T Doug Dedrick, WR R.J. Sumrall, DE Kurtis Taylor, CB Chris Singleton, S Brandon Hunley
2008 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Alexander Robinson* (703 yards) Passing: Austen Arnaud* (2,792 yards) Receiving: R.J. Sumrall (750 yards) Tackles: James Smith* (85) Sacks: Christopher Lyle*, Kurtis Taylor (5) Interceptions: Fred Garrin*, Michael Bibbs, Leonard Johnson* (2)
Sept. 3 North Dakota State Sept. 12 Iowa Sept. 19 at Kent State Sept. 26 Army Oct. 3 Kansas State (at Kansas City) Oct. 10 at Kansas Oct. 17 Baylor Oct. 24 at Nebraska Oct. 31 at Texas A&M Nov. 7 Oklahoma State Nov. 14 Colorado Nov. 21 at Missouri
1. Austen Arnaud: It's not a bad building block for new coach Paul Rhoads to have the record-setting quarterback in Iowa State for the next two seasons. Arnaud had some growing pains in new coordinator Tom Herman's high-tempo spread offense and struggled at times in the spring game, but should be a productive weapon after working on the concepts this summer. And he'll have backup Jerome Tiller pushing him, especially after Tiller passed for 210 yards and added a 65-yard TD run in the spring game.
2. Alexander Robinson: No player will flourish in Herman's new offense more than Robinson, whose running and receiving abilities are perfectly suited for the change in thinking in Ames. It wouldn't be a stretch to think he could contribute 1,500 yards rushing and receiving if he can stay healthy in 2009. He even lined up as the quarterback in a "Wildcat" formation in the spring game, giving rival coordinators something else to worry about.
3. Enthusiasm: Rhoads grew up in nearby Ankeny, Iowa, and helped orchestrate an earlier turnaround when he served as defensive coordinator on Dan McCarney's first bowl team. So he understands what will need to be accomplished to help boost the Cyclones back into Big 12 respectability.
1. Defensive speed: Rhoads was very frank about his team's lack of athleticism during the spring. Better recruiting and development will boost production in the new coach's particular area of expertise, but it won't come overnight. Trust me. And it will be particularly difficult with all of the talented offenses the Cyclones will consistently face in the Big 12.
2. Pass rush: Rhoads is trying to transform his defensive front from a gap-control unit to a group that attacks opposing defenses. It sounds fun for the defenders, but there will still be a transformation for the group that ranked 95th in rush defense, 116th in pass defense, 112th in total defense and 110th in scoring defense.
3. Help in the secondary: The Cyclones were repeatedly blistered in the Big 12, allowing 19 touchdown passes in their final five games. Top defender Leonard Johnson suffered a knee injury in the spring game, but should be ready for practice in August. The unit contributed three interceptions in the spring game, but will that translate into better play once the regular season begins?
Jake Trotter joined ESPN.com in 2011 after four years with The Oklahoman covering OU football. Before that, he worked at the Austin American-Statesman and Middletown (Ohio) Journal. He's a graduate of Washington and Lee (Va.) University and lives in Oklahoma City with his wife.
Brandon Chatmon joined ESPN.com in August 2011 after seven years at the Oklahoman covering Oklahoma State University, high schools and recruiting. An avid college football, NFL and NBA fan, Chatmon resides in Norman, Okla.