= Practice Day/cyclones.com and Clone Zone coverage
Wednesday, April 23: Spring Game Rewind
Also included in the segment is the final spring segment of "Mic'd Up" as subscribers will get a look at Director of Strength and Conditioning Ken Sheppard conducting "flex," the football team's pre-game warmup routine.
Links to video highlights (free and Clone Zone) are also available at the right, as well as a feedback questionnaire on cyclones.com and Clone Zone spring football coverage.
Saturday, April 19: Spring Scrimmage
“It is funny how the spring season goes,” Chizik said. “We had practices in which the offense dominated. Other days, like today, the defense had the upper hand. Overall, I liked how the defense handled itself. We did show some consistency on offense when Alexander Robinson was in the game. He can make people miss.”
Robinson carried 13 times for 58 yards and a touchdown in the scrimmage that pitted the first-team offense and second-team defense against the first-team defense and second-team offense. The game’s leading rusher was Jason Harris, who had 65 yards on 11 carries.
The Cyclone quarterbacks got plenty of reps during the 100-play scrimmage. Sophomore Austen Arnaud hit on 7-of-21 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. He threw three interceptions. Sophomore Phillip Bates completed 15-of-27 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns.
“We could have blocked better in the offensive line,” Chizik said. “We still aren’t as athletic as we hope to be in the future. This program is still a work in progress.”
Defensively, Nick Harklau had a game-high eight tackles. First-team linebacker Jesse Smith had seven tackles, as did linebacker Josh Raven. Christopher Lyle had four tackles, two of which were for loss and a sack.
“I think Lyle did some good things today,” Chizik said. “But our offensive line did not play well today.”
Bates says the Cyclones did get a rhythm going in the second half of the scrimmage.
“I thought I played better as the scrimmage went along,” Bates said. “We have all summer to get better.”
Thursday, April 17: Practice No. 14
“We got better every day,” Bolt said. “The kids are so much better. They are working hard. They are a little beat up, which is not unusual for this time of spring. We’ve been very fortunate not to have any big time injuries. Its been a very good spring working on fundamentals.”
Bolt singled out a newcomer and a veteran in the defensive line who have stood out in spring football as the Cyclones look to replace nose guard Athyba Rubin and defensive tackle Bryce Braaksma.
“Michael Tate has been the biggest surprise for me inside,” Bolt said. He was a non-factor last year after coming in from junior college. He was hurt and overweight last year but he will be a factor this season if he continues to work hard. Nate Frere has played before and has been a leader for us. I can see him playing both inside positions this year. (Iowa State defensive line) coach (Mike) Pelton has done a great job working with these guys.”
Bolt does not have a shortage of candidates competing for the nose guard and defensive tackle positions.
“Bailey Johnson is there, Chris Weir is there along with Austin Alburtis and Jerrod Black,” Bolt said. “Now we just need to keep getting better and better and I think we will.”
Bolt needs depth to ensure a solid rotation during games.
“Unless you have someone who is head and shoulders above his teammates, it is good to rotate players in the defensive line,” Bolt said. “These guys are nearly 300 pounds and with offenses spreading the ball out and throwing all over the field, you have to be able to have a guy in there for a few plays and then rotate someone else into the game.”
Admission to the spring scrimmage is free. A kids Skills Clinic starts at 8 a.m. in the Bergstrom Athletic Training Facility. Registration is at 7:30 a.m. An autograph session with Iowa State football players follows at 9:30 a.m.
3rd and 8 blitz
1st and 10 offense's 40-yard line (1 play, markers stay)
- WR Jake Williams gained 23 yards on a reverse, Arnaud hit TE Collin Franklin for a 29-yard gain and QB Phillip Bates took a misdirection play 60 yards to the house.
- For the defense, DB James Smith made a tackle-for-a-loss and DL Kyle Slifka had a sack.
"Move the Ball" 40-yard line
Series 2: DB Allen Bell made an impressive deflection on a deep ball intented for Houston Jones, jumping up and batting the ball down with one hand. Bates then connected with Wallace Franklin for 31 yards before hitting Jason Harris in the flat for a 10-yard TD score.
Series 3: Robinson nearly hit a home run on the first play, blasting into the secondary before a defensive back made a shoestring tackle to keep it to a 14-yard gain. DL Austin Alburtis had a sack, Jesse Smith had a tackle-for-a-loss and then Devin McDowell made arguably the biggest hit of the spring, popping the receiver, jarring the ball loose on a slant to force fourth down.
