Vander Sanden Return Provides Relief

Offensive coordinator Steve Brickey has had a busy off-season figuring who his best options are at some positions of need. At least now he'll be able to start evaluating those players. Spring practice started on Wednesday, with a pair of redshirt quarterbacks jockeying for position on the depth chart and an offensive lineman returning to live action for the first time since injuries ended his 2002 season prematurely.

Waye Terry and Austin Flynn went through their first spring practice under Brickey's tutelage. They alternated series with the twos and threes, while returning backup Cris Love played with the starters. That will change, however, once the pads go on Saturday.

"As we go along and once they know what they're doing a little better, they'll each get some work with the ones," said Brickey, who's looking to replace two-year starter Seneca Wallace. "At some point, we'll see who's doing the best and moving the team. Both of those guys have some talent.

"They have a chance, but there's so much that goes into it. When the other team has pads on and they're putting pressure on, how you handle that and react to it will tell a lot. They move well and can throw the ball well. But can they do that when the bullets start flying? It's a different game when people start running into each other."

While Terry and Flynn hit the field for the first time at ISU, Luke Vander Sanden finally returned to action after an injury-plagued 2002 season.

He had been slated to start for the Cyclones last season, but broke a bone in each of his legs at different times. He's been given full medical clearance to return to action, and opened spring ball as the favorite to replace the graduated Zach Butler at center.

"It sure looks like he's (at 100 percent)," Brickey said. "He's not showing any ill effects and has his weight where we think it should be. We felt like a year ago coming out of spring practice that he had the chance to be one of our very best offensive linemen. We only ended up having him for parts of two games. We've got high hopes for him. He looks like he hasn't missed a beat physically."

With Vander Sanden back in the rotation along with returning starters Bob Montgomery, Casey Shelton and Cale Stubbe, ISU must fill one more void on the offensive line…right guard. Redshirt freshman Seth Zehr and first-year man Aaron Brant split time at that spot during day one. Zehr also could get some emergency work at center if Vander Sanden's injury problems return.

"Zehr probably took more of the work Wednesday," Brickey said. "It's a matter of finding out who's the most ready. We think both of those guys are going to be excellent players one day. How soon is the question."

Even with the question marks in Brickey's unit, the coordinator said it was a good start to workouts Wednesday.

"The enthusiasm was good," he said. "We've got a lot of good players out there. We have a chance to be a good team. One of the by-products of winning is that it should breed more winning. The older kids know what it takes and can pass that along to the younger guys. So much of it is just work habits, enthusiasm and feeling good about being out there. We had a lot of mistakes and have a long ways to go, but I was pleased with the start."


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