Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads says the goal for the Cyclones remains the same for this season and that’s win a bowl game. The Cyclones slumped to 3-9 a year ago and with a lot of holes to fill, especially on defense, expectations are low as the Cyclones prepare for a new season. “We haven’t achieved it since 2009 and it’s an expectation that I’ve place on our program on a yearly basis,” Rhoads says. “You don’t back off that, we not only want to get into the postseason, but we want to win in the postseason. And I don’t think there’s a lot a people in this room that think that’s possible, and that’s okay. We are working every day to get there.”
Rhoads says his expectations for the program are not low as they are looking to win every game when they take the field. “We’ve got a loyal fan base that I’ll put up against anybody’s in the country, and they’ve shown that with record ticket sales and attendance…and we can’t wait to run out and play for them again on August 30th,” Rhoads says.
Rhoads likes the schedule this year. The Cyclones’ Big 12 opener is in week two against Kansas State and there are three off weeks, but there are no Thursday night games. A year ago, ISU had two Thursday games. “Last year stunk, it was awful. We didn’t play a normal Saturday-to-Saturday game until mid-October,” Rhoads says.
The race at quarterback is between two veterans: Junior Sam Richardson and sophomore Grant Rohach. He says they are on the same line on the depth chart and Rhoads says they both have been doing some good things.
New offensive coordinator Mark Mangino will direct an attack that Rhoads says is more different than it is new. He says the reads and progressions and the way plays are called are new. Several junior college transfers will be counted on to help a defense that struggled a year ago and is thin up front.
Prized recruit Allen Lazard is expected to make an immediate impact. The Urbandale product was considered one of the top receivers in the country. “Obviously I’ve been wanting to come here since I was a little kid, having my dad play here, having my brother play here, knowing the people on the team. It’s definitely an experience I will never forget,” Lazard says.
Lazard says he is making the adjustments to the physical demands of college football. He says practice is more physical than high school.
Lazard says the first week of practice taught him he needs more work on route running. “Being more efficient with it, reading the coverage, knowing what the defense is trying to do to stop me. Just kind of having a counter attack and being able to get open,” Lazard says.
Iowa State opens against defending FCS champion North Dakota State on August 30th.