Series 4: DE Kurtis Taylor started the series with a sack before Arnaud lofted a beautiful ball over the linebackers to WR Euseph Messiah who then turned the play into a 41-yard gain. DB Chris Singleton broke up a pass on jump ball in the back-corner of the end zone before DE Christopher Lyle ended practice with a 3rd down sack.
Iowa State wide receiver Euseph Messiah has seen it all in this, his final season of spring practice. He likes what he sees from the team as a whole and his fellow pass catchers in particular.
“We have emphasized getting more physical this spring,” Messiah said. “We have worked on fundamentals, including our releases and blocking down field. (Iowa State receivers) coach (Jay) Rodgers has stressed taking care of the football and not doing anything to hurt the team like turning over the football. I really took this to heart and have only dropped one ball this spring.”
Messiah says he has a pact of sorts with fellow senior wide out R.J. Sumrall.
“There is a feeling that we know what expected from this coaching staff in our second year with these coaches. But more than that, this is the last chance for R.J. and myself to play college football and we have decided that we will do things with a quiet confidence this season.”
Messiah has five career catches for 30 yards but expects to see more playing time this fall. Most importantly, Iowa State head coach Gene Chizik has praised the Bettendorf native for the progress he has made this spring.
Iowa State’s spring scrimmage is at noon Saturday in Jack Trice Stadium. There will be an autograph session featuring ISU football players before the scrimmage from 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. in the Bergstrom Indoor Training Facility.
3rd and 8 blitz
1st and 10 offense's 40-yard line
- Series 2: QB Phillip Bates completed passes to TE Taylor Mansfield (26 yards) and Houston Jones (four yards) before ripping a 13-yard run on a busted play where Bates picked up a loose fumble in the backfield and made three defenders miss to pick up a first down. After runs of six and three yards by RB Bo Williams, LB Cameron Bell made a stop on 3rd and 1 to force a 4th down.
- Series 3: DE Kurtis Taylor forced a QB hurry and DB Devin McDowell made a tackle-for-a-loss on a screen to force a three-and-out.
- Series 4: McDowell forced a fumble and LB Fred Garrin recovered it to give the defense six more points.
- Series 5: DB's Allen Bell and Steve Johnson both deflected passes to force another three-and-out.
- Series 6: The offense gained eight yards through the air on catches by Mansfield and Jones before the defense forced its third three-and-out on an incomplete pass.
1st and 10, 50-yard line
- Series 2: Bo Williams had a 7-yard run before Steve Johnson made another big play, stuffing the run to force another three-and-out
- Series 3: Bates hit WR Wallace Franklin for a 3-yard scoring strike in the back of the end zone as Franklin made a nice diving catch to put the offense on the board. Bo Williams carried five times for 33 yards, including an impressive 16-yard run where he took an option pitch and reversed field, outrunning several defenders. Earlier in the drive, Bates hooked up with Franklin for 17 yards on a third down to keep it alive.
- Series 4: Bates led the offense to its second score, this time on a 3-yard option keeper. Bates carried three times for 14 yards and completed passes to TE Collin Franklin (seven yards) and WR Jake Williams (six yards). RB Jason Harris had the longest run of the day on this series, a 29-yarder to put the offense inside the 10.
- Series 5: Bo Williams capped off the scoring for the offense with a 4-yard TD run. Arnaud hooked up with WR Houston Jones on a 38-yard post on the first play to setup the score.
Monday, April 14: Chizik Media Conference No. 2
Clone Zone members have access to the full media conference by clicking the links at the right.
Head coach Gene Chizik (Full video)
"I've seen a lot of things improve, but we have a long way to go in so many ways. I'm really happy about the competition with the guys and I think they are competing for positions. I think there are guys out there that understand now because I was a starter last year doesn't mean I'm the starter now."
On newcomer Bo Williams...
"I had a great talk with him last week. Last Thursday he really had a good practice and ran the ball real well, ran downhill, didn't fumble the football and showed a lot of improvement. It was one of those days where we said, 'look, don't get mixed up with all this stuff on which way to go. When you get your hands on the ball, I want to see you run like you did in high school.' So, he's really showed some good flashes."
On QB Phillip Bates...
