AMES — After hosting Northern Iowa and Iowa in the first two weeks of the season, Iowa State will have officially run out of Division-I scholarship teams from the state to play.
The Cyclones close out the non-conference portion of their schedule by hosting Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 21.
ULM went 6-6 last season and 4-4 in the Sun Belt Conference. The Warhawks played two Power Five teams last season in Texas A&M and Ole Miss. Texas A&M (9-4 in 2018) beat the Warhawks 48-10 and Ole Miss (5-7) won 70-21.
Louisiana-Monroe lost its most productive player, receiver Marcus Green, to graduation. Green was selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons.
Green set a school record with 5,286 career all-purpose yards. Last season, Green caught 50 passes for 855 yards and rushed the ball 20 times for 193 yards, He was also the Warhawks’ kick returner and part-time punt returner. He returned 19 kicks for 385 yards and five punts for 85 yards.
But Green is gone and now the Warhawks have to try to replace his impressive production.
Louisiana-Monroe does return senior quarterback Caleb Evans, who passed for 2,869 yards and 16 touchdowns last season, completing 62 percent of his passes. Evans was also the Warhawks’ second leading rusher last season, gaining 632 yards — not accounting for sacks, he gained 778 yards, which would have been most on the team. He also had a team-best 10 rushing touchdowns.
While the Warhawks lose Green’s immense production, they do return promising receivers in senior R.J. Turner, who caught 36 passes for 526 yards and one touchdown, and sophomore Zachari Jackson, whose production ramped up as the season progressed. Jackson snagged 11 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Warhawks lose their two leading tacklers in David Griffith, who recorded 92 tackles and 15.5 tackles for loss, and Collin Turner, who had 72 tackles.
They return senior linebacker Cortez Sisco, who tallied 53 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. He also had an interception, a fumble recovery and three pass breakups.
In the secondary, Louisiana-Monroe returns sophomore safety Jabari Johnson. As a freshman, Johnson finished with 51 tackles, an interception and two pass breakups. Fellow safety Austin Hawley also returns as a junior. He totaled 50 tackles and two pass breakups.
Way too early prediction: Iowa State shouldn’t have too many problems with Louisiana-Monroe. I think the Cyclones will actually have an easier time against the Warhawks than they will against UNI in the season-opener.
I had Iowa State beating UNI by at least 17, so I see Iowa State beating Louisiana-Monroe by at least 20.
At the end of non-conference portion of the schedule, I have Iowa State 3-0, but that’s not a confident 3-0. The Cyclones could easily lose to Iowa. But either way, 3-0 or 2-1, it’s a better start than 2018 (1-2). And either start should allow the Cyclones to feel confident going into Big 12 play against Baylor.
Iowa State football look ahead
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