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  1. #1
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    The Shape of Things to Come

    I have been thinking about this for a while, and with a thread about whether we have the money to horseshoe the South End Zone, thought that I'd take a look at the State of the Program, and just how fast Gene Chizik is making it well. Of course, this is premature, because we'll find out a great deal more even in Spring Practice, but with a few minutes, why the heck not?

    My first comment is one that some people simply aren't going to like. Say what you want about Dan McCarney, but he was fired, really, for two flaws in his program, and those two reasons only. Had he remedied either of these several years ago, he would still be our coach--and people would be happy with him.

    The first issue was the offensive line. Yes, I know that he hired Marty Fine, but the roots of the problem arose before that. After all, Mac became accustomed to putting odds and ends together in a patchwork line, and having it work. Todd Bandhauer was a statue, and still rarely sacked. Backs ran for thousands of yards. So Mac got it into his head that he didn't need to spend a lot of time recruiting offensive linemen, throw some bits and pieces together, and they would be fine. No pun intended.

    The second, and perhaps directly attributable cause to his downfall, was the kicking game. In this case, it wasn't entirely Mac's fault. Tony Yelk never quite had the confidence of a front-line kicker (and that kick against Alabama was good--and would have made a great deal of difference). I should also note that before Yelk was signed, Nate Kaeding had (briefly) committed. So Mac signed Josh Griebahn. Who promptly got hurt and barely contributed, even as a senior. So Mac signed Chris Mahoski. Who promptly got hurt...and this round robin left the kicking game in the hands of Shaggy, a fairly mediocre placekicker who could at least make PAT's. He was good only in comparison to the morass that he emerged from. Yes, anyone can count the games that the lack of a placekicker directly cost us. With several of those turned to "W", Mac would still be our coach--and the program likely wouldn't have stagnated.

    I'll also toss in another factor--one that no one has ever talked about. The early recruiting results suggest that Chizik is not under the annual quota of Iowa kids that Mac was horse-collared with. Thank goodness for huge favors.

    Which leaves us where GC has us. For the latter problem (kicker), Chizik is obviously taking no chances, and dedicating two scholarships to placekickers. I have absolutely no problem with that. I really cannot see both of them getting hurt.

    Mac's second Achille's Heel was the offensive line--which he had taken steps to remedy. There wasn't a player on the '07 unit who wasn't one of his recruits. Yet Chizik went a step further, and actually signed several decent offensive line prospects, high school and JUCO, in his first class. I believe that we will be seeing the impact of them shortly. Chizik seems to not only have the goal of a competent line, but a dominant offensive line. And this year's signing of Adrin Haughton is another big step in that direction--if he makes it onto campus.

    The other areas of the team are similarly impacted. Mac turned odds and ends into wide receivers--well, walkons, basketball players...and Todd Blythe. Yet already we have a signee in Sed Johnson who seems light years ahead of where Blythe was at the same stage--a far better athlete. And Johnson, Range and Carlson are likely better than any group of wide receivers that Mac signed.

    Let's go on to tight end, where Mike Banks was likely the top of the heap--though Catlett is close. Banks played a long time ago. Collin Franklin might already be a better receiver and tight end, and that doesn't consider Chase Harper, who could be special--if he makes grades.

    Mac had some good backs, but remember that TD was a gift from his predecessor. Much as A-Rob is for Chizik. But Bo Williams looks better than anyone else that Mac signed throughout his tenure.

    Quarterback is more iffy, after all, both Arnaud and Bates were Mac's recruits--and probably have more talent than any other two quarterbacks on the team at any given time during Mac's tenure. But Jerome Tiller is in the same mold, making the position surprisingly deep and talented.

    The defense is more of a question mark, because Mac worked hard over his last few years to make it a competent group. The young linebackers are unproven, and I can only hope that their speed makes them the equals of their immediate predecessors. There could really be some talent there amongst Bell, Mathis, Mathews and company.

