Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Iowa State.
Spring Practice Starts: Tuesday, March 20
Spring Game: Saturday, April 14
Returning Starters: Seven on offense, five on defense, one specialist
Three Things To Watch For:
1. The quarterback battle. Steele Jantz came into 2011 as Iowa State's starter, but he lost his job to Jared Barnett during the season. When Barnett helped lead Iowa State past Oklahoma State in one of the biggest upsets of the season, it seemed the job was his for good. Unfortunately for Barnett, after struggling in Iowa State's Pinstripe Bowl loss, he was replaced by Jantz, which meant Iowa State went into the offseason without a clear starting quarterback. Will that change once camp opens? Considering Jantz is a juco transfer and Barnett will be just a sophomore in 2012, you have to think Barnett carries the slight advantage since he's the quarterback of the future, but if he struggles this spring then Paul Rhoads may be inclined to go with Jantz as the Cyclones look to improve on a 6-7 record.
2. Who will protect the quarterback? Kelechi Osemele is a very big man, and he was a very nice left tackle for Iowa State the last three seasons. Unfortunately for the Cyclones, the next snap Osemele takes will be in the NFL, and Iowa State needs to find a replacement. Carter Bykowski was behind Osemele on the depth chart last season, but it remains to be seen whether or not the converted tight end will start this season. He certainly has the size to do so, but he may be pushed by Jacob Gannon in practice this spring.
3. New faces on defense. Only five starters from the 2011 Iowa State defense return this year, but the good news for Iowa State is that both human tackling machines, A.J. Klein and Jake Knott, return for their senior seasons. That being said, the Cyclones have a number of starters to replace on the defensive line and secondary, two sports that are rather important in the pass-happy Big 12, and the competition for those spots begin this week.
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