Spring Practice Report One

Thanks to the introduction of its new indoor practice facility Wednesday afternoon, Iowa State coaches and players had no problems focusing on the start of spring football, and not on what's in the past. The Cyclones kicked off spring with the first of two scheduled workouts in shorts and no pads.

Head coach Dan McCarney met with the media shortly before the opening of practice, saying his team was anxious to hit the field again after the season finale in late November.

"We're ready to go," he said. "The break has been too long. We were used to having short breaks from bowl season to spring football, and we had a long break this year. We don't like that, and we're anxious to get going. Coaches and players alike have a great energy and excitement about today."

Inclement weather has always played a part in McCarney's scheduling in the months of March and April, but his planning has now gotten a whole lot easier. ISU will christen the indoor facility with three scheduled practices this week, and will likely head outside starting Monday if conditions are favorable.

"Players and coaches all want to be in here today," he said. "We'll go the first three days in here regardless of the weather. It's good to get in here and start bouncing around on the best turf in the country. It was survival out there in the past, but it's nice to have the choice now.

"We'll be in here some more this spring, but we'll get outside too. We've got to practice in the wind and weather. But my decision will be easier now, whether we're going inside or outside, because now we've got a state-of-the-art indoor facility."

The quality of practice also should be upgraded, said McCarney.

"You never have to worry about the focus of the kids, because of wind, rain, cold, and whether they're trying to survive practice or trying to improve," ISU's head coach said. "The conditions are fantastic. The film is great. We have Musco lighting, indirect lighting, which is unbelievable. It's a great teaching environment from a coaching standpoint."

Coaching his team for the first time in the indoor facility brought a smile to McCarney's face, especially after all he had gone through in recent seasons trying to get one built.

"We've seen it from the beginning when it was on the drawing board, when we turned the first couple shovels of dirt before the Texas Tech game two seasons ago, to today when we're out here having our first official practice," he said.

"It's phenomenal. It's as good as there is in America, and thank God we finally got it built here. Thanks to Steve and Debbie Bergstrom and a lot of other great donors.

"It's what we dreamed about, raised funds for, and talked about. We don't have to take a back seat at Iowa State, and they had for years and decades. This is one more statement that we're not going to take a backseat."

Wednesday's practice also brought about a new outlook after a 10-game losing streak to end the 2003 season. However, it's obvious that a lot of work must be done this spring for the Cyclones to get that winning feeling back again.

"There isn't anything this team can do about last year," McCarney said. "This is a new team, there will be new players, and hopefully a new tradition established. We'll find out some new starters. The important thing is that we leave the field every day better than when we started practice. We're on the fast track of getting ready for the Northern Iowa game on September 4th."

Spring practice notes

The highly anticipated spring battle between Austin Flynn, Cris Love and Bret Meyer opened Wednesday afternoon with all three players doing some light throwing and footwork. Their head coach declared the position battle to be ‘wide open.'

"I feel better about it than I did last year at this time," McCarney said. "Flynn and Love have some experience and starts under their belt. Neither one of them were super or consistent at any one time, but they have some experience.

"Then Bret Meyer emerged on the scout team, and went up against the number one defense. It really is wide open. We have a new coordinator and new quarterback coach. We had no consistency there last year, but may the best man win the job."

For the first time in his tenure at Iowa State, McCarney shut down workouts to the media Wednesday afternoon after five periods of practice…The Cyclones took the field with 94 players and were without just one scholarship member of last season's team – linebacker Jimmy Morris, who is out all spring with a knee injury.

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