"Again one of the reasons we made our quarterbacks live was because we feel like we'll have a chance to have a running game with our quarterbacks in there and Phillip did a great job of carrying the ball yesterday. He made some plays of some things that weren't there, which is what he does, who he is. He got himself out of some trouble. Then on the designed quarterback run plays he was able to hold on to the football and not fumble it."
"His challenges will be in the passing game trying to progress. Overall just watching him throw the football, I think beyond a shadow of a doubt he's made enormous strides all over the place. I look for a quarterback to be able to move the club or not move the club. He's cutting back on some of our critical mistakes, the turnovers, the fumbles, the interceptions. I think he's brought an element to the game where he can make things happen out of things that aren't there. I love the way he studies the game and I love the way he comes in on his own right now on days we are not even practicing and he watches film on his own."
On explosive plays...
On what to expect from the spring game...
On the timing of his throws...
On the idea of sharing the quarterback position...
On the team's explosiveness...
Running Back Jason Scales (Full video)
On the improvement in the team's overall strength...
On the system...
H-Back Derrick Catlett (Full video)
On the difficulty of learning the position...
On the past scrimmage...
On the spring game...
On the notion of sharing QB duties...
On the idea of being the starting quarterback...
On the offense...
Sunday April 13: Practice No. 12
Franklin had just two catches for five yards and a TD last season after transferring from Butler (Kan.) Community College. The Beaumont, Texas native made 24 receptions for 514 yards and seven touchdowns at Butler in 2006. He originally signed with Nebraska out of Ozen High School. Franklin may have turned a corner Sunday. The senior was on the receiving end of a 95-yard TD pass from quarterback Phillip Bates late in the scrimmage.
"Wallace has really picked it up the last several days," Iowa State wide receiver coach Jay Rodgers said. "We talked about it in the meeting room before the scrimmage, about making the big play. Too many times in the past when a play involves us, even on a throw that wasn't perfect, we didn't make the play. Wallace today made a play and I'm really encouraged by his efforts."
Rodgers said his unit is working on more than making catches.
"The No. 1 goal coming out of spring is being physical," Rodgers said. "We have been identifying who to block and going after that individual. After that, we've worked on getting off releases and press coverage and getting down field fast."
Rodgers lauded the progress made by Marquis Hamilton. After making six receptions in 2006, Hamilton made 45 catches for 534 yards and a TD in 2007.
"I told (Hamilton) before last year that 'Marquis, you don't know how good you can be,'" Rodgers said. "Now, he can go two ways. He can say 'hey, I'm pretty good' or he can do what the great ones do and work to take his game to another level."
Iowa State will practice again Tuesday.
Thursday April 10: Practice No. 10
“I’ve been focusing on making myself more of a leader,” Smith said. I’ve been trying to improve in all areas. (The young guys) are starting to understand how (the defense) works. Some of the freshmen last year didn’t get as much spring practice time while we put in a whole new defense. This year everyone is getting a long look and even the veterans continue to pick up what is expected.”
Smith is vigilant about details this spring. The Council Bluffs native made 79 tackles and grabbed two interceptions last season but knows he has to continue to improve.
“I’m focusing on making better reads and making sure I take care of the little things,” Smith said. “To be successful on defense everyone has to concentrate on their assignments. Ten guys can do it right but one breakdown can take down the whole defense.”
Taylor missed the 2006 season with a knee injury. He was a key performer last season, ranking second in the Big 12 in sacks (6 ½) last fall. The Fort Dodge native made 41 tackles in 2007, eight behind the line of scrimmage. Taylor is conscious of his leadership obligations.
“My knee injury really showed me that being able to play is a blessing,” Taylor said. “I try to practice and play like that every day. Leadership is about being accountable. Don’t just try to be out there as a frontrunner, talking for the sake of talking. I let my play speak for itself.”
Iowa State will have a short walk-through Saturday before the team participates in the VEISHEA celebration festivities. Spring practice will resume Sunday.
1st and 10 "Move the Ball" (Offense's 40-yard line)
- Series 2: QB Phillip Bates took a designed run 55-yards to the house on the second play
- Series 3: Chris Weir had a tackle for a loss on a 3rd and 2 to force a three-and-out
- Series 4: RB Alexander Robinson made a nice open field cutback move, scampering 57 yards for a TD on the offense's second play
- Series 5: The offense drove 60 yards down the field, highlighted by RB Jason Harris' three carries for 46 yards (long of 21). RB Bo Williams capped off the drive with a 1-yard TD plunge on a 3rd and goal. Earlier in the series, Bates completed a 11-yard pass to WR Houston Jones and LB Josh Raven had a tackle-for-a-loss forcing a 3rd and goal.
