Here’s part one of what Iowa State football coach Paul Rhoads said during his weekly press conference earlier today in Ames.
PR: We’re excited about entering the fourth quarter of this season with two straight home games here at Jack Trice Stadium in front of the Iowa State fans. You train yourself year round as a football program both mentally and physically. So at this point in the season, you have a chance to still be improving and growing. That’s exactly what we aim to do, these last three games. We are excited about doing that with a full-speed Alexander Robinson. We fully expect Austen Arnaud to be our starting quarterback this week and we expect that Reggie Stephens will be back in our starting lineup as our center.
With Reggie, is it just going to come down to how much pain he can take?
PR: That’s exactly what it is. It’s his pain and what he can put up with. The doctors have assured us that nothing will spill out of his holes in his stomach if he does play.
Will he practice tomorrow?
PR: Probably not. He is going to re-see the doctor on Thursday. The sutures come out at that time. As the week goes along, the more he is able to do, he’ll have the green light to do it.
How surprising is that?
PR: Well, to me it was very surprising to me when they first told us. To them, it was pretty matter of fact as the procedure has changed over the years. This was a simple procedure that was done and finished and had he been free of pain on Saturday, they would have even let him play then.
Is he a pretty tough kid?
PR: I would rate him as that, yes.
I know that you weren’t here but how was this different from Mike Knapp?
PR: There were complications. I can’t tell you specifically what they were but there were complications with that procedure that made it longer lasting.
What’s going on with Austen?
PR: He was close to being full strength on Saturday. The velocity still wasn’t there. You saw the great plays that the A&M secondary made on a couple of Jerome’s throws and they had good speed on them. They would have done the same thing on Austen’s passes on too many of them. The velocity will be there on Saturday gauged on the improvement he’s made in the last two weeks.
Is velocity the thing that you’re looking for?
PR: That’s exactly what it is. You have to throw the ball in this league with good ball speed. Otherwise, you’re not going to sneak balls past people. There aren’t many balls that you throw that defenders aren’t close enough where they can close and make a play. That’s the only thing keeping him off the field. If we needed him to go out there and run the offense and run the ball and only throw safe passes, he could have done that last week and maybe even the week before against Baylor.
How much is your offense going to benefit from actually being healthy this week?
PR: I don’t think that there was any negativity surrounding the fact that certain guys couldn’t play. I think that Jerome did a nice job of coming in and leading the offense. They responded to him as the leader of the offense. But Austen is the starter for a reason. He’s got a better grasp of everything that is associated with what we do. Having that back and the command that goes with that will be important to us. In front of him, Reggie is the guy who makes all of the checks and identifies things for pass rush and for run reads, that’s awfully important. Alexander, although healthy last week, was I thought still a step off of his game. Admittedly, he got tired from a lack of running in practice over the last couple of weeks. I think he’ll be back to where he was, in early season form.
So is Bo Williams the number two running back now?
PR: Yes. He’s going into the game as our number two running back. Bo has certainly been coached up since the game was over. But there are things that he needs to improve about his game. He’s always been capable of providing explosive plays like he did on that first carry. You can’t just put a person in to run a couple of plays. Defenses will tend to start to key on that a little bit so he still has to work on the entire game. He’ll go into the game as a number two.