"We've only had six practices and two of those were in shorts," said McCarney, who has begun his ninth training camp in Ames. "We're going to scrimmage tomorrow and scrimmage Saturday. Obviously, we'll know a lot more in the next week.
"It's just installation right now, getting everything in and getting back to teaching all the basic fundamentals. That's a lot of meeting time, walk-through time and practice time. Within the next couple days, we'll have about everything in for the season.
"We're bringing the young guys along as fast as we can. The new schedule is hard on them, because they've been thrown into it fast without any individual time before the varsity got here."
The battle most Cyclone fans want to know about is quarterback, where McCarney says Waye Terry and Austin Flynn are both off to solid starts. First-team tailback Stevie Hicks also has not disappointed and is establishing himself as a force in the offense.
"We'll know a lot more after Saturday and should have a better feel," he said. "They've both picked up where they left off in the spring and are doing good things. I see small strides every day out there at quarterback from those two guys. (Stevie) has been nothing short of outstanding. We'll find out a little more these next couple scrimmages where it's live, but he's had an outstanding camp so far."
Another inexperienced quarterback in the mix, true freshman Bret Meyer, probably won't hit the field this season and may not even crack the two-deep until 2005. But the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder is already making an impression on the coaching staff.
"I'm very impressed with him," McCarney said. "I don't know how soon he'll play or if he'd be in the mix this year at all, but it was a great decision to recruit him and bring him in the program."
Expect the Cyclones to focus on all facets in their most extensive workout Saturday, and get some situational work while going head-to-head Wednesday.
"We'll get some short yardage, goal-line and third-down situations tomorrow live," McCarney said. "We'll have some practice and some scrimmage. Then we'll hit all phases on the field Saturday. It will be a long scrimmage. Two weeks from Saturday is the first game, so we've got to make as many decisions as we can and try to be as fair as we can with the amount of repetitions we get each kid, the looks they get and opportunities they have."
One player not expected to be available for the remainder of preseason practice is Henry Poullard, who is out after breaking a foot. The third-team cornerback was coming off a great spring and coaches expect him to play a special teams role this season.
"Henry Poullard will be out for a few weeks," McCarney said. "It was a real freak thing in a one-on-one drill. He's already had surgery. Other than that, we're in pretty good shape."