- Series 6: LB Fred Garrin's hurry forced the defense's second three-and-out
- Series 7: Bo Williams showed off his open-field running ability as he capped off practice with a 41-yard TD run, breaking two arm tackles at the 30 and then reversing field for the score.
Tuesday April 8: Practice No. 9
ISU offensive coordinator Robert McFarland likes what he has seen so far in the Cyclone offensive line. But McFarland stressed after Tuesday’s practice that ISU has a long way to go to be ready in the trenches this fall.
“I’m pleased with our strength levels and we are bulkier that last year and we are moving better,” McFarland said. “I think we are getting better and making strides toward understanding what is expected by me and by our players. We have a lot of battles going on.”
McFarland likes what he sees from sophomore Ben Lamaak.
“Ben is taking his game to a higher level,” McFarland said. “He is the only one who has stepped up and solidified his position in our top five. We need better communication as a line and we need to get it right as a group every time. We are getting there but we have to be more consistent.”
Redshirt freshman Alex Alvarez is in the battle at center that includes last year’s starter, (junior) Brandon Johnson and junior Mike Knapp.
McFarland also cited the Iowa State receivers as a position that looks like a team strength.
“Our receivers have done some good things this far,” McFarland. “Marquis Hamilton has done a really good job for us and (senior) Euseph Messiah has been a pleasant surprise and has been very consistent.”
There is more work to do at tight end but some progress is being made.
“(Sophomore) Collin Franklin is now up to 250 pounds, which is where we need him,” McFarland said. “I’ve seen some real improvement from him in the last couple of practices.”
The Cyclones will be back at it Thursday.
3rd and 10 (50 Yard Line)
- The defense took the advantage this segment as DB Brady Ervin broke up a pass, DB Brandon Hunley laid a big hit to force an incomplete pass and the defense forced three QB hurries, forcing the offense to throw the ball out-of-bounds
2nd and 6 (Two plays for a first down)
- Series 2: RB Alexander Robinson carried for two yards on the option, before Arnaud ran for 16 yards on a designed run to give the offense a first down and a point
- Series 3: Arnaud completed a short two yard pass to Marquis Hamilton before RB Jason Harris picked up the first down on 3rd and 4 with a tough 4-yard run to give the offense the point
- Series 4: The defense evened the score as LB Josh Raven nearly picked off a pass on second down and DL Kyle Slifka batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage
- Series 5: Offense took the point in one play as Rickey Thompson Jr. carried for seven yards for a first down
- Series 6: Offense sealed the win on this segment with a 2-yard carry by Thompson Jr. and a 4-yard first down run by QB Phillip Bates
1st and 10 (20-yard line)
Sunday, April 6: Practice No. 8
Iowa State quarterback Phillip Bates enjoys the outdoor practices.
“There is no substitute to practicing outside,” said Bates, an Omaha native. “You do need to make an adjustment sometimes in how you throw the football. The wind is always a factor here.”
ISU has Monday off but will pick things back up again Tuesday morning.
Saturday, April 5: Practice No. 7/Scrimmage Iowa State ran an approximate 100-play controlled scrimmage Saturday, practicing outside for the first time this spring. After falling behind early, the defense came on late with two huge defensive stands to win the scrimmage 43-40.
ISU is essentially working through spring football with only two quarterbacks. It is a blessing and a curse. The good news is that sophomores Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates are both getting a lot of reps with the offense. There will be newcomers in the fall but right now both Cyclone signal-callers are getting a lot of work. Quarterbacks coach Tony Petersen says hard work is what is needed right now.
"Austen right now gets the majority of the time with the No. 1 offense," Petersen said. "But Phillip is getting a significant number of snaps because we only have two quarterbacks for spring football."
Really it is an ideal situation for Bates, an Omaha native who played wide receiver last season because Iowa State head coach Gene Chizik felt he was too valuable an athlete to stand on the sidelines. Bates made what some would say was the biggest play of the 2007 season, making a 38-yard reception in the final moments that set up the winning field goal in Iowa State's 15-13 win over Iowa in Ames.
Asked if he misses playing the receiver position, Bates reveals his feels.
"I wouldn't say that, but I now have a much better understanding of how a wide receiver thinks and reacts" Bates said.
Petersen says it is way too soon to predict how Bates will fit in under center.
