Notebook: A competition of their own

AMES — There’s a competition brewing within the Iowa State football program and I’m not referring to the quarterbacks. But there’s another “dead heat” that Paul Rhoads has his eye on leading up to the season-opener vs. Tulsa on Sept. 1.

It’s the kickers.

“It’s heated up the last few days,” said Rhoads of true freshman Cole Netten and junior walk-on Edwin Arceo. “Both of them the last couple of days have made field goals over 50. Accuracy has been pretty good. We have a dead heat right now.”

Don’t call this a controversy though. Rhoads referred to the competition as a luxury at this point in time. 

“What we have with that is a luxury of Cole Netten being a true freshman and having a redshirt season available and Edwin having two years to play and could go,” said Rhoads. “I’m not concerned with that one now because both are kicking well and we have that option.”

Whomever Iowa State’s kicker is in 2012 will face the challenge of dealing with college football’s new kickoff rules. Touchbacks now give the offense the football at the 25-yardline as opposed to the 20 in years past.

“I think there are going to be so many more touchbacks this year and the play almost gets taken out of the game,” said Rhoads. “Now if you play in a stadium like this with a wind in your face then strategy becomes involved. Do you have a guy who can sky it up there? What do you do? In situations like that, there will probably be more strategy than there was.”

Where’s the advantage? That all depends.

“If you can start there with no risk of return as a defensive team then you don’t mind that either,” said Rhoads. “Offensively, we’ve been pretty decent, especially recently at returning kickoffs so we kind of like that opportunity to return it.”

QUARTERBACKS: Wednesday afternoon marked Iowa State’s second scrimmage of fall camp. Rhoads and his offensive coaching staff don’t appear to be any closer to naming a starting quarterback either. It was once a thought that the decision would be made after this upcoming Saturday’s final scrimmage of fall camp. However, Rhoads doesn’t believe that will be the case.

“No I won’t name it on that Saturday. I’ll come off of the field and not have enough knowledge of the scrimmage, just like I did today,” said Rhoads. “It will need to be pretty close to that. That Tuesday after the first day of class we’ll start going into Tulsa preparation – not wholesale but Tulsa preparation. We’ll likely have a pretty good idea of who’s taking the first snap.”

SCRIMMAGE RECAP: Rhoads noted wide receiver Jerome Tiller and running backs DeVondrick Nealy and Shontrelle Johnson as Cyclones who produced “big plays” offensively on Wednesday.

Overall, intensity was up.

“I thought that the guys executed actually pretty well on Saturday, especially with so many snaps but the Big 12 intensity level that was lacking, I thought was out there today,” said Rhoads.

Both Rhoads and defensive coordinator Wally Burnham mentioned that defense didn’t tackle well today.

Rhoads was asked if he believes his team is on pace to be “ready” on Sept. 1 vs. Tulsa.

“I would say so. As strange as this might sound, we had a bad day yesterday and I felt good walking away from the practice field,” said Rhoads. “We’ve been having good practices. We’re smarter as I’ve said because we’re veteran. I think our intelligence level is as high as it has been in four years – as it should be. When I left practice yesterday I felt like we were in training camp and I felt better about that.”

INJURY: Junior cornerback Jansen Watson suffered a shoulder injury during last Saturday’s scrimmage. According to Rhoads, Watson has not practiced so far this week.

“Nothing dramatic,” said Rhoads. “More just safeguarding than anything else.”