Head coach Paul Rhodes has done a good job in making the best out of what he’s had since he took over for the Iowa State Cyclones in 2009. Rhodes has been to three bowl games in four seasons and has made slow but steady progress since he stepped foot on campus. One of the biggest problems that the Cyclones have faced during his tenure is finding a way to score consistently. In a league where just about every team has great offensive playmakers all over the field, Iowa State has been the odd man out and has struggled on the offensive side of the ball.
If the Cyclones want to make another bowl game in a rebuilding year, someone on the offensive side of the ball will really need to step up and become a playmaker. There are a few offensive players on the Cyclones 2013 roster that have the ability to become real difference makers this season, and it starts with senior running back James White. White is a small but fast running back out of Dallas, Texas, and he had a disappointing season last year. He rushed for only 505 yards and two touchdowns on 99 carries and was hurt for two of the 13 games last year. White will get the majority of rushes this season and will really need to improve his numbers in 2013 to help the Cyclones offense. He certainly has the skill set and athleticism to do so.
Next up is sophomore quarterback Sam Richardson. With the departure of former quarterbacks Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett, Richardson will have to guide the Cyclones to wins himself this fall. Richardson got to play the final three games of the season last year and showed positive signs with eight passing touchdowns, one interception and one rushing touchdown in those three games. If Richardson can keep that momentum going, the Cyclones could have a bright season ahead of them.
Finally, junior speedster Jarvis West will need to be a primary target for Richardson this fall after showing good signs as a slot receiver last year as a sophomore. West had 290 receiving yards and three touchdowns on just 31 receptions. If the Cyclones can get the ball to West in space, he could be a game-changer for them in 2013.
The Cyclones have had a solid defense since Rhodes took over as head coach, but their offensive style will need to improve this year if they are to make a bowl run. These three players are the ones that will have to step up and make offensive strides in 2013.