Cyclones Make Return to the Run

After seeing the defense gain an advantage in two previous workouts this week, Iowa State's offense made some memorable plays in Friday afternoon's practice. And even though the Cyclones were pushed inside for the second time in six spring practices, offensive coaches were happy to see a valuable facet of their offense return in a big way Friday.

Tailbacks Hiawatha Rutland, Brian Thompson and Michael Wagner all broke loose for long touchdowns during a high-and-hard team drill. The 50-yard scoring runs highlighted ISU's workout in the Lied Recreation Center, which saw some physical play from the offensive line as well.

"It looked like it was better and things are getting cleaned up," said offensive line coach Marty Fine. "We adjusted some blocking schemes to see if they could learn them quicker. We're trying to do some things to prepare them for games for some of the guys that haven't been in games. So we changed the blocking schemes before practice and made one little adjustment during practice to see if they could do it on their own. A couple of them did it real well."

Returning offensive linemen Casey Shelton and Bob Montgomery paved the way for all three touchdowns runs, which came off the left side of the line. Center Luke Vander Sanden, returning from two broken legs suffered during the 2002 season, also played a big role on the offensive front.

"I thought today we came together focused as a unit," said Vander Sanden, who saw action in two games as a redshirt sophomore. "Everyone kind of stepped up, took their part and executed their assignment. I'd say the biggest thing is focus. If you have a couple of guys that aren't focusing in on their assignments, it's easy to blow an assignment. I thought everyone came out and executed well. When that happens, you see good things."

"Now we've just got to work on consistency, from day to day going into the next practice. We need to carry today's practice with us tomorrow for the scrimmage and get better."

With the offensive line clicking, ISU's offense got a much-needed boost in Friday's practice. But it wasn't just the offensive front getting involved, as Wagner made a crushing block downfield during Thompson's touchdown carry. It also showed how a two-tailback set is very effective at times.

The Cyclones' rushing prowess made up for a lackluster passing day for the quarterbacks. Cris Love threw two interceptions Friday, one coming during seven-on-seven and the other in high-and-hard team drills.

The first pick came on a great play by cornerback Anthony Forrest, who made a diving catch in front of the intended receiver. The second ball didn't come anywhere close to a receiver, due to a missed read, and sailed into the hands of Marc Timmons. It marked the third interceptions for Timmons this week.

Prior to his second interception, Love did however complete a few nice passes to Lane Danielsen and Lance Young. The strike to Danielsen came across the middle of the field and went for a touchdown.

One of Love's main competitors, Waye Terry, also threw an interception during Friday's practice, his coming off a tipped pass that Steve Paris returned for a touchdown.

More practice notes

Nik Moser continues to make a serious push at SAM linebacker. He opened practice by beating Wagner, ISU's top blocking tailback, during a one-on-one drill. Moser made another sack later in the day…Defensive end Cephus Johnson got more time with the ones on Friday, and is being used more on the outside as coached continue to give Tim Tebrink snaps inside. Tebrink is alternating in as an interior lineman to give starters Nick Leaders and Jordan Carstens breathers…Montgomery and Jordan Carstens locked up for a brief skirmish during an inside drill…Redshirt freshmen linebackers Matt Robertson and Kyle Smith continued to play well. Robertson beat tailback Stevie Hicks in one-on-ones and Smith played a few series at first-team MIKE linebacker.

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