"That is what is great about spring football," Petersen said. "We can test each quarterback in a variety of situations. Phillip has great athletic ability and is learning the position on the college level."
The team will practice Sunday before taking off Monday.
QB Austen Arnaud - Series 1: Hit WR R.J. Sumrall on a 54-yard post corner. Series 4: Connected with WR Jake Williams for 10 yards. Series 10: Hit Sumrall on a 12-yard slant for a first down. Series 14: Hit Scales for an 11-yard screen.
Thursday, April 3: Practice No. 6/Coach Koonz "Mic'd Up" - Tuesday's multimedia features a new segment called "mic'd up," as secondary coach Jeff Koonz wore a microphone at Tuesday's practice. A short, free clip is available by clicking the link at the right, while Clone Zone members have access to a five-minute clip of Koonz drilling the Cyclones.
Iowa State head coach football Gene Chizik calls his Cyclones a blue-collar team whose players "bring their lunch pail to work each day. Fundamentals have been important. Just ask defensive lineman Nate Frere. The junior says repetition has been a major part of spring practice.
"It has help us get back to the basics," Frere said. "Sometimes you forget the importance of technique in the use of your hands and feet."
Frere says the linemen are "pumped" to replace standout defensive linemen Athyba Rubin and Bryce Braaksma.
"We learned a lot from those guys," Frere said. "Braaksma had a great heart to play in the Big 12 as a 250-pound tackle. 'Tuba' was a great guy and a great player. There are big shoes to fill."
Special teams is getting a great deal of attention thus far in spring ball.
Sophomore Zac Sandvig is making strong progress in working his way back into the secondary and on special teams.
"We need to be better on special teams, Sandvig said. "There is more competition there and all around the team. A lot of the packages are the same as last year. We are working hard on making everything second nature."
Sandvig missed much of the last season with a knee injury but has had a good spring practice.
"My knee felt better today than it has in a long time," Sandvig said.
Iowa State's Saturday practice will be part of the Cyclone football coaching clinic that starts Thursday. The team will have a CLOSED 100-play scrimmage on Saturday.
6-on-6 Passing 35-yard Line
- QB Austen Arnaud connected with WR Marquis Hamilton on a post for a 50-yard gain and hooked up with TE Collin Franklin for 15 yards
6-on-6 Passing Red Zone
- Bates hit Sandvig in the back of the end zone for a 10-yard TD strike
- DB Allen Bell broke up a pass
Tuesday, April 1: Practice No. 5 Competition is not just about the other team. Competition within a team's two-deep fuels excellence. At nearly every position through the fifth spring practice, competition for starting positions at Iowa State is much hotter than last season.
"You see it everywhere," Iowa State tight end Collin Franklin said. "There are no starting positions that are set, (Iowa State offensive coordinator) coach (Robert) McFarland has made that clear. You can look all around at practice and see how everyone has improved and each guy understands his role better."
Competition will be vital in the defensive line where departed seniors Athyba Rubin and Bryce Braaksma performed ably at nose guard and defensive tackle, respectively. Iowa State's improved performance against the rush last season was due in part to the Rubin-Braaksma duo. Defensive line coach Mike Pelton knows there is work to do.
"Bryce and Tuba were good people as a well as good players," Pelton said. "What we have to do is simplify some things and develop the toughness that is needed in the Big 12. Consistency is what (Iowa State head) coach (Gene) Chizik has been preaching. I have seen some good things from Austin Alburtis who has been a scout team guy for two years. I've been pleased with the effort and I think we are on course.
Pelton has stressed to all of his players that success does not depend on just two interior players.
"I have told them we can get this done with six guys,' Pelton said. "Some of the transition is working the man within each guy. These are my guys. We will get it done but it is just day five. We have 10 more practices and we need to keep making progress."
Iowa State will practice again Thursday.
6-on-6 Passing 35-yard Line
- DB Chris Singleton and DB Chris Brown each knocked down a pass
6-on-6 Passing Red Zone
- Bates connected with WR Joel Zitek for a 10-yard TD
1st and 10
- Arnaud completed an 11-yard pass on a bootleg to Sumrall and later hooked up with Franklin again, this time for 31 yards. Sumrall laid a vicious block on a defender to spring Franklin for extra yardage
- Bates hit RB Alexander Robinson on a screen for 18 yards and also gained 12 yards on a designed run
- RB J.J. Bass picked up 19-yards on a tough run as he was met at the line of scrimmage before bouncing outside
- DE Kurtis Taylor led the defense with two sacks, Singleton had a pass breakup while LB Jesse Smith recorded a tackle for a loss on a 3rd and 3.
