AMES – Iowa State unveiled its new offense using the same “jet” tempo on Saturday.
If the annual spring game is any indication, the Cyclones’ opponents will be left gasping for air this fall.
The Cardinal – led by starting quarterback Sam Richardson – defeated the Gold, 35-27, in front of the largest crowd in spring game history.
“We definitely found some playmakers out there,” Richardson said. “They are all over the field.”
After a sluggish start, Richardson showed the same command of the offense he helped lead to a 51-23 trouncing of Kansas last season. The sophomore completed 9-of-13 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns. Richardson added 47 yards and another touchdown on the ground.
Most impressively, he directed Iowa State’s arsenal of speedsters in the new pistol offense. Richardson’s first touchdown toss was a 31-yard strike to Justin Coleman. Later, he made an easy throw to Albert Gary for a 5-yard score.
“I think Sam’s had a very pleasing spring,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said.
Of course, the quarterback’s job is a lot easier when he’s surrounded by a hoard of talented running backs and budding receivers. Both Cyclone teams combined to run for 517 yards in the game using the deception of the pistol alignment.
Sophomore Quenton Bundrage paced the wideouts with 73 yards receiving on three catches.
“I thought (the offense) did a better job than they have in the past of running what we refer to as jet tempo,” Rhoads said. “A lot of this running plays stuff keeps the ball inside the hashes and near the hashes. When that happens, the ball gets set faster. When you get a ball set faster, you get an opportunity to go. We took advantage of that.
Backup quarterback Grant Rohach finished the spring strong. The redshirt freshman floated a couple of passes – including one that was intercepted – but he tallied 185 yards on 19-of-31 passing. Rohach also scored a rushing touchdown, and finished with 35 yards on the ground.
“I think Grant Rohach continues to show anybody that observes it – and there were a lot of folks here to observe it today – that he can throw,” Rhoads said.
Running backs impress
Is it too late to change to the wishbone offense? Iowa State certainly has the running backs to pull it off.
Aaron Wimberly and DeVondrick Nealy highlighted the spring game with their performances on Saturday. The duo will join veterans Shontrolle Johnson, James White and Jeff Woody in the backfield this fall.
“If I was to say what position had the best spring, I would say the running back position,” Rhoads said.
Rhoads will need to be creative this fall to find touches for his talented stable of runners. That’s likely a problem Rhoads can deal with.
In Saturday’s scrimmage, Nealy showed a good burst and a knack for finding yards inside. Make those big chunks of yards.
The sophomore finished with 142 yards and two rushing touchdowns on just 18 carries. Nealy started the scoring with a 14-yard jaunt into the end zone.
“DeVondrick Nealy is running certainly like we thought he was capable of,” Rhoads said. “Going into his third season, that’s very encouraging to see.”
“We just take advantage of every opportunity,” Nealy added. “That’s all we can do.”
Wimberly was nearly as impressive. The former Iowa Western tailback showed a burst few can match in scampering for 87 yards.
“Aaron Wimberly, I think you saw enough of him to understand our excitement,” Rhoads said.
Now, Rhoads has until Aug. 31 to figure out how to best use all his toys in the backfield.
Kickers still battling
What did Iowa State find out about its kickers on Saturday? Hmm, not much.
Both Cole Netten and Edwin Arceo were inconsistent in the scrimmage. Arceo went 1-of-3 and Netten 2-of-4.
“Such is the life of kickers and making decisions on kickers,” Rhoads said.
In a battle that will likely last up until the Aug. 31 opener, neither grabbed the position. Netten missed from 50 and 53 yards after connecting from 45 and 29 yards on his first two tries. Arceo missed from those yardages, but drilled a 53-yard in the third quarter.
“I knew it was big,” Arceo said. “It was nice making one. It was a nice confidence boost, I guess.”
So who will take the kicking duties against Northern Iowa? Stay tuned.
Paul Rhoads on the play of Willie Scott on Saturday. The senior defensive end notched a pair of sacks and picked off a Sam Richardson pass.
“I told the defensive staff, that guy’s got to have a big year for us. We need him too, expect him too. He came out and showed that ability today.”
Grant Rohach on how he approaches practices
“Sam is taking the reps with the ones every time. He is the starting quarterback. In my mind, I come out and compete every day like the job is completely open. Just try to get better every day.