By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
Due to the fact that we’re launching our new site in a little over a week, I was unable to attend the Big 12 football media days in Dallas this week. It’s a bummer, but not the end of the world. I watched Paul Rhoads’ season-opening press conference online just like all of you did…
Here are some jottings from the media session. CLICK HERE to read the transcript in its entirety.
*** For the third straight year, Paul Rhoads told the Big 12’s media that he’d enter the season with the most talented team that he’s had at Iowa State. Here’s the exact quote from Monday morning.
"Our football team through three seasons has experienced great growth and development, and I think as we head toward this season we’ll put our most talented football team on the field as we once again face a schedule that all if not most will rank as one of the top five toughest in college football."
Depth is key here…
For instance, Rhoads said that in 2009, his staff was only comfortable playing six offensive linemen. Six! In the Big 12! This is division one football! It’s the Big 12! It ain’t intramurals!
Had I been in Dallas today, I would have tracked CPR down and asked where that number is at on July 23, 2012. My guess is around 10 and maybe higher.
Heading into year four of the Paul Rhoads era in Ames, Iowa State still doesn’t have much elite talent on its roster, but that’s okay. This program is immensely deeper than it was when "the gambler" got to town.
"I think it’s both the top 22 and the top 44. And I separate those two. This is without a doubt our deepest football team," said Rhoads. "I finally believe just about every location we’ve got a two-deep; that if one guy, his shoelace broke or he broke his collarbone, we could put a guy in and we’d be okay."
Take a look at every defensive back position and specifically cornerback. You lose Leonard Johnson and have the luxury of replacing him with a guy in Jansen Watson who is entering his fourth fall as a Cyclone.
"He’s just now going to start for the first time," said Rhoads. "That’s a lot of practice time under his belt."
With the exception of the kicking game (No offense to Cole Netten but he’s never kicked in college before. He needs to prove himself on the field before I buy in.), Iowa State is better off two-deep wise in every position on the field than it was when Rhoads got to town.
*** Rhoads announced that junior running back Shontrelle Johnson has been cleared eligible for the 2012 season. I wrote a lot about that already today in Monday Musings. Here’s the comment that I found interesting regarding this story:
"Now, my biggest concern, as he begins that process, as he does it with his head up and fundamentally does all the things to protect himself as he moves forward."
I would have asked a follow-up question to that. What exactly is the staff teaching Shontrelle to do differently than he did his first two years on campus? We’ve always heard about how "violent" of a runner the Floridian is. Will these adjustments change that?
*** Rhoads’ comments on Iowa State’s rivalry with Iowa were refreshing.
"Very important to our fan base. Maybe most of all," said Rhoads. "You don’t just beat Iowa and sign every recruit in the state. As a matter of fact, they’ve got commitments from a number right now — we don’t have commitments from anybody in the state. And we’re the team that won that football game a year ago."
That’s a solid, honest answer.
*** And finally, onto the quarterback competition, which Rhoads believes will go down to the wire much like it did a year ago.
"It will be easier for us in this fall camp than it was a year ago because we truthfully had three guys competing a year ago, and this year we’ve only got two."
So Sam Richardson is out?
I really don’t believe that he was ever in the mix. Richardson, who is a very talented young many and very well might be "the future," is still a redshirt freshman compared to two guys with experience who have both proven they can win big games at Iowa State. If Richardson is going to win the job, he’s got one hell of a hill to climb this camp.
I love his future at Iowa State but if Richardson isn’t an elite talent, a freshman quarterback starting generally isn’t a positive thing.