    The defensive backfield is equally iffy (as far as an upgrade), because when Mac had Ellis and Deandre at the corners, I don't think I've seen better coverage, even from the early eighties group under Duncan. But Mac hadn't had great safeties in a while, so I'm thinking that guys like corner Allen Bell and safety Dustin Land will eventually be an upgrade. Yes, I like Leonard Johnson and Ter'Ran Benton, I'm just not certain that they are better than some of the corners that Mac signed in his last few years. Still, with Banks and Linder, I think we'll see some real quality depth at corner.

    The defensive line is also iffy, partly because the position was decimated with injuries and attrition. Taylor should at least be competent, but Parker hasn't yet been a Jason Berryman on the field. Which is exactly what this team needs. I think that Jerrod Black will be an anchor at nose tackle, but Chizik's guys like Ruempolhamer, Laing and Maggitt are yet mysteries, while Lyle, Wier and Tate are still to be heard from. I think those three will have a great deal to offer this fall.

    So I guess that what I'm saying is that the defense should continue to be at least as good as Mac left it his past several years (minus '06). Mix in a better offensive line and kicking game, offering better field position and less time on the field keeps the troops rested. However, the big immediate difference I think is going to come on offense. Whoever pans out at quarterback will have better receivers and tight ends to throw to, and a much better offensive line clearing huge holes for better running backs. Not to mention that old sore spot of pass protection--also vastly upgraded.

    So as far as selling tickets--heck, I'm thinking that an explosive offense, with lots of explosive talent returning, will be selling loads of season tickets as early as '09--if not before. Anyone else ready for Spring?



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    Re: The Shape of Things to Come

    I basically agree with you, but have a little different take.

    I think that the issues with the program can be traced back to losing two very good assistant coaches, Pete Hoener and then Steve Loney for the second time.

    ISU FB has a very thin margin for error. When Hoener left, we did OK bringing back Loney. Our offense still featured a good running attack and some good misdirection.

    When Loney left the second time, unfortunately, Mac whiffed on the hiring of Marty Fine. We just didn't realize how bad the situation on the OL was getting because it was covered up by a superstar QB named Seneca. Mac was too loyal to see that Fine was slowly killing us.

    However, once Seneca left, our OL woes were exposed and Austin spent his freshman year in full scramble mode. Fine and Cotton never got the OL and offensive attack back on track, and Mac had to pay the price. Even though Fine was already gone, the long-term damage was done.

    We finally have hope back with McFarland. I think he is going to do great things with our OL recruiting, training, and technique.



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    Re: The Shape of Things to Come

    Great job posters! I agree very strongly with what you've both said.

    Mac complained a bit about not having the budget to pay assistants top dollar. And I agree he was way too loyal to some of his assistants...or maybe not good enough of really objectively evaluating the job they were doing. Given the situation, Mac had little room for error in hiring and keeping key talent on his coaching staff. As things played out, the decisions he made were eventually why Jamie decided to pull the plug.

    I also think that ISU has been hurting for any kind of vision from the AD. Gene Smith only wanted marginal improvement so he could pad his resume for hopping to the next job. BVD didn't know how to make even the smallest of decisions that had any forward looking thought. It's no coincidence that we set a record for season ticket sales even though the team wasn't expected to compete for the North crown. In addition to the excitement for a new head FB coach, Jamie's push to develop the 'master plan' for facility improvements has given Cyclone fans something to hold on to and hope for.

    I hope that we can continue to meet our athletics department halfway. We've got a guy who isn't afraid to make the tough decisions as the AD, and a good stable of coaches to work on their end. I only hope that the fanbase continues to support the changes needed to keep ISU competitive.



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    Re: The Shape of Things to Come

    Nice thread with informed and well thought out posts...Nice job!


    The grass always looks greener, on the other side of the fence, but the dog over there might be meaner, on the other side of the fence… Stay in your own yard, play in your own yard!

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    Re: The Shape of Things to Come

    I agree for the most part, but I still have a very hard time saying that all these guys are going to be the best every to dawn an ISU jersey before they even step on the field. I would agree that there is a ton of potential, but we have had teams with tons of potential before.

