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Monday, October 02, 2006

Iowa State Preview

Location: Ames, Iowa
Enrollment: 26,000
Conference: Big 12
Stadium: Jack Trice Stadium (Capacity: 50,935)
First Year of Football: 1894
All Time Record: 464-545-46 (.462)

Head Coach: Dan McCarney
Twelfth year as head coach at Iowa State: Career record 54-77

· In a phrase I never thought I would type...Dan McCarney is presently the dean of Big 12 coaches.
· McCarney was a three-year letterman on the offensive line at Iowa (1972-74) and was captain of the 1974 team.
· Only 16 teams in the 114 year history of Iowa State football have won at least seven games. McCarney has coached five of those squads in the last six years.

Team Overview

Last Season: The Cyclones finished 7-5 in 2005 after dropping their final two games at Kansas in overtime and in the Houston Bowl to TCU.

This Season: The Cyclones are attempting to finally turn the corner in 2006, which means avoiding upsets, like last season’s 23-13 home loss to Baylor. Iowa State is 3-2 in 2006, with losses to Iowa and Texas. Last week the Cyclones had to come from behind to beat Northern Iowa. Bret Meyer hit John Davis from 16 yards out with 1:05 remaining to secure the Iowa State victory.

On Offense: The Iowa State offense returns nine starters from 2005. The Cyclones currently rank 53rd nationally averaging 356.6 yards of total offense per game. Iowa State is led by junior quarterback Bret Meyer who hurts teams with both his arm and with his ability to scramble. In 2006 he has thrown for 1186 yards and 7 TDs and run for an additional 152 yards and 4 touchdowns. Nebraska’s recent troubles versus mobile quarterbacks will once again be something to watch come Saturday night. At running back the Cyclones count on Omaha Prep graduate Stevie Hicks. Hicks was a 1,000-yard rusher as a sophomore but injuries forced him to miss most or all of five games last year. In 2006, Hicks is averaging a respectable 72.6 yards per game, for a Cyclone running attack that has yet to get on track. Iowa State is currently 81st nationally in rushing yards/game. Iowa State boasts one of the best receiving corps in the Big 12. The Cyclones’ big play target remains 6-5, 210-pound junior Todd Blythe who has been an all-conference pick in each of his first two seasons. Blythe shows a great ability to get open, but is even more dangerous when the ball is in the air as he attacks the ball and out maneuvers smaller DBs. In 2006 Blythe has 19 receptions for 257 yards and 5 TDs. As dangerous as Blythe is, he is behind both Jon Davis and Austin Flynn in receptions this season. The 6-4 strong-bodied Davis has returned from an Achilles injury to lead the Cyclones with 304 yards receiving in 2006. The third weapon at receiver for ISU is converted QB Austin Flynn. Flynn runs precise routes and has great hands in traffic. He currently has a team leading 23 receptions for 287 yards. The Iowa State offensive line is big on both experience and size. All Big 12 performer Scott Stephenson anchors the line from his center position. The Cyclones line also relies on bookend OTs Scott Fisher and Aaron Brant who go 6-7 335 and 6-4 320 and respectively. The guards are Tom Schmeling and Seth Zehr. Look for the ISU OL to neutralize Nebraska’s front four and force the Huskers to blitz to create pressure on Meyer.

On Defense: Last season the Cyclones relied upon a high-risk, attacking and blitzing 4-3 defense that produced 35 takeaways. This season ISU continues to blitz from its back seven, but the Cyclones are struggling defensively and currently rank 91st nationally in total defense and 96th in scoring defense. This year’s struggles begin with the defensive line that was forced to rebuild following the losses of Nick Leaders and Jason Berryman. The Cyclones best player up front is probably athletic DT Brent Curvey. Nicknamed “Big Play,” Curvey leads the DL with 18 tackles, 4.5 TFL and 2.5 sacks. ISU’s best outside pass rusher is DE Shawn Moorehead. Moorehead who has 2 sacks in 2006, has an amazing motor and will test the Nebraska O-line. Iowa State has a tremendous duo at OLB. Junior Alvin Bowen is tall and rangy at 6-4, 220, but has tremendous speed on the outside. He leads the Cyclones with 69 tackles. Michigan State transfer Tyrone McKenzie joins Bowen on the outside. McKenzie appears to be a sprinter trapped in a 230-pound body and has the type of athleticism that will remind Husker fans of Eric Johnson or Jamel Williams. McKenzie has 56 stops, 4 TFL, and an interception in 2006. Adam Carper has been a steady performer for the 'Clones at MLB. The Cyclones’ secondary lost 3 key members from a 2005 unit that produced a number of big plays. The best player in ISU’s secondary is senior CB DeAndre Jackson. Jackson hits like a safety and is known to take a lot of risks. Those risks paid off in 2005 as Jackson came away with 5 INTs and 4 forced fumbles. In 2006 he has yet to pick off his first pass, but has 22 stops and a forced fumble. The other corner position is manned by sophomore Chris Singleton. Singleton leads the Cyclones with 2 INTs and has seen a lot of balls come his way as teams avoid throwing at Jackson. The leading tackler in the Iowa State secondary is FS Jon Banks with 42 stops. The other safety spot is manned by York, NE native Caleb Berg. Banks and Berg are both strong, physical safeties who excel against the run. Overall, the Iowa State defense needs to generate a better pass rush and improve against opponents’ power running games.

Special Teams: Kicker Bret Culbertson is a steady performer, but does not have a strong leg. He is 3-4 on the season, but 0-1 on attempts longer than 40 yards out. The ISU punter is Mike Brandtner who averages just under 40 yards/punt. Punt returner Ryan Baum is dangerous. He is averaging over 18 yards/return and returned one to the house versus UNI. DeAndre Jackson is a solid kickoff returner and averages 23 yards/return with a season long of 62 yards.

Random Notes

Series History: This marks the 101st meeting between the two schools. Nebraska leads the series 82-16-2.

I Can’t Believe I Looked It Up Either: Coming into this season Iowa State was 14-6 all-time in night games at Jack Trice Stadium. This season all three of their wins have come in night games at home. The Cyclones are 2-1 all-time versus Big 12 North teams at night at Jack Trice.

Cyclone warning! Duck and cover!: Here is a glimpse of Iowa State’s pregame entrance versus UNI. I don’t know, with that choice of music and all the smoke machines it feels a bit like MTV’s The Grind with host Eric Nies…Word to ya mutha.

The Blight of Blythe: Junior wideout Todd Blythe has killed Nebraska during his career. In two games versus the Huskers he has 11 catches for 239 yards and a TD. Nebraska coaches have considered the possibility of moving the lanky, but seldom used QB Beau Davis to cornerback to match up with Blythe. No, not really, I just made that up.
Todd Blythe - Killing stereotypes one big play at a time.

Six Degrees of Beano Cook: Thanks LeKevin. In 2005, Iowa State beat Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State beat Texas Tech. Texas Tech beat...Nebraska.