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Iowa State Cyclones Look to Youth for Offensive Success

Iowa State Football Helmet
© Alex Blackburn/College Football Dawgs

The Iowa State Cyclones had a solid year last year, going 7-6 in a year where they had a ton of youth and inexperience on both sides of the ball. The offense, however, is where the Cyclones had their biggest strides throughout last year, particularly due to the play of their redshirt freshman quarterback Rocco Becht, the young group of receivers and the late breakout of running back Abu Sama III.

In 2024 and in the 50th season of Jack Trice Stadium, this offense looks to continue to build on its success and be a contender for the Big 12 Conference title.

Becht to Air It Out

Becht showed that he is poised to enter 2024 as perhaps the biggest up-and-coming quarterback in the conference, but he could not have done it without a great group of receivers.

Jaylin Noel and Jayden Higgins are one of the better receiver duos in the conference in 2023 and look to repeat that in 2024. In 2023 Noel and HIggins had 820 recieving yards and 7 touchdowns while HIggins added 983 yards and 6 touchdowns. Tight end Benjamin Brahmer caught 28 passes for 352 yards and 2 touchdowns as well, making for a strong receiving trio for the Cyclones.

What's a receiving trio though without someone to pass them the ball? As stated earlier, Becht had a stellar redshirt freshman season, throwing for more than 3,000 yards and 23 touchdowns. He brings a football knowledge that was passed down to him by his father, Anthony Becht, who was an NFL tight end and is currently the coach of the UFL St. Louis Battlehawks. Becht has developed nicely, as coach Matt Campbell put it at Big 12 Media Days:

"You look at the receiver position and what Higgins became through the entirety of last football season and by the end of the season, you're able to couple him with Noel and then you talk about the true freshman tight end Ben Brahmer, and then you put that around Becht and watched what he evolved into, and kind of forced into the starting position to by the midpoint of the season, you have a guy that has a chance to be really special."

Audio of Campbell's remarks can be accessed here.

This group has the cohesion and strength to be a very special group, but there is one other strength to this offense that may get a bit overlooked when talking about Iowa State.

Iowa State Ground Game: Full of Depth, Youth

The Iowa State ground game can be a bit overlooked when talking about its offense, which finished in the top 50 among all teams in overall passing offense with 245 yards passing per game. The numbers aren't too flashy, but when you look at the position group as a whole, Iowa State's run game has a lot of potential.

Starting off with their youth, their top three rushers from last year all return, with not a single one being above a three-year player coming into this season. Leading rusher Sama finished the year strong with a spectacular game against Big 12 powerhouse Kansas State, running for 276 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Eli Sanders and Cartevious Norton complemented Sama the whole way. Sanders rushed for 477 yards and 4 touchdowns while Norton rushed for 343 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Cyclones also have another promising sophomore back in Carson Hansen, who can expect a bigger workload this year as well.

Campbell sung the praises of this running back room during his media day press conference.

"I think when you look at our football program over the last eight years when we have been able to run the ball with great success, we have been a really dynamic football team," he said. "Our running back room in general, the growth of that room has excelled. They're really young, two true freshmen a year ago, we picked up a veteran in Jaylon Jackson. We think it's as talented, maybe, from top to bottom as we've had."

Speaking of Jackson, he brings four years of experience of playing with Eastern Michigan with him, rushing for 576 yards and 2 touchdowns this past year. That veteran leadership on top of the young group will pay major dividends in developing the Iowa State running back room.

Youth to Lead Cyclones

The Cyclones have every shot at competing for a Big 12 title this year and it is due to the development of the youth that is on this football team. Last year was a pleasant surprise for them, but they must build on it in order to have further success.

Matt Campbell

With the amount of firepower the Cyclones have offensively, they will be able to compete with the best of the Big 12, a conference well-known for its offenses, and with the youth they have at their disposal, expect this football team to hang around a while at the top or near it.

For more Iowa State and Big 12 news, be sure to tune into College Football Dawgs.


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