ISU players hunger for 2014 football season

Alex Gookin

Despite a 3-9 record in Paul Rhoads’ fifth season as head coach, ISU fans showed up for football games in record numbers for the third consecutive season. Season tickets sold out for the first time in school history, and three games sold out completely as Jack Trice Stadium averaged 55,361 fans per game.

Rhoads’ fan appeal has been well-documented in his time at Iowa State and is expected to continue headed into the 2014 season and beyond. After setting record attendance marks with underwhelming results, Rhoads made some offseason coaching changes to manage an offense that finished ninth in the Big 12 and 91st nationally in scoring offense. 

In January, Rhoads announced the hiring of former Kansas head coach Mark Mangino as offensive coordinator. Mangino served as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma during its 2000 national championship season and was named National Coach of the Year in 2007 for leading Kansas to an Orange Bowl championship.

The coaching staff experienced more changes as other coaches left the program and defensive ends coach Curtis Bray tragically passed away at the age of 43. In total, six new coaches were hired and seven positions will be under new direction this season with the entire offense experiencing coaching changes.

Despite drastic changes in coaching leadership, nearly the entire offense returns from last season’s squad. Hit hard by injury, the now experienced offensive line expects to be at full health at the start of the 2014 season.

The offense will be led by one of two returning starters at quarterback, redshirt sophomore Grant Rohach or redshirt junior Sam Richardson. With what is expected to be the most talented wide receiving corps in years and a capable backfield, the Cyclones are hoping to compete in one of the highest scoring leagues in the nation.

The defense will look much different than even the start of spring football, as starting defensive linemen Rodney Coe and David Irving were released from the football team for breaking team rules. However, defensive lineman Brandon Jensen announced his return to the team in April and the Cyclones return multiple key pieces to their 2013 team.

With 16 returning starters, Iowa State will be one of the most experienced teams in the Big 12 in 2014. With more than 55,000 fans expected to return to Jack Trice Stadium to watch the Cyclones on Saturdays, Iowa State is hoping to give fans something to cheer about in 2014.

“The immediate impression that the offensive players gave [Mangino] was how hungry and anticipatory they were for the beginning of the 2014 season,” Rhoads said at the beginning of spring practices. “I think this team is very hungry and excited about getting on the field.”