    I would say that I was more optimistic with the young talent coming back after Meyer's frosh year just a few years back. Meyer was going to be the second coming of Seneca, Blythe was poised to break every receiving record in the book, and Stevie Hicks was poised for a huge season. Well, that came crashing to reality once the season started, and the rest is history.

    So really, my only point here is not to count your eggs before they hatch. First we need all these guys to make it to campus in the fall, then we need them to live up to the potential that is there. Until that happens, I will hold off judgement on the quality of talent being brought into Ames.



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    Re: The Shape of Things to Come

    Although Mac was not a good recruiter, Chizik is just as bad, if not worse. Just look at this class he put together for next year. It's pretty lousy. I'm not too high on this new Chizik guy. We need to bring in someone who can recruit. Chizik stated "it's not about getting the best players, it's about getting the right players" in my opinion is just his excuse for not being able to recruit. Just look at what he did with Jamicah Bass. He recruited him, a huge running back out of JUCO, and was expected to contribute right away. And who winds up being the starting running back at the end of the year? Not him. This guy needs to get his act together and pull in a great class next year, otherwise Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and now Mizzou and Kansas are going to stomp us every single year.



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    Re: The Shape of Things to Come

    Quote Originally Posted by Awesome Rick View Post
    Although Mac was not a good recruiter, Chizik is just as bad, if not worse. Just look at this class he put together for next year. It's pretty lousy. I'm not too high on this new Chizik guy. We need to bring in someone who can recruit. Chizik stated "it's not about getting the best players, it's about getting the right players" in my opinion is just his excuse for not being able to recruit. Just look at what he did with Jamicah Bass. He recruited him, a huge running back out of JUCO, and was expected to contribute right away. And who winds up being the starting running back at the end of the year? Not him. This guy needs to get his act together and pull in a great class next year, otherwise Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and now Mizzou and Kansas are going to stomp us every single year.
    Hey AR
    I really hope you are a parody of something...what I am not sure but I certainly hope you jest.

    j


    As far as depth goes though, the combination of White, Woodbury, Olaseni, Basabe, and Uthoff is much better than Niang, Ejim, Edozie, Gibson. Not because of the top 2, but because of the next 2 or 3. -DeanVogs

  8. #8
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    Re: The Shape of Things to Come

    Quote Originally Posted by jmb View Post
    Hey AR
    I really hope you are a parody of something...what I am not sure but I certainly hope you jest.

    j


    Ric Flair?

    I think the overall recruiting has been more thought out and coordinated with purpose in the last two years.


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    Re: The Shape of Things to Come

    The right players are important, more so than the most talented. Look at Kansas (I can't believe I am complimenting KU. I hate them two fold as a Mizzou and ISU fan). There classes were not full of "big" recruits. Getting players with the right mentality and work ethic as a team will produce a very good solid product for us to watch. You have to get to that point before you can catch the "big fish". It will come down to the coaching these players get and I feel like the surge at the end of last season proves that these guys can coach.

    Also I agree about the loss of the assistants, specifically Loney. We all know that Fine was a dud as a coach but I don't think people realize how really outstanding the people he followed were.


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    Re: The Shape of Things to Come

    Quote Originally Posted by Awesome Rick View Post
    Although Mac was not a good recruiter, Chizik is just as bad, if not worse. Just look at this class he put together for next year. It's pretty lousy. I'm not too high on this new Chizik guy. We need to bring in someone who can recruit. Chizik stated "it's not about getting the best players, it's about getting the right players" in my opinion is just his excuse for not being able to recruit. Just look at what he did with Jamicah Bass. He recruited him, a huge running back out of JUCO, and was expected to contribute right away. And who winds up being the starting running back at the end of the year? Not him. This guy needs to get his act together and pull in a great class next year, otherwise Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and now Mizzou and Kansas are going to stomp us every single year.
    I'm sure Jamicah's shoulder injury that lasted from the Toledo game until the end of the season had absolutely nothing to do with his performance. Or that the coaches gave A-Rob a second chance and he took full advantage of it, showing us what he can really do when the ball is in his hands. He could've gone straight downhill after his fumbles and mistakes the first few games, but he sat on the bench and/or received minimal minutes during the middle of the season and soaked up everything he could from the coaches and came out blazing at the end of the year. I'm excited about the 1a-1b combo of A-Rob and Bass in 2008.

