Iowa State football: Are this season’s Cyclones destined to repeat history?


EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a post from Carmon Wilson, an Iowa State women’s basketball reporter. His work has been featured at and we are excited to announce that he will be a contributor to Clones Confidential. Follow him on Twitter.

The historical paradox of Iowa State athletics seems to run in cycles, and this year’s 2014 Cyclones is no different. Exactly a decade ago, the Iowa State 2004 squad was coming off a disappointing 2-10 season the prior year. That 2003 team was led by number strong senior captains who had come up through the program through years of success in Jordan Carstens, Lane Danielson, Joe Woodley and others.

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Heading into the 2003 season, the Cyclones had a quarterback competition heading into fall camp, where freshmen Austin Flynn eventually won the starting job over veterans Chris Love and JUCO transfer Waye Terry. The team finished the season on a ten game losing streak by an average of 29.9 points while only scoring an average of 14.4 points per game.

Due to an inexperienced offensive line (as well as starting true freshmen Aaron Brant), the pocket collapsed more time than not and Flynn was forced to scramble for his life, suffering a string of nagging injuries. Following the season, head coach Dan McCarney made some major changes to his coaching staff by replacing both offensive coordinator Steve Brickey and offensive line coach Marty Fine.

The 2013 Cyclones appeared snake bitten from the beginning. The offensive line could never remain healthy, and the musical chairs in the trenches caused both quarterbacks Sam Richardson and Grant Roach to rush throws and take off and run as the pocket collapsed. Richardson too got hurt by and array of injuries and didn’t play the last few games of the season, opening the door for a quarterback competition heading into the 2014 fall camp.

Nov 23, 2013; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones defender Jeremiah George (52) chases Kansas Jayhawks quarterback Montell Cozart (2) in the second quarter at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, Iowa State’s defense gave up an average of 32.6 points per game behind senior leadership in Jeremiah George and Jacques Washington. Following the season, coach Rhoads replaced both offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham and offensive line coach Chris Klenakis.

Heading into the 2004 campaign, the Cyclones had another quarterback competition between Flynn and incoming freshmen Bret Meyer from Atlantic, Iowa. Also that season, a 6-foot-5 freshmen receiver made his way to the starting lineup in Todd Blythe. The team began the season facing a strong FCS opponent in Northern Iowa who finished the prior season 10-3 and lost in the quarterfinal round in the FCS tournament.

Expectations were high coming out of Cedar Falls that fall, while fans were hoping the Cyclones could rebuild off a disappointing season the year before. With another team with young talent, expectations weren’t that high in Ames heading into the 2004 season.

The 2014 Cyclones will begin the season against three-time FCS national champion North Dakota State this Saturday. Those who were there a decade ago cannot argue similar aspects from the 2003 and 2013 seasons. Expectations aren’t very high this fall for most Iowa State fans, rather another step toward rebuilding the program back to bowl contention and hopes for a 6-6 record.

On Saturday, September 3rd, 2004, Iowa State dominated Northern Iowa during the opening game of the season 24-0. Meyer passed for 1,926 yards hitting 51.4 percent of his throws and threw of 10 touchdowns on the season. Blythe went on to have the second most catches on the team with 39, including a team leading 9 touchdowns and average more than 21.4 yards per catch.

The defense stepped up and gave up 11 fewer points than the year before (21.5) while the offense averaged almost a full touchdown more a game (20.5) and went on to tie for the Big 12 North Championship with a 6-5 record and won the Independence Bowl.

The 2014 Cyclones hired offensive guru Mark Mangino to help bolster the Cyclone offense. They too will have a freshman in Allen Lazard play quality minutes at receiver this fall and should be much improved overall on offense due to the experience, now healthy offensive line, and array of weapons for quarterback Sam Richardson to choose.

And as Cyclone fans arrive in numbers this Saturday to begin a season anew tailgating in excitement for the upcoming season, we can only hope that just like 2004, this Cyclone squad can bounce back and start one hell of a wind storm for their opponents this fall and compete for a championship.

With history running in parallels, one cannot deny the comparison to the team fielded a decade ago.