By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com Publisher
Happy Thursday fanatics. No need for a fancy introduction today. Let’s jump right into this week’s mailbag with a question from tamjam.
Tamjam writes: Chris, are you still on board with the ISU offense and their system this year? In your Des Moines Register chat last week, I noticed that you were very snippy with anyone calling out the coaching staff for not having a true spread QB. After the UNI game, are you still sold on Tiller being the future? I’m not.
CW: First of all, thanks for reading the chat. The UNI game completely depleted my confidence in this offense. That’s why I won’t pick Iowa State to beat Tech this weekend. I’ve seen three games in a row of pretty much the same thing. It doesn’t matter if it is Jerome Tiller or Austen Arnaud out there in my opinion. I do however think that in the Big 12, Arnaud gives you a better chance to win simply because he brings more of a passing threat to the table. He’s also more prone to turnover than Tiller is so there are your obvious pros and cons. I don’t know where you read that but I’ve never really thought that Tiller is the “quarterback of the future.” I think that he’ll have a heck of a battle with Jared Barnett to be the starter next year, but that kind of talk is very premature. James Capello will be in the mix too. I don’t want to forget about him.
Clones21 writes: Who’s the one player we need to have a breakout game against Texas Tech and why?
CW: I believe that Austen Arnaud will start at quarterback for Iowa State so I’ll go with him. He needs to play well not only for the Tech game, but to gain some confidence back from the fans, coaches and his teammates. Win or lose, an improved performance by Iowa State’s offense will make everyone feel much better going forward. Relying on this young defense to score touchdowns every game is living dangerously for Iowa State.
Abe2010 writes: What is the one think you are looking for from FH as a coach this year? (ie, good fundamentals from the players, knowing when to turn it over the assistants, good relations with the players…)
CW: IMPROVEMENT. I want to see this team get better every night out throughout the course of the season. If that happens, even if the team is losing games, the fans will still have a reason to go support the guys. I just want to see a competitive basketball team that has a shot to knock off the big boys when they roll into Hilton Coliseum. I want this team to be the epitome of old school Cyclone basketball. They need to have the mentality that NOBODY beats them inside of Hilton, regardless of the talent gap that may exist.
SuperCy writes: Is our fanbase overly sensitive? It seems like we take the smallest, perceived slight and try to make it a rallying cry. Or is it a small portion of the fanbase that gets their feelings easily hurt and they make more noise than the rest?
CW: I think that there is a portion of every fan base that fits what you described. With Iowa State fans though, I think the majority of it comes from being kicked around for decades as far as perception goes. I guess I would rather Iowa State fans be overly sensitive than not sensitive enough. Do you know what I mean? At least they care.
Joefrog writes: I am curious if we have many trick plays in our playbook? I remember at times under Danny McCarney that we would pull out some sweet ones, especially against Iowa. Why not try more misdirection or reverses with Money getting the ball? It just seems that outside of ARob we do a bad job of getting the ball in our playmakers hands. Let’s face it; our TE seems to be our biggest offensive threat.
CW: I agree on the comment about the tight end. Collin Franklin does seem like Iowa State’s most consistent offensive threat right now. At least he is when Austen Arnaud is playing quarterback. Tiller didn’t seem to target him much the other night. Still, keep in mind that Franklin is only averaging 38 receiving yards per game this season. If that is your leading receiver in a spread offense, you know you’re having some serious problems.
I too would like to see Darius Reynolds in the open field, basically because we’ve never seen what he can actually do. We’ve heard a lot though. Hopefully he’ll get an opportunity or two on Saturday night.
I’m not big on your trick plays analysis though Joe. I’d rather see the offense be able to move the ball doing what they do well. Right now, they aren’t doing much well. I think that consistently running the football is the way to go though. That should be Iowa State’s bread and butter. But with a passing game that barely has a pulse, every defense in the Big 12 will key on stopping Alexander Robinson, which makes things very tough.
Hey, you did see that fake field goal against UNI. Did that make you smile?
Knownothing writes: Why don’t I see a lot more players on the sidelines dressed out for the game. I looked for Donnie Jennert and some others. Do coaches only dress first and second team players now?
CW: I don’t know the answer to this but I would imagine that more than first and second-string players dress out for home games. I know that is how it used to be. But remember, I’m a mile high up in a press box. You probably have a better look at this than I do.
GeronimusClone writes: The Wildcat offense worked in one game in NFL history, why do teams still try to make it work?
CW: Here’s my take on it. In the NFL, coaches are constantly worried about losing their jobs right? Well, I believe it was the Dolphins who started that a few years ago when it actually worked. Well then, these coaches (who are the most paranoid people in the world) started freaking out. Their bosses started asking why they weren’t trying it and bam, here we are today, in an era where this Wildcat is the in-thing. Something else will probably come up in the next year or two that every coach and their dog will try.
Who is calling the plays in Minneapolis, the coaches or Favre? I know Childress isn’t a genius, far from it, but I can’t imagine any NFL coach calling all pass plays up 14 points with 8 minutes left and AP in your backfield.
CW: Just imagine if the Vikes would have actually gone after Michael Vick during the offseason. Think about your Wildcat with Vick and AP both back there. That would have been sick. I guess we can settle for the 67-year old man instead. You can’t imagine any coach doing that? Trust me, if there is any coach in football who would do something like that, it is Chilly.
CycoCyclone writes: When will ISU hire an assistant wrestling coach?
CW: I could act like I have some inside information on this right now but I would by lying. Thou shall not tell a lie. I have no clue. You’d think they’d need to get this done fairly soon though right?
Nuts4Cy writes: What are your thoughts on fans leaving early, rather than staying in there seats and supporting our team off the field?
