Iowa State Cyclones Preview 2022: Season Prediction, Breakdown, Key Games, Players

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Iowa State Cyclones Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Iowa State season with what you need to know and keys to the season.

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Iowa State Cyclones Preview
Head Coach: Matt Campbell, 7th year at Iowa State, 42-34
12th year overall: 77-48, 2021 Preview
2021 Record: Overall: 7-6, Conference: 5-4
Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Top 10 Players | Iowa State Schedule & Analysis

Iowa State Cyclones Preview 2022

Yeah, it wasn’t the season everyone hoped for after a phenomenal 2020 – and with just about all the key parts back – and yeah, it ended with a bowl loss, and yeah, there were only seven wins for a team many thought was among the ten best in the country, and …

Take a wee step back here. Of course the bar is set higher now at Iowa State and just being very good with a bowl experienceis expected, but this isn’t normal. This run of success off of Matt Campbell is way off brand for Iowa State football.

Just ask any Cyclone fan who lived through the 1990s – an entire decade without a winning season – or when two wins were the norm for a while in the 1960s, or when it was a big deal just to get a conference win for years and years.

The 7-6 2021 season made it five straight winning campaigns. The last time the program was able to do that was from 1923 to 1928, and it took just four victories each season get there.

Going forward, this is the rebuilding year. This is when everything Campbell and his staff created has to work with this being about the systems and talent development.

This year is about consistency, and about showing that Iowa State football will be a power player in the new Big 12 in 2023.

Iowa State Cyclones Preview 2022: Offense

Not to offense shame here, but the Iowa State defense was great last season. The other side didn’t always hold up its end of the bargain even though it finished fourth in the Big 12 in total yards.

The downfield passing game wasn’t good enough, the ground attack wasn’t consistent enough considering it had Breece Hall to handle the work, and overall it had a strange way of not coming through in the clutch, even though there was plenty of fourth quarter scoring. Five of the six losses were by a touchdown or less, and turnovers led to the ten-point loss to Iowa.

Now there’s a lot of work to do.

The running game had to rely on statistical superstar Breece Hall to be automatic each and every time out. Now it’s up to junior Jirehl Brock to try being the next big great back – he ran for 174 yards last season – with a flew of slippery-quick backups in the mix.

The offensive line that led the Big 12 in tackles for loss allowed and pointed away for 175 rushing yards or more in seven of the last ten regular season games has to do some shuffling around All-Big 12 blocker Trevor Downing – he ended last year at guard but will likely work at center. The depth hast to be developed, but the line will be fine.

It was Brock Purdy’s passing game over the last four years, and now it’s Hunter Dekkers’ turn. A 6-3, 235-pound sophomore, he has been the main backup over the last two seasons and looked ready to roll this offseason.

The passing game is missing the amazing tight end tandem of Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen, but it gets back First Team All-Big 12 receiver Xavier Hutchinson. He caught 83 passes, but he needs to hit more deep shots. There’s enough overall experience – Jaylin Noel caught 38 passes – to spread it around, but Hutchinson is the first choice.

Overall, the offense should maintain the production, but …

Iowa State Cyclones Preview 2022: Defense

The defense has to undergo an overhaul. There are all-star parts to start with, but there’s a boatload of lost production from the ninth-best defense in the nation and No. 1 pass D in the Big 12.

Great defense is the norm now in Ames, but it’s still a problem to lose Mike Rose and Jake Hummel from the linebacking corps and safety Greg Eisworth. However …

Will McDonald is one of the nation’s best pass rushers. He’s a fixture on one side, and Isaiah Lee is a solid tackle to reform the defensive interior around. Blake Peterson was mainly a reserve, but he should be ready to roll on the other side of McDonald.

Yeah, Rose and Hummel were fantastic, but Gerry Vaughn is a 235-pound thumper who can work in the middle and make lots and lots of tackles, and O’Rien Vance is a reliable veteran on the outside who should be stronger after missing a chunk of last season.

The secondary isn’t a huge concern, but it’s almost certainly not going to be as productive after allowing just 188 passing yards per game.

Anthony Johnson is a versatile option who’ll move to safety after working at corner, but the transfer portal was a problem. Safety Isheem Young is off to Ole Miss and corner Datrone Young is taking off for Duke.

Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Top 10 Players | Iowa State Schedule & Analysis

Iowa State Cyclones: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT

Iowa State Cyclones: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats

Iowa State Cyclones: Key To The 2022 Offense

Move the chains better and more consistently.

It was the weirdest thing. The offense had a future NFL star running back in Breece Hall, the best tight end tandem in college football, and a veteran quarterback in Brock Purdy who hit 71% of his passes. Even with everything in place, there were way too many times when the offense struggled on third downs.

The 2020 team had a knack of almost always keeping things going – converting 45% of its third down tries – but last year’s attack converted just 36% of its attempts.

The team was able to win once in a while when it struggled to keep moving, but the O was under 36% in the losses to Iowa, Baylor, West Virginia, and Oklahoma. Two of the three losses in 2020 came when the O didn’t hit 36%.

Iowa State Cyclones: Key To The 2022 Defense

Generate even more big plays.

It’s hard to ask a defense with so many new parts to do even more to take the ball away and be disruptive, but the pass rush should be good and this coaching staff knows how to force mistakes.

The D spread out 11 interceptions last season, but it only came up with four recovered fumbles on the 16 forced, and two came in the win over Texas.

Of course turnovers matter to everyone, but in the overall picture of what Iowa State does – and how the team is great at capitalizing on momentum – takeaways are a big deal.

Over the 20 losses over the last four years, Iowa State came up with multiple takeaways in just four of them.

Iowa State Cyclones: Key Player To The 2022 Season

RB Jirehl Brock, Soph.
With a new starting quarterback and all those new guys on D, controlling the clock with a new running back matters.

No pressure, but Iowa State is going from three years of David Montgomery running the ball to three years of Breece Hall as the main man. All of that was coming off a 1,300-yard season from Mike Warren in 2015.

The downfield passing game has to be better, a whole slew of defensive parts need to rise up, and losing kicker Andrew Mevis is a big deal, but the offense and team need to work around Brock, or one of the other running back options.

Iowa State Cyclones: Key Transfer

LB Colby Reeder, Sr.
There’s no instantly replacing what Mike Rose and Jake Hummel brought to the linebacking corps, but Iowa State has a good tandem of O’Rien Vance and Gerry Vaughn to start with.

In comes the 6-3, 235-pound Reeder from Delaware with a great combination of pop against the run and pass rushing quickness. He should be a disruptive force right out of the box.

Iowa State Key Game To The 2022 Season

Baylor, Sept. 24
Okay, Iowa State. Just how ready are you to be a player in the Big 12 title race? The Big 12 opener is at home against the defending conference champion – and Baylor might even be better in a few ways. Last year was a tough 31-29 loss, but this time around it’s in Ames.

With Kansas and a home game against Kansas State to follow, beat the Bears and 3-0 in the Big 12 is possible before dealing with Texas and Oklahoma.

Iowa State Cyclones: 2021 Fun Stats

– 4th down conversions: Iowa State 15-of-22 (68%) – Opponents 7-of-18 (39%)
– Field Goals: Iowa State 22-of-24 – Opponents 8-of-14
– 2nd half scoring: Iowa State 211 – Opponents 105

O, D Breakdown | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Top 10 Players | Iowa State Schedule & Analysis

Iowa State Cyclones Season Prediction, What Will Happen NEXT

Iowa State Cyclones Season Prediction, What Will Happen

There’s still a lot of talent around.

The defense might lose a ton of all-star starters, and the offense has to replace the backfield, and that’s all after winning seven games last year with way too many close, tight losses.

Almost everything went like it was supposed to except for the veteran team pulling out the close battles. Forgetting the 16-10 win over Northern Iowa from the FCS, after that the team was 1-5 in games decided by seven points or fewer.

Can the lesser experienced team with all of the question marks start to pull out those wins? Even though last year’s version was able to win seven in the regular season …

Set The Iowa State Cyclones Regular Season Win Total At … 7

SE Missouri, Ohio, and throw in at Kansas in the mix. There should be a base of three wins, and considering the Cyclones should be better as the season goes on, winning November games against West Virginia and Texas Tech is a must.

There will be a big win somewhere, but going to Iowa – even though that’s always a 50/50 rivalry battle – Texas, Oklahoma State, and TCU will all be fights to go along with tough home games against Baylor and Oklahoma.

Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
Top 10 Players | Iowa State Schedule & Analysis

2022 College Football Schedules: All 131 Teams