It wasn’t the final workout of the spring, but the Iowa State football team still put on a show Saturday in front of thousands of fans during the annual spring game at Jack Trice Stadium.
For the first time under head coach Paul Rhoads, no score was kept during the game. The Cyclones’ #1 offense routinely squared off with the #2 defense, while the #1 defense worked against the #2 offense. The third and fourth units saw a decent amount of playing time as well.
As expected, the offenses only ran a small portion of the playbook. The defenses dug a bit deeper into the bag tricks, using a variety of blitz packages that led to 12 sacks–although that total is inflated because the quarterbacks were not allowed to be hit, and were whistled down as soon as any defender touched them. In all, though, head coach Paul Rhoads said the performance of the defense left him pleasantly surprised.
Speaking of the quarterbacks, it seemed obvious to anyone watching that sophomore Grant Rohach has the inside track to the starting job. Rohach took the vast majority of snaps with the #1 offense, and not coincidentally, had the best day statistically of any Cyclone QB. Junior Sam Richardson and redshirt freshman Joel Lanning split most of their time with the second and third units, with Lanning taking almost all of the 2nd-team snaps in the first half.
However, Rhoads was quick to say after the game that Rohach has not won the starting quarterback job, claiming that his QBs rotate reps with the #1 unit on a day-by-day basis, and Saturday happened to be Rohach’s day. Iowa State does have practices Monday and Wednesday before ending spring drills, and Rhoads implied that Richardson in particular was likely to see a lion’s share of reps on Monday. The Cyclones hops to narrow the list of starting QB candidates to two at the end of the spring.
Injury-wise, potential starting safety T.J. Mutcherson left the stadium on a cart after suffering what Rhoads termed an MCL injury in his knee. The sophomore is expected to miss four weeks of workouts, but be healthy in time for fall camp. Sophomore defensive lineman Pierre Aka suffered a sprained ankle during the game that isn’t expected to be serious.
All Iowa State players wore the letters “CB” on the backs of their helmets in memory of former defensive line coach Curtis Bray, who passed away suddenly earlier this year.
Iowa State opens the 2014 season at home on August 30th when they host North Dakota State.