Spring Practice Report Two

After getting spring workouts started with two days in shorts, Iowa State can finally put the pads on and get onto the meat of practice. The team continued to work on installation and light drills on Friday in anticipation of Saturday's move to pads. Although they won't hold their first partial scrimmage until next Wednesday, Cyclone coaches will now start to get a better evaluation of the 94 players participating.

"We could not have squeezed anything more out of that practice in shorts," said ISU head coach Dan McCarney. "When you don't have pads on, it's a lot of teaching, reps, tempo, fundamentals and focusing on the play at hand and then re-focusing once it's over. We're trying to develop good communication and timing. I'm real pleased with it so far. We're going to get them off their feet, get them to bed, and start first thing in the morning in pads.

"The coaches are doing a good job right now, and the energy on the field out of our players is as good as it's been since we've been here. They're not practicing like they're coming off a tough year; they're practicing like they have a lot of momentum going in."

With numerous position changes, an array of spring newcomers, some uncertainty at some other spots, and two new assistant coaches in camp, spring ball has taken on a hectic pace as coaches attempt to prepare the team with little advance time.

"For just two days it's been pretty good," McCarney said. "We've got a long ways to go. It's not like we had 15 or 20 meetings before we got out here, because you can't meet with your players until spring ball starts. It's installation and coaching on the run. There are no two-a-days or three-a-days, you get one each day. We'll find out more as we go on."

The heavy hitting will gradually increase over the next several days, but Wednesday and Friday have allotted some time for seven-on-seven drills. Those drills have been closed to the media, but it's clear that a few spring newcomers, quarterback Bret Meyer and wide receiver Todd Blythe have been stellar in their first two days.

Asked to evaluate the work of his quarterbacks and wideouts as a whole, McCarney had this to say.

"It's new terminology and system (for our quarterbacks)," ISU's head coach said. "That doesn't mean we're not running some of the same routes we did in the past, but some of the terminology is new to them. We're OK right now and anxious to see them in padded practice tomorrow. Each day now we can really evaluate.

"(The receivers) are catching the ball real well. (Blythe) always shows up. There is talent, but no experience. It's just new. But there are some good looking kids out there right now."

On the defensive side of the ball, coordinator John Skladany spoke highly of Tyson Smith's work thus far. The former rush end moved to WILL linebacker full time, and his knowledge of the defense has helped ease him into his new responsibilities.

"Tyson's played a lot of football and has started almost three years here," Skladany said. "He's got to have an idea on the defense. I think he'll learn the other things. But it's different when you're standing up rather than having your hand down. Things are coming at him in different directions and faster, and he'll have to start seeing it through reps. He's made improvement from Wednesday to today."

For some others who changed positions, Skladany will have to reserve judgement.

"It's going to take them all spring before we have a handle on what those guys have grasped," Skladany said. "They have to be comfortable with what they're playing, and play fast and not to be thinking. It's our job not to give them too much to do, and let them have a lot of reps so they can execute the scheme."

Saturday's practice begins at 9:30 a.m. in the indoor facility. It is open to the public.

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