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Thursday, May 6, 2010
Iowa State spring wrap

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

2009 overall record: 7-6

2009 conference record: 3-5

Returning starters: Offense (8), Defense (4) P/K (1)

Top returners: RB Alexander Robinson, QB Austen Arnaud, DB David Sims, DB Leonard Johnson, WR Darius Darks, WR Darius Reynolds

Key losses: OL Reggie Stephens, LB Jesse Smith, DB James Smith, LB Fred Garrin, DE Christopher Lyle, WR Marquis Hamilton

2009 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Alexander Robinson* (1,193 yards)

Passing: Austen Arnaud* (2,017 yards)

Receiving: Marquis Hamilton (606 yards)

Tackles: Jesse Smith (135)

Sacks: Christopher Lyle (5)

Interceptions: David Sims (5)

Three spring answers

1. All about the linebackers. Iowa State lost five linebackers to graduation from last year’s team. A.J. Klein, Jake Knott and juco transfer Matt Tau’fo’ou are the likely replacements. Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads says they’re still thinking and playing short of full speed, but their development pleased him in the spring.

2. Arnaud takes hold. Quarterback Austen Arnaud struggled for much of 2009, but Rhoads says the senior was the most improved player on the team in the spring. Sophomore Jerome Tiller played well enough in spot duty last season to push for playing time this season, but Arnaud’s performance in the spring likely postponed Tiller’s chances until next year.

3. Year Two. Last spring, Iowa State was on its third coach in four years. This year, the team has been able to more firmly grasp the concepts of Rhoads’ systems and try to build on the team’s 7-6 finish last season.

Three fall questions

1. Scheduled for a rough landing? Iowa State has one of the conference’s toughest schedules, and Rhoads believes his 2010 team could be better than last year’s and finish with a worse record. The Cyclones play Northern Illinois, Iowa and Utah in the non-conference, and have to play at Texas and Oklahoma in consecutive weeks later in the season.

2. Who’s catching the ball? The Cyclones lost Marquis Hamilton to graduation, and have a talented group of receivers, but how they’ll shake out remains to be seen. Darius Reynolds got off to a hot start in 2009, but a broken leg ended his season. Jake Williams, Darius Darks and Sedrick Johnson will also be options for Arnaud.

3. Sustainable defense? Iowa State ranked in the top half of the conference in scoring defense in 2009, but lost seven starters from the bowl-winning team. Iowa State could be improved in the passing game, but it won’t matter much if the defense can’t be at least almost as good as they were last season.