Weak & Strong: Iowa State

Here, we’ll take a look at one area where each team in the Big 12 can expect to succeed, and another that needs improvement.

Iowa State

Weak: Linebacker

All three starters from 2009 are gone. Josh Raven and Fred Garrin were seniors alongside the Big 12’s leading tackler, Jesse Smith. A.J. Klein and Jake Knott (40 combined tackles in 2009) could be solid replacements, but restoring the departed trio’s experience immediately will be difficult.

Strong: Running back

Senior running back Alexander Robinson might be the most underrated back in the conference. He quietly amassed 1,195 yards as a junior, good for third most in the Big 12. Robinson was a big reason the Cyclones took a big step forward in Year 1 of the Paul Rhoads era, closing the season with a bowl win over Minnesota to push their record to 7-6. Robinson never posted eye-popping numbers (his biggest output was 152 yards in a loss at Kansas), and sat out Iowa State’s benchmark victory in 2009, a 9-7 win over Nebraska in Lincoln.

But when he did play, he was consistent. He topped 100 yards five times, and dipped below 50 yards just once, and those 47 yards came in a loss to Kansas State when he touched the ball just four times after suffering an injury on a 37-yard run. Further progress in 2010 for the Cyclones will likely be a result of Robinson’s play.

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