By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com Publisher
The tone coming out of Iowa State’s second scrimmage of the 2010 camp could not have been more different compared to the first.
Last Saturday, to the surprise of many, it was clear that the defense won. That certainly wasn’t the case on Wednesday afternoon.
“If you judge today, we didn’t progress any,” said Iowa State defensive coordinator Wally Burnham. “I am sure that some individuals did but as a defensive football team today, I am really disappointed. It was the worst day that we’ve had I thought.”
“We just didn’t have the intensity that it takes to play good football. It showed. We have got to get going again.”
Burnham did give credit where it was due. The defense did struggle. But Iowa State’s experienced and potentially explosive offense bounced back from Saturday’s disappointment in a big way.
“The receivers did a great job today,” Burnham said. “They ran the ball pretty good at times against us. I think they outplayed us, no doubt today.
Offensive coordinator Tom Herman agreed. Dropped passes and a lack of focus plagued Iowa State’s offense on Saturday. All was well in scrimmage number two, especially concerning the passing game.
“It was much better,” Herman said. “I think that we have a chance to be pretty good when we can catch the ball and don’t turn it over. We did two of those things today. I think that we still probably had a few drops out there but not one after another. We sustained drives today too, which was encouraging. We have a chance to be really good when we do those things but we have to do those things in order for us to succeed. We are certainly not good enough to overcome ourselves. Today, we didn’t fight ourselves.”
ISU quarterbacks have been “sharp”
Why should you be confident in Iowa State’s offense heading into 2010? This quote should tell you everything that you need to know regarding quarterbacks Austen Arnaud and Jerome Tiller.
“We are light years ahead of where we were at that position last year,” Herman said about the play of his quarterbacks.
“The completion percentage wouldn’t say so but we track accuracy percentage. Both of them were right around 70 percent if my numbers are right. I think they have done a fantastic job of fine-tuning their mechanics and being more accurate and understand where to go and when to go with the football. We still have plenty of room for improvement.”
Standouts from Wednesday
One darkhorse for a big season in Ames is junior receiver Sedrick Johnson. A high ankle injury hindered him throughout much of 2009. His leg is now 100 percent and so is his mind.
“He has grown up. I think he is taking his job very seriously. He has studied tape. He is definitely maturing,” Herman said
“Sedrick Johnson had a really good scrimmage. He has continued to improve. If we can get him playing at a consistent level all of the time, he can be really good.”
Battle to back up A-Rob
If you’re like me, you were hoping for an update on Iowa State’s race to be the second string running back after Wednesday’s scrimmage. That information wasn’t made clear to us after the contest but that’s probably a good thing. It is a positive because the competition is still so thick as Jeff Woody, Shontrelle Johnson, Duran Hollis, James White and Beau Blankenship continue to duke it out.
“There is still some tremendous competition at that position and those two incoming guys (Johnson & Hollis), the more they learn the better they get,” Herman said. “Jeff Woody still plays a valuable role in what he does and what he can do for this offense.”
Herman fully admitted that he didn’t plan on seeing this much depth and competition at running back this early into camp.
“I think ‘pleasantly surprised’ is okay to say. We recruited both of those young guys and Beau Blankenship and James White because we knew that they had talent. When that talent was going to bubble up to the surface, we weren’t quite sure.”
Next comes the obvious question. Will Johnson, Hollis or both backs redshirt the 2010 season? Herman said that both backs have the ability to play right away. No decision has been made yet though. There is more to this situation than what the casual fan thinks about.
“That is a decision that Coach Rhoads, the offensive staff and us as a whole staff will have to make in terms of separating classes,” Herman said. “I think that you would like some separation in classes and be able to redshirt one of those guys, especially knowing that we are deep enough with other running backs where you feel like you need to play both of them. We will see where that goes.”
In other words, while both are good enough to play as a true freshman, they probably won’t.