Nov 30, 2013; Morgantown, WV, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back Aaron Wimberly (2) runs with the ball during the second half of the game against West Virginia Mountaineers at Milan Puskar Stadium. The Iowa State Cyclones defeated West Virginia Mountaineers 52-44 in the third overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State football preview 2014: Looking at the running backs

The Cyclones have had a relatively turbulent offseason with players being dismissed or coming back at various times. A lot has been made, and rightfully so, of the dynamics on the defensive line. Quarterback is also a position of much speculation because of injuries that plagued Sam Richardson and forced Grant Rohach into play.

Running back should still be a spot to watch in Mark Mangino’s new offense.  Keep in mind that at this point, there is still a lot of speculation surrounding the team’s potential, and don’t forget that this position was also a bit of a disappointment last season.

Players to watch: Last year’s leading rusher, Aaron Wimberly, is still around and should benefit from a more wide-open style under new coaching.  Backing him up should be DeVondrick Nealy, who finished fourth on last year’s team in rushing (behind Shontrelle Johnson and Richardson), but still gave 158 yards at 3.9 ypc.  Rounding out the group are Rob Standard and Tyler Brown, a special teams-based junior and a redshirt freshman, respectively.

The biggest question is how this quartet will benefit from Mangino’s leadership.  More emphasis will be put on the passing game as offenses around the Big 12 move towards the popular spread, but this shift should hopefully mean more running lanes for Wimberly and the rest.

Projection: Goal-line punch may be a small issue without last year’s bull, Jeff Woody. The idea would be better lanes equals longer runs for our backs, which would negate the trouble of goal-line offense.  This is a spot I want to watch closely as the offense solidifies over the summer months.

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