6'1, 197||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8076||6||33.0||4.6%||2.5||0||0||1||0||0|
|Nigel Tribune||CB||5'11, 184||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8095||11||33.0||4.6%||1||0||0||7||2||0|
|Reggan Northrup||NB||6'1, 191||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8131||12||24.0||3.4%||2.5||1||0||0||0||0|
|De'Monte Ruth||FS||5'9, 163||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7983||6||2.5||0.4%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Vic Holmes||DB||5'11, 197||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8157||3||2.0||0.3%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Mike Johnson||SS||5'11, 182||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8578|
|Stephon Pickett-Brown||DB||6'0, 172||RSFr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8020|
|Lonnie Johnson||DB||6'3, 200||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8517|
|Thadd Daniels||SS||6'1, 200||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8200|
|D'Andre Payne||NB||5'10, 186||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8248|
|Lawrence White||DB||6'0, 170||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8357|
8. Punching your weight
Life in the Big 12 is misleading. In 2015, Iowa State was 112th in passer rating allowed, 112th in passing yards per game allowed, and 95th in completion rate allowed. That's awful. But adjusting for tempo and opponent, the Cyclones ranked a much healthier (but not healthy) 69th in Passing S&P+. They limited big plays reasonably well, and when they weren't facing top-notch passing games, they did alright.
- ISU pass defense (vs. Texas Tech, TCU, Baylor, OU, and OSU): 68% completion rate, 14.2 yards per completion, 19 TD, 1 INT, 179.2 passer rating
- ISU pass defense (vs. everyone else): 55% completion rate, 11.5 yards per completion, 9 TD, 4 INT, 117.9 passer rating
So the good news is, ISU was fine against lesser pass offenses. The bad news is, ISU's still in the Big 12. But at least the secondary is more experienced this time around. Corners Brian Peavy, Jay Jones, Jomal Wiltz, and Nigel Tribune are back after combining for 33 passes defensed and 11.5 tackles for loss. (Jones was a nickel back last year but spent time at CB this spring.) [Update: Tribune has been suspended indefinitely.] Plus, Campbell signed three JUCO defensive backs. I would assume ISU's Passing S&P+ rating rises into the 40-60 range this year. That's solid, but it will only help so much in this conference.
|Colin Downing||5'11, 187||Jr.||53||40.9||1||21||15||67.9%|
|Cole Netten||6'1, 224||Sr.||35||61.1||8||1||22.9%|
|Chris Francis||6'0, 177||So.||24||59.2||2||1||8.3%|
|Cole Netten||6'1, 224||Sr.||35-36||8-11||72.7%||6-8||75.0%|
|Chris Francis||6'0, 177||So.||1-1||0-0||N/A||0-0||N/A|
|Trever Ryen||KR||5'11, 190||Jr.||16||17.9||0|
|Jomal Wiltz||KR||5'10, 174||Sr.||12||22.6||0|
|Allen Lazard||PR||6'5, 223||Jr.||11||19.5||0|
|Trever Ryen||PR||5'11, 190||Jr.||11||15.4||1|
|Special Teams S&P+||65|
|Field Goal Efficiency||58|
|Punt Return Success Rate||3|
|Kick Return Success Rate||111|
|Punt Success Rate||42|
|Kickoff Success Rate||79|
9. Kickoffs > punts in the Big 12
As with the defense, special teams was a good news, bad news situation for ISU. Good: Punts and punt returns were a strength. Bad: The Big 12 is more of a kickoffs and kickoff returns kind of conference, and ISU was bad at those things. Still, the combination of Allen Lazard and Trever Ryan was utterly devastating and should remain a strength. And while kicker Cole Netten is a little less accurate than you'd like on shorter kicks, he can bomb in the long ones.
|Date||Opponent||Proj. S&P+ Rk||Proj. Margin||Win Probability|
|24-Sep||San Jose State||92||9.6||71%|
|8-Oct||at Oklahoma State||23||-14.8||20%|
|Projected wins: 5.1|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||-6.2% (74)|
|2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk||68 / 65|
|2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin*||-11 / -9.2|
|2015 TO Luck/Game||-0.7|
|Returning Production (Off. / Def.)||68% (65%, 71%)|
|2015 Second-order wins (difference)||4.8 (-1.8)|
10. Welcome to Ames
ISU wasn't that far from a bowl bid last year. The Cyclones had obvious issues, but they won three games handily and barely lost to Toledo, and it was staggering that they ended up losing either the Kansas State or Oklahoma State games, much less both. This team had more strong performances than you thought, even if most were against lesser teams.
Campbell inherits a pretty experienced team, albeit one without a ton of proven play-makers. With a schedule that allowed him to ease in a bit, you could see the Cyclones making a run at seven wins.
They could still make that run -- they're projected to win five, so it wouldn't take too much of a leap -- but the biggest issue could be confidence. By mid-October, ISU will have played at Iowa, TCU, Oklahoma State, and Texas and hosted Baylor. That is a brutal first half of a first season.
Regardless, I like the Campbell hire, and I assume he will have ISU steadily in the 5-7 to 8-4 range. He will sign top-50 recruiting classes and put a top-60 product on the field. For ISU in the short term, that would be spectacular. We'll worry about the long term later.