By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com Publisher
We are days away from the 2010 Cyclone spring game. Are you excited about football yet?
You should be, especially with everything that has gone down within the basketball program over the past few months. I’m not going to focus on that in today’s blog though. Glass half full right?
Today, I’m going to react to what Paul Rhoads had to say during yesterday’s press conference. I wasn’t able to attend the event but did watch it last night via the video replay on www.cyclones.com.
Who has been the single biggest surprise for the Iowa State Cyclones this spring?
According to Paul Rhoads, those men are Austen Arnaud and Alexander Robinson. Really Coach?
The biggest surprises of the spring are two of your most experienced players?
That was kind of a boring answer in my opinion, but a good one. Let me explain. Fans are always looking for young players to hype up over the summer months and yes, there will be those green Cyclones that grab a headline here or there.
But by Rhoads saying the words that he did about Arnaud and Robinson, I’m even more optimistic that next year’s offense will score more and a lot more at that.
What will next year’s offensive success ultimately come down to? That’s quarterback play in my opinion. If Arnaud has improved as much as Rhoads claims, that is extremely good news. Robinson was good last year. Can he stay healthy and be great during his senior campaign? All signs are pointing to yes right now.
But before you get too excited, remember that it is only April 13.
Offensive line depth
It doesn’t matter how solid a quarterback is if the offensive line is terrible. That won’t be the case in Ames next season as an already experienced group is coming back, minus one Reggie Stephens. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve bought into the thought that the big men up front are actually going to be better than they were a season ago.
The starting five from left to right should look like this: Kelechi Osemele, Alex Alverez, Ben Lamaak, Scott Haughton and Brayden Burris.
I like that group but what I have been even more impressed by this spring is the depth that has begun to acquire. Yesterday, Rhoads announced that Hayworth Hicks will be back in the mix this summer and will likely compete with Alverez for the left guard starting spot.
On top of that, guys like Kyle Lichtenberg have reportedly had a great spring.
The more I research it, the more I love this offensive line. Look for this unit to be one of the best in the Big 12 come next fall.
Running back situation
So we’ve talked about quarterback and the offensive line, up next is this traffic jam of running backs on the Iowa State depth chart.
Behind Robinson, there is currently a three-way scramble at number two, featuring Beau Blankenship, James White and Jeff Woody.
Woody’s name seems to be the hottest at this point in time. Just last week, running back’s coach Kenneth Pope told us that he probably had a very slight edge at that point. As expected, Rhoads was very complimentary of Woody during yesterday’s presser.
I believe that Jeff Woody will serve a substantial purpose on next year’s football team. He’s a nice change up option. A third and short kind of guy. Line him up on the goal line.
But I have a hard time believing that he has the explosiveness needed for Iowa State to win in the Big 12, should something happen to Alexander Robinson.
Again, I’m not saying that he won’t play and that he won’t ultimately make a defense during his time at Iowa State. I’m just not sold that he is an every down type of back right now.
That’s where Shontrelle Johnson enters the equation. Rhoads talked about the hyped-freshman yesterday and said that he’d be given an opportunity to make an impact the day he steps on campus. However, also Rhoads pointed out that expectations are being set right in the middle at this point in time.
We all believe that Johnson will be able to come in and run the football. But what about blocking? What about different types of reads that he’ll have to know?
Those are the question marks that we won’t know answers to for a while.