Insider Opponent Look: Iowa State

Hawkeye Insider's Josh Harvey attended the Big 12 media days in Dallas this week. He caught up with Iowa opponent and intrastate rival Iowa State and files this report.

Irving, Texas – Big 10 media days might not be for another week, but it hasn't stopped from getting into press conference mode. On Monday, we hit up Big 12 media days to hear how Iowa rival and opponent Iowa State feels about their upcoming season.

"We're excited about our growth inside our football program in just a short amount of time," said Head coach Paul Rhodes. "We've seen a lot of development in the last 18, 19 months. Bowl game preparation, all the extra work we got in, our winter workouts, spring practice. And that's continued on into the summer workout session. With that in mind, we will be an improved football team in 2010, and we'll need to be."

After a surprise 7 win season with a bowl win, Rhodes might have a tough time seeing much improvement in 2010. The Cyclones were overachievers last year and have a less than favorable schedule in 2010, with trips to Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado. Also gone is Baylor, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma State from their south schedule. The defense struggled last season and will have to replace some key personnel from that squad.

"We lack experience, but I think we make up with desire and hunger, and we'll have to if we're going to improve week to week, which we need to on that side of the ball," Rhodes said.

In a 35-3 whipping by the hands of Iowa last season, junior quarterback Austen Arnaud was abysmal. On 22 attempts, he only threw for 79 yards and four interceptions. It caused many Cyclone fans to call for him to take a seat. But, Rhodes stuck with his experience at the signal-caller position and Arnaud finished the year with over 2,000 yards passing with 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Now a senior, Arnaud has changed his throwing motion and been trying to become a film junkie.

"I think Austen emerged through spring ball as our most improved player on our team," said Rhodes. "He needed to improve fundamentally on his mechanics at being a . He did that this spring. I think he has a excellent grasp of our offense, which will improve his decision making when he takes the field."'s Josh Harvey's take: It's hard to believe that Iowa State will be heading back to a bowl game this season. Week one at home against Northern Illinois should produce a win, but its then games in Iowa City and Kansas City to take on Kansas State. With a game against Northern Iowa in week four, at best Iowa State can hope for a 2-2 record to start the season.

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