Defensive Prowess May Bring Changes

As impressive as the Iowa State defense had been in a few practices earlier in the spring, those previous efforts came nowhere close to the stranglehold it had on the offense Wednesday. Along with solid play on the defensive side, could come changes atop the offensive depth chart at a very key position.

That position appears to be quarterback where Cris Love, who has been the first-teamer through nine practices, could be unseated by redshirt freshman Austin Flynn. Love threw three more interceptions Wednesday afternoon and has not graded out well in several practices.

"It's a combination of things, but the bottom line is we're not going to put a starting quarterback out on the field that's going to turn it over a lot," said ISU head coach Dan McCarney afterwards. "He'll learn from it. Cris is a smart quarterback, real coach-able and will take responsibility. But we can't win with a quarterback that's going to go out there and turn it over a lot."

Flynn, meanwhile, picked the right time to make an impression. His 40-yard touchdown scramble late in Wednesday's scrimmage gave the offense its first and only long scoring play. Flynn also added a 3-yard option keeper near the goal-line that went for a touchdown.

Flynn added 47 passing yards on 6-of-11 completions, and perhaps more importantly, didn't commit a turnover. By comparison, Love hit on 10-of-16 passes for 55 yards.

The youngest Cyclone signal-caller competing for the job, Flynn has shown off his quick feet and ability to roll out of the pocket when pass coverage is strong. He is also a viable option as a running quarterback near the end zone.

"It was kind of a lucky thing," said Flynn, describing his long touchdown run around the left side. "No one was really open and it was a two-minute drill so I wanted to get out of bounds. Then I saw something and wanted to see what I could do and at least get a first down."

The loss of Waye Terry for spring drills also has opened the door for Flynn to win the job by the end of next week. Terry is out for six to eight weeks with a broken thumb in his throwing hand, and his loss allots more reps for Flynn at quarterback.

"Waye is a heck of a quarterback and he'll be back ready to go for two-a-days," Flynn said. "It's a tragic injury and no one deserves that, but it also gives an opportunity to the other guys. I have taken that in stride."

So in lieu of Flynn's solid play in the last week and Love's tendency to throw costly interceptions, could a change in the quarterback ranks take place before Friday's workout? It's a good possibility, said McCarney.

"I wouldn't be surprised at all to see an adjustment on the depth chart, but we've got to go grade tapes first and finalize that," he said. "You'd better come ready to practice and bring your best game. But the decision for that number one quarterback job is far from being made, either in the spring or fall."

The list of defensive players that could bring about the change included Stevie Paris, JaMaine Billups and Cephus Johnson, who each picked off passes from Love Wednesday. Offensive coordinator Steve Brickey said afterwards Love did not make bad reads and threw to the right receiver, but missed badly on those passes.

Paris made a great play on a deep throw over the middle by Love. Billups caught an overthrown pass. Johnson added a great diving interception late in practice.

"They were good plays," said secondary coach Chris Ash. "Stevie Paris is playing a deep middle on a post route, covers a lot of ground and comes up with the pick. JaMaine Billups just happened to be in the right spot at the right time, the ball was thrown to him and he made the catch.

"That's one thing that we set a goal at the start of spring – start finishing plays when we had the opportunity. One of the things we addressed was making interceptions, because we dropped a lot last year."

It wasn't just ISU's three interceptions that had the coaches talking. Paris added a fumble recovery on a run by Stevie Hicks, the fourth turnover gained by the defense. Paris and defensive lineman Jared Otto teamed up on another play to stop Hicks for a loss.

Nik Moser continues to rank as one of ISU's top defensive surprises this spring, and showed his versatility by successfully defending a deep post route to Lane Danielsen. Moser hung with Danielsen stride for stride before deflecting the pass.

Anthony Forrest also added a few nice plays from his cornerback post, deflecting a pass intended for Jon Davis. On an interception return, Forrest provided Steve Paris some running room down the left sideline when he laid out tailback Hiawatha Rutland.

In addition to his interception, Johnson was in on a quarterback hurry with Jordan Carstens.

Overall, McCarney gave very high marks to his defense.

"Anytime you get four turnovers in a scrimmage with your number one and number two defense, they're doing a great job," McCarney said. "It's poor offensively to turn it over like that, but defensively that's exactly what we're looking for.

"It was very unlike the first three scrimmages of the spring, because we had been doing a great job of holding onto the football and the defense didn't have many turnovers. That sure got turned around today with the three interceptions and one forced fumble. Our defense really went off the ball and it was impressive to watch."

More scrimmage notes

Rutland led all Cyclone tailbacks with nine carries for 32 yards and a touchdown. Hicks had another rough day this spring, tallying just 13 yards on eight carries. Brian Thompson added four carries for 14 yards, while Michael Wagner rushed three times for six yards.

After dropping multiple passes in a previous practice, Lane Danielsen dropped three more balls Wednesday afternoon. During the scrimmage, he caught one pass for 20 yards. Jon Davis led all wideouts with three catches for 29 yards. Brett Kellogg, Jamaul Montgomery and Hicks each added two receptions.


AllCyclones Top Stories