Four easy steps to win Iowa State's quarterback job, per head coach Paul Rhoads.
1) Portray leadership, encompassing intelligence and decision-making
2) Understand the playbook and make sure teammates are lined up correctly
3) Be an accurate passer
4) Make something happen with your legs, whether it be in the pocket or beyond the line of scrimmage
Whoever out of Grant Rohach, Sam Richardson and Joel Lanning does all four the best — or does more of the four than the other two — will be the Cyclones' starting signal-caller Aug. 30 against North Dakota State.
A decision is expected before the Aug. 16 scrimmage.
"The 16th at the latest," Rhoads said Monday after the team's first practice of the fall.
Offensive coordinator Mark Mangino is looking for one thing in particular — a quick release.
There's no number Mangino counts to in his head until he decides a QB has taken too long. After all these years running Big 12 offenses, it's just something he sees.
"[In the spring] I could've had a cup of coffee in the time the ball was snapped to when it was launched," Mangino cracked Monday. "Now I can only have a sip."
- Backup center Ben Loth, a senior, fell to the practice field in pain early Monday morning, screaming in pain and holding his left knee. The trainers carted Loth off. He was seen maneuvering around the football facilities in crutches. As of Monday evening, there's no word on the severity of the injury.
"Don't know yet," Rhoads said. "Will have to get him in and get him examined. Oftentimes with an injury like that you get tight and tense on the field and can't get a thorough exam so we'll get pictures of it and wait till and orthopedist sees it."
While the Cyclones will be OK in the two-deep if Loth is out for an extended period of time, having the luxury of sliding guard Jamison Lalk to center, it's a foreboding sign for the offensive line, which was plagued by injuries last season, perhaps most notably at center, where Tom Farniok and Lalk suffered MCL injuries.
- The only other injury to report Monday was the recurring pinched nerve in the back of backup defensive end Gabe Luna. Iowa State will proceed slowly with that. Brock Dagel, Luke Knott, T.J. Mutcherson and Justin Madison — players who either sat out or were injured during the spring — were active Monday.
- Iowa State's defense has a few standouts like defensive end Cory Morrissey and cornerback Nigel Tribune but is mostly young and inexperienced. And reeling to an extent, coming off a 2013 campaign in which it was last in the conference in yards and points allowed per contest.
Thanks to a pair of interceptions and proper run-fits in the middle — granted, the players were only in shells — it was a promising day for the unit.
"I was pleased," defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said. "Thought we were right where we left off [in the spring]. I was encouraged."
- JUCO defensive ends Trent Taylor and Dale Pierson were both practicing Monday, making prep cornerback Mike Johnson the only 2014 signee not in Ames. When Johnson committed in January he told AllCyclones.com he might grayshirt (meaning he'll take classes and work out this fall in Florida, then enroll in January and be counted as a 2015 class member) and that remains the most likely scenario, although nothing has been made official by Iowa State.