"Move the Ball"
- Sumrall had two first down catches from Arnaud for 11 and 16 yards, the first on a WR screen
- The defense forced two-straight three-and-outs, highlighted by two Taylor tackles for a loss and a Jesse Smith sack. LB Fred Garrin knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage on a blitz
Monday, March 31: Chizik Meets the Media:
Below are a few quotes from the media conference. Clone Zone members have access to the full media conference by clicking the links at the right
Head coach Gene Chizik
On the decision to start spring practice later...
On being in the weight room...
On the returning starters...
On the QB position...
On the quarterback job being won or lost in spring practice...
Offensive Lineman Ben Lamaak
On Dropping Weight...
Learning a new position...
Linebacker Jesse Smith
On filling the void of Alvin Bowen...
Sunday, March 30: Practice No. 4
“(Iowa State offensive coordinator Robert McFarland) told us that there are no starters right now,” Robinson said. “We need to execute better this season and not just at one position. We will need to be better at running back, on the line and on defense this season. If we do that it will not put all of the pressure on one position.”
Robinson came on strong late last season. As a freshman, he tallied 391 yards and six touchdowns on 95 carries over the final four games of the season. Robinson will have to battle with seniors Jason Scales and J.J. Bass for playing time this fall.
“I feel honored just to be considered on the same level as our seniors,” Robinson said. “I will let the coaches judge who is getting better at running back.”
Robinson says that his teammates are working on improving the execution of their schemes this spring.
“We are working on refining our offense,” Robinson said. “We learned the basics last year and now we are working on execution this spring. If we do that we will be better at every position.”
6-on-6 Red Zone Passing
2nd and 10
3rd and 10
Saturday, March 29: Practice No. 3
“Austen and Phillip got some game experience last season (Bates at wide receiver) but they are still young quarterbacks,” Iowa State quarterbacks coach Tony Petersen said. “They are both in similar situations. They have to learn more of the offense, how to run it, how to take care of the football and move the team.”
Still, the year of experience has changed the focus of practice for the two signal-callers.
“We are going to do a better job of execution this season,” Peterson said. “Now instead of spending so much time teaching what to do in the offense, we concentrate more on the reads and adjustments.”
Peterson contrasts the two quarterbacks.
“Phillip is a faster, athletic, running type of player,” Petersen said. “Austen has more seasoning, having game day experience at quarterback. He also has the advantage of an extra year of college. Phillip is really like a redshirt freshman.
“(Phillip) didn’t get to take advantage of being at quarterback during last season. But it must be remembered, the No. 3 quarterback doesn’t get a lot of reps, so he didn’t miss that much being at wide receiver last season. He is catching up fast.”
The team will practice again Sunday.
- QB Phillip Bates hit WR Wallace Franklin for a 40-yard gain and WR Alex Sandvig for a 65-yard TD.
- DB Allen Bell and DB Chris Singleton each had pass breakups.
11-on-11 First and 10
"Move the Ball"
- On the first offensive series, Arnaud connected with WR R.J. Sumrall for three first down gains of 16, 8 and 7 yards, respectively. Arnaud also hit Hamilton on a post for a 46-yard TD in the offense's third series.
- The second team defense posted a "three-and-out" in its first series.
Thursday, March 27: Practice No. 2
“A year ago, you were just learning the system as fast as you could,” Chizik told the team after completing its final drill in shorts. “Now we want you to be able to see why our schemes are set in a certain way. We want you to be able to articulate why good or bad things happen on the field. That is part of what we are teaching you this spring.”
Iowa State defensive end Kurtis Taylor stressed how familiarity with the Cyclones’ defensive schemes has created a productive environment in practice.
“There is no doubt that everyone is a little comfortable with what is expected of us during practice,” Taylor said.
Cyclone defensive coordinator Wayne Bolt affirmed that this spring practice will be different than last season.
“Our guys know the reads, they know the signals and in that respect we are ahead of last year.”
Iowa State offensive coordinator Robert McFarland said that while his players are more comfortable with schemes and signals, nothing else is set in stone.
“I told everyone that there are no starters,” McFarland said. “No one should be comfortable about their position on this team. Everyone started from scratch this spring.”
