Don’t be shocked to see Iowa State redshirt freshman quarterback Jerome Tiller play some this season.
Austen Arnaud is No. 1 on the depth chart and the expected opening-night starter — as he should be — but Tiller is a great athlete with a big arm and quick legs. Coach Paul Rhoads surely would like to find some way to use him.
Rhoads said the 6-4, 200-pound Tiller was one of the team’s most improved players during spring practice, and it showed during an impressive spring game performance.
“If he continues to do that there may be a selective role (for Tiller), but I don’t know what that is at this point,” Rhoads said Wednesday duirng the team’s media day.
Remember, Arnaud played a series or two as a redshirt freshman in 2007 when Bret Meyer was a senior, helping prep him for the following year when the starting job was open.
I don’t forsee that same scenario playing out, but you never know.
West Virginia coach Bill Stewart expressed his extreme disappointment (UH, NOT) with Wally Burnham’s re-location to the Big 12 as ISU’s defensive coordinator.
Burnham’s South Florida teams neutralized the Mountaineers’ spread offense, something Rhoads hopes carries over to his time in Ames. WVU averaged just 12.7 points and 153 yards rushing against the Bulls the last three seasons compared with 36 and 284 against everyone else during that time.
“Wally’s been a great friend, I’m a big admirer of him,” Stewart told the Tampa Tribune. “But I’m glad he’s out west.”
Rhoads said preseason practice would be “extremely physical” despite what he said would be a lack of full-out contact and tackling.
The Cyclones begin drills Thursday and have their first padded practice Saturday. The first scrimmage is Aug. 15
The two-deep lineup he has drawn up right now is etched in pencil. There will be a lot of movement between now and the week of the season opener on Sept. 3.
“The depth chart will fluctuate day to day,” he said.
No one can accuse Arnaud of shying away from the pressure of being the face of the program.
A lot is expected from the hometown kid who is one of the team’s leaders as a junior.
“I love it. That’s why you play quarterback,” he said. “When we lose it’s my fault, when we win I get the glory. That’s just how it is.”
Players I’m excited to see in action, and you should be too:
-Bo Williams. This guy looks like Ricky Williams reincarnated. Hopefully he plays even a little bit like him.
-Leonard Johnson. Keep that same relentless, bad-ass attitude, just not when the ballcarrier is six yards deep in the end zone.
-Marquis Hamilton. It’s time for “big body” to do work. Or at least more work than he’s did last year.
-Matt Taufoou. He’s short and stocky and says he’s pretty comfortable in pass coverage. Let’s hope so.
One more difference between Rhoads and predecessor Gene Chizik — Rhoads is making himself available for interviews following each day of preseason practice.
Chizik would talk with reporters after scrimmages and maybe one other day a week while making his assistant coaches available on a rotating basis.
The access to coaches and players — with Rhoads or Chizik — still tops Iowa’s, which makes coach Kirk Ferentz and selected players available only a few times before the opener and once a week during the season.