Saturday, April 17, 2010

Thoughts on ISU Spring Game

After a tumultuous basketball season, a gorgeous spring day and football were exactly what the doctor ordered for weary Cyclone fans. A good crowd was on hand in Ames Saturday as the Cyclones scrimmaged in front of roughly 10,000 people, including my 8-year-old son and myself. Other than the football-like September weather, and not visiting campus to be tortured by the men’s basketball team, here were the things I liked best about the spring game:

1. I loved the pace—This was the pace we were all expecting to see from the offense last year. It looks like the extra bowl practices last year and year #2 of this new offense is really starting to click. Arnaud is finally getting it, and so are the receivers. This offense has the ability to be dynamic and exciting. Last year, we saw a lot of growing pains. I think this year will be much different.
2. Jerome Tiller—Mark my words: There will be a QB controversy some time this year. Tiller looked sensational, running and throwing. He’s got more zip on his throws than Arnaud does, is more mobile, and I thought he moved the offense much more fluidly than Arnaud did in the scrimmage.
3. The backup running backs—There appears to be some good depth behind Alexander Robinson this year. Freshman Jeff Woody of SE Polk is a change-of-pace back who can get some tough yards. Red shirt freshman James White was very impressive, showing a little Daren Sproles-like ability. White is listed at 5’8”, but he looks like he’s closer to 4 feet tall out on the field. White showed some elusiveness and broke a nice 50-yard run.
4. The crowd—The entire lower section on the east side of the stadium was full. You could sense that ISU fans were clamoring for something positive to think about amid all the troubles with the basketball program. Undoubtedly, the demise of the basketball team should help football even more as people shift some of their support away from hoops over to the gridiron.
5. David Sims—The senior had some HUGE hits and should be set up for a spectacular senior campaign. Sims was the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year last Year in the Big 12.
6. Kelechi Osemele—The junior offensive lineman LOOKS like a future NFL player. My son and I were sitting in the front row, and he certainly passes the eye test—all 6’5, 327 lbs. He was a 2nd team All Big 12 performer last year as a sophomore.
7. WR depth—There are 5 legitimate receivers on this team. Sedrick Johnson was one of the highest rated recruits ever at Iowa State. He’s a junior now—look for him to finally put it all together. Darius Darks set the ISU freshman receiving record. He’s also a junior now. Darius Reynolds was off to a great start before a season ending injury in the fourth game last year. He’s also a junior. Jake Williams had 400 yards and 5 scores last year. He’s a senior. And the receiver I was most impressed with in the spring game was freshman Donnie Jennert, a 6’6 red shirt from Florida. He’s a big target and caught nearly everything that was thrown to him.

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