In three years at Iowa State, Paul Rhoads has taken Iowa State from a doormat to a competent team. The Cyclones are no longer a team that the opposition can expect to pencil in as a victory. Just ask Iowa, UConn, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. The Cyclones beat all of those teams last season. Some were bigger wins than others but all were important victories for Rhoads and his team. The Cyclones finished the regular season at 6-6 after dropping a game by seven points at #11 Kansas State. Despite losing to Rutgers in this years Insight Bowl, Rhoads has now taken Iowa State to bowl games in two out of the last three years and is looking to taking them further. We caught up with the gang at Wide Right & Natty Lite to get their take on the 2011 Iowa State Cyclones and to get a sneak peak into 2012.
CFBZ: You said before the season that you thought the Cyclones would go 5-7 or 6-6. After finishing 6-7 how do you feel about the season?
Wide Right & Natty Lite: It definitely ended on a sour note, as the offense looked completely unprepared in the Pinstripe Bowl, and Jared Barnett finally looked 100% freshman. But overall, the season was a success. The team found a way to come together after a bad stretch (Texas, Baylor, Missouri, Texas A&M) and pulled off the biggest upset of the college football season. I think a lot of people around the country discovered that Iowa State was no longer a team to be taken lightly. I'm also fairly certain that any Alabama fan would declare Iowa State's season a success as well...
CFBZ: Iowa State used two QBs this year. Who would you like to see as the full-time starter in 2012?
Wide Right & Natty Lite: Given that each of the QBs produced half of our win total, you would want the QB with more time left to play take the job. I think a lot of Iowa State fans were hoping Steele Jantz would step in and rediscover the magic he found during the Iowa game this year when he came in for Barnett in the bowl game, but he looked just as out of sync if not more so than Barnett. In short, absolutely Jared Barnett, who will be a redshirt sophomore over the senior Jantz.
CFBZ: If you could have a "do over" for any game which would it be?
Wide Right & Natty Lite: The Texas game to open Big 12 conference play is the game that a lot of Iowa State fans would like to have back. The program had the most momentum it had seen in years with a primetime slot on FX against the biggest brand in college football. Three turnovers later and the Cyclones are digging out of a hole against a team that was not all that much more talented, handing them the game over on a silver platter. This feeling ended up setting the tone for most of the month of October.
CFBZ: What is the lasting memory you will have of this season?
Wide Right & Natty Lite: Well, this is easy, isn't it? 50,000 fans all trying to fit on the field at Jack Trice on November 18th, 2011. I personally picked up the flu that day from being outside for what seemed like 20 hours, but it was worth it. As any Iowa State fan knows all too well, there was always the prevailing thought in the back of the mind that Iowa State would blow it somehow, after the pick, after Oklahoma State tied in the first OT, or fumble during the last scoring play... But it never happened.
CFBZ: Heading into the off-season what are the biggest concerns about this team for 2012?
Wide Right & Natty Lite: The biggest concern for this team is the defensive backfield. With defensive backs coach Bobby Elliot moving on to Notre Dame, and former starters Leonard Johnson (likely day 2 draft pick) and Ter'Ran Benton graduating, Iowa State will have to rely on a combination of freshmen and JUCOs and yet to be named DB coach to fill the void.
Previous 2011 Exit Surveys