CW: Like I talked about in our weekly CycloneFanatic.com podcast, I have a hard time telling fans how to act when I am sitting up in a comfortable press box drinking coffee. I guess I have more of a problem with people not being in their seats for kickoff than anything. That is such a crucial point in the game atmosphere wise. I think that is a bigger deal than fans leaving in the fourth quarter. Yeah, it sucks, but who am I to tell a fan he or she can’t leave early if they have to be at work at 6 a.m. the next day? In an ideal world, everybody would be in his or her seat 30 minutes prior to kickoff and not a soul would leave until the final gun. But that’s simply not realistic.
CloneState1028 writes: With all of the talent being assembled for men’s basketball, how excited are you for the 2011-12 season? And although it may be too early to begin discussing it, what are some realistic expectations for that team? NCAA Tournament and/or beyond?
CW: First of all, like everybody, I’m amped up for 2011. I don’t have a problem with that either. Yes, fans still need to support the 2010 Cyclones but it is unrealistic for people to not look ahead at what could be with the talent that’s been assembled for 2011. However, I urge you to walk with this program before it can run. We have no idea what could possibly go down on and off the floor between now and Nov. 2011. Injuries, transfers, legal problems, etc. Any of that stuff and more could happen. Try to enjoy 2010. The team might not win a ton of basketball games but let’s hope that they’ll be competitive and fun to watch.
RedBlooded writes: Hypothetical situation. Tell me what you think. If James Capello could step up and be starting QB (which would be awesome). Tiller and Arnaud as receivers would the offense be better or worse?
CW: No offense RedBlooded, but that is one of the most ridiculous questions I have ever been asked. I realize that this is a hypothetical situation but it is a MAJOR stretch. What in the world have you ever seen from James Capello to make you think he can play quarterback right now? He’s third string for a reason. And on top of that, how do we know that Austen and Jerome can even catch a football to play receiver? Why switch positions for everybody in the middle of the season when you’ve been practicing one way for well over a year? Having said that, I appreciate your imagination and contribution to the mailbag. But to directly answer your question, the answer is worse.
Cjb1978 writes: Who do you like for the KXNO tryouts and why?
CW: This is dangerous territory for me to walk into. I’m not going to give my “favorite” because that’s really not fair. I will support whoever KXNO chooses to go with. I haven’t been able to listen to more than a half hour or so of most of the auditions. I will add to this how tough talk radio is, especially when you are doing it for your first time. I can’t imagine the pressure that those candidates are under when at 6 a.m., they know that they have one shot to win the job, when thousands are listening. Then you have all of the experts on message boards like ours critiquing everything that you say. It isn’t as glorious as it seems. However, I have a hard time feeling sorry for anybody who gets to talk or write about sports for a living, myself included.
IcSyU writes: Iowa State is down 4 and has 4th and goal with 2 seconds from the 3. Who are your personnel, and what play are you calling?
CW: I’m going with what I trust the most. That is the run game. I’m sorry. The passing game has just been too weak so far in 2011 to leave it up to that. I’m letting Jeff Woody run the football towards KO’s side. I thought about some sort of a slant to Collin Franklin but I just don’t trust it right now. Woody is the best option from the 3-yard line but I wouldn’t have a problem with A-Rob or Austen Arnaud running the football either.
Chuckd4735 writes: Saturday night on your postgame call in show, Charles from Huxley compared Tiller to Seneca Wallace. Although I think the guy was drunk, any chance Tiller becomes better then/the next best thing since Wallace by the time he becomes a senior?
CW: I take it that was you Chuck? Not a bad call. You got Whitver and me thinking, that’s for sure. I disagree. I don’t think that Jerome Tiller is the next Seneca Wallace. I’m sorry. I don’t want it to look like I am “anit-Tiller” because I’m not. Its just that right now, if I were a defensive coordinator game planning against Iowa State, Jerome Tiller wouldn’t scare me at all. He hasn’t once shown the ability to beat you through the air. If he does that in the near future, then we can talk. Trust me, I hope that he does.
Isucy1234 writes: Bigger surprise to start the NFL season: the Bears being 3-0 or the Chiefs being 3-0. And why?
CW: My answer to this might surprise a few people. I’ll go with the Bears, when you consider they won at Dallas and also against the Packers at home. Those are arguably two of the top three or four teams in the NFC. Plus, when you think about how Chicago jobbed Detroit in week one, they really should have started off 0-1. The last two weeks have been impressive. Just wait until you go head-to-head with the Vikings defensive line Bear fan. Jared Allen might literally rip Jay Cutler’s head off.
Also, Michael Vick wanted me to ask you this one: Who would win in a fight: Snoopy, Scooby-Doo, or Brian from Family Guy?
CW: Cold stuff from you isucy1234. Really cold stuff. However, I have an obligation to answer this question and I’ll go with Scooby-Doo, just because he has the size advantage. Snoopy is a wuss and Brian has yet to show me the testicular fortitude that is needed to hang with Scooby in a brawl.
CyCub13 writes: A few interesting formations that I noticed during the UNI game…There were a few plays they ran Woody/Arob out of two back, with a tight end. Also the wildcat formation. I don’t remember seeing it in previous games. Was this directly associated with Tiller at QB, or Arob struggling to hit gaps? Is this to be expected for the rest of the year regardless who is taking the snaps? I kind of liked the two-back sets…
CW: I like the two-back sets too, especially if you’re having as much trouble as Iowa State is at throwing the football. After practice on Tuesday, Tom Herman was asked how much he has to change the offense when Tiller/Arnaud is in the game. He said not much at all. You can read more about this in my preview that I’ll post on the site tomorrow.