    Getting the "right guys" is very important in the first couple years with a program. The most highly touted guys rarely want to attend a school that was 3-9 the previous year. Those guys don't want to be part of a rebuilding process, be part of turning a program around. They want the instant success. They want the ME success. Chizik is recruiting guys who want TEAM success. His players respect him as a man and as a coach, and his recruits feel connected to the staff and the vision they have for this team. Chizik is a young coach, who in his first job as a Head Coach kept a team from going 1-11, established a new enthusiasm in his players, but will surely have a few "rookie" mistakes throughout the first year or two. There's a learning curve involved in being a Head Coach--there's a reason GA's don't go straight to Head Coaches and why Assistant Coaches don't instantly become Bobby Bowdens during their first Head Coaching stints. It'll take time. Be patient. But so far, I believe Chizik is the best man for the ISU job and has us going in the right direction.



  11. #11
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    Re: The Shape of Things to Come

    the 2005 defense was amazing. It was Steve Paris. Nik moser. Deandre Jackson. Lamarcus hicks. Nick leaders. Brent curvey. Jason berryman. Tim dobbins. Matt Robertson. And a young alvin bowen. That defense was so fun to watch. It seemed like they always made the big play. That defense was so fun to watch. Anybody remember the 2005 Colorado game. All the tornadoe delays. And interception I will never forget by brent curvey. And the fumble returned by Steve Paris. Until we get a good defense like that again we will continue to not have very good success. But I think chizik already has some guys who are going to be real super stars. I'm so excited for football this year its not even funny.



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    Re: The Shape of Things to Come

    Quote Originally Posted by Awesome Rick View Post
    Although Mac was not a good recruiter, Chizik is just as bad, if not worse. Just look at this class he put together for next year. It's pretty lousy. I'm not too high on this new Chizik guy. We need to bring in someone who can recruit. Chizik stated "it's not about getting the best players, it's about getting the right players" in my opinion is just his excuse for not being able to recruit. Just look at what he did with Jamicah Bass. He recruited him, a huge running back out of JUCO, and was expected to contribute right away. And who winds up being the starting running back at the end of the year? Not him. This guy needs to get his act together and pull in a great class next year, otherwise Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and now Mizzou and Kansas are going to stomp us every single year.
    I think its safe to say that chizik knows a little more about football than you otherwise you would be the Head coach. Chizik actually has a descent recruiting class. It would be hard to get guys to come to a team who was 3 and whatever. But chizik is getting his guys and I trust he will turn this team around soon. And bass got hurt. That's not chizik fault that bass got hurt.



  13. #13
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    Re: The Shape of Things to Come

    Hey AR, Bass had a shoulder injury. I will agree Bass is awesome, but with an injury you do not play to your ability.



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    Re: The Shape of Things to Come

    Quote Originally Posted by cyclonedefender View Post
    I'm so excited for football this year its not even funny.
    I am actually scaring my non-Iowa State fans on a near daily basis on that factor. I think my Panther friends are so perplexed how someone can be SO pumped for a football team that went 3-9 overall last year. When they don't even have people as pumped for UNI when they only had one loss this whole past year. I think they envy my and every Cyclone's fanhood a little bit. I am no Cubs fan, but something about the Cyclones keep us kinda the same way, just always coming back for more no matter what the previous outcome.


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    Re: The Shape of Things to Come

    I am excited to see The nice combo this year with A-Rob and Bass and the new comers. overall the team should be more well rounded. Cyclonedefender I agree with you on your defense post!! We fans and team will see that again with Chizik at the controls.



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