The Cyclones will practice again in full pads for the first time this spring on Saturday.
Wednesday, March 26: Pro Day
Participating Iowa Staters included linebacker Alvin “Ace Bowen,” quarterback Bret Meyer, wide receiver Todd Blythe, deep snapper Matt Purvis, linebacker Jon Banks, tight end Ben Barkema, defensive tackle Athyba Rubin, wide receiver Milan Moses and offensive lineman Lee Tibbs. Most had been working out in preparation for Pro Day since the end of the 2007 season.
“Guys have to make sure they are in top shape,” said Iowa State head strength and conditioning coach Ken Sheppard. “Most of the guys continued to train after the season ended and then came back to me for the ‘fine-tuning.’ They did a great job today and I am proud of them.”
The battery of tests included weight lifting in the presence of the NFL scouts, shuttle drills and individual timing of the 40-yard dash. The scouts had Meyer throw to Blythe and Moses, looking at both quarterback and receiver.
Rubin and Bowen also performed at the NFL combine, an invitation-only affair held in February.
One of the observers at ISU Pro Day Wednesday was former Iowa State defensive back Jeff Bauer. The Ankeny native and Iowa State graduate, now a scout for the New York Jets, stressed the importance of a strong effort before his peers, but maintained that performance at Pro Day is not the most important factor in making it to an NFL camp.
“We have seen a lot of tape on all these guys,” Bauer said. “Plays made on the field are more important than what you do here. But this is a key chance to catch up on each guy and see how they have matured since the end of the season. At the NFL combine, there are a lot of guys and you see them one-by-one at each position. Here, you can get a closer look and make additional evaluations that you send to the team office.”
For the players, it is a taxing experience.
“They have you do each drill in a very specific way,” Bowen said. “Everyone is watching you, not just your time, but how you move.”
Moses worked up a sweat despite chilly conditions in the indoor facility.
“They tell you they want it this way and that way,” Moses said. “But they don’t want you to worry about dropping one ball and having trouble with one drill. They have already seen what you have done on the field.
There will be some anxious moments ahead.
“Basically now you wait to hear from somebody,” Meyer said.
The NFL Draft is April 26-27. These Cyclones will be by the phone.
Clone Zone members can click the links above to watch comprehensive video coverage of the event. Free video clips and a photo gallery are also available.
Tuesday, March 25
The Cyclones got "back to the basics" working out in shells (shoulder pads and helmets) for a 24 segment session, focusing on special teams for the first several segments, before breaking into position groups. ISU wrapped up practice with a 6-on-6 skeleton drill that featured a Zac Sandvig interception for a touchdown.
Head coach Gene Chizik said it has been an easier transition into spring practice this year than in 2007, where the learning curve was much steeper.
"It's different for everybody. It's different for the players and the coaching staff," Chizik said. "The players now know what the demands are and what my staff expects now that we all have a season under our belt."
Chizik also commented on the reason for having Tuesday and Thursday practices in the morning.
"I feel like when they get up in the morning they are fresh, zeroed in and focused," Chizik said. "This year we wanted to change things up a little bit."
Sophomore quarterback Austen Arnaud talked about how preparing spring practice this season has been a much different transition.
"We know the basic stuff and we know now what we need to do," Arnaud said. "We spent so much time last spring learning what the coaches expect from us."
Tuesday's practice also marked the first time that cyclones.com got to see newcomer Bo Williams in cardinal and gold. The University of Florida transfer worked out with runningbacks coach Jay Boulware and the rest of ISU backfield. A FREE video with Williams going through drills with the runningbacks is available above.
Check back to "Spring Football Central" tomorrow as cyclones.com and the Clone Zone shows former ISU football stars at the annual Pro Day as they get ready for the upcoming NFL Draft.
Monday, March 24
Fourteen practices will take place over the next 25 days, culminating with the annual Spring Game, held inside Jack Trice Stadium at noon, Saturday, April 19. Admission to the spring game is free. All practices, however, are closed to the public.
The Clone Zone, the athletics department's official audio/video premium content site, will bring you practice video highlights and interviews with student-athletes and coaches upon completion of most practices this spring. Practice dates are highlighted in gray on the calendar above. Most video clips (located at the right) will require a Clone Zone subscription, but some free content will also be made available.
The spring game will not be streamed. However, spring game highlights, the post-game news conference and other insider all-access material about will be made available after completion of the game.