This will likely be the headline of Iowa State's 2004 media day. The arrest of last season's defensive MVP and Big 12 defensive freshman of the year has taken a huge toll on a defensive line that Dan McCarney hoped would be as good as any he's had since the 2000 campaign. It will be interesting to hear what defensive coordinator John Skladany has for contingency plans, since Berryman likely won't play this season. Any number of scenarios are possible.
Who is Shawn Moorehead?
This youngster proved to be one of the defensive surprises of the spring, coming out of nowhere to earn the backup spot to Berryman at rush end. The Mason City Newman product, who walked on to the team and began his career at outside linebacker, has the tenacity and attitude that McCarney loves from his players. If Skladany opts to keep everything status quo on the defensive line, and not make any wholesale changes to account for Berryman's loss, Moorehead would be the obvious choice to start against Northern Iowa. But if he does, how much could be expected out of a redshirt sophomore who was a virtual unknown six months ago?
How much of a battle will be waged at quarterback, or has a decision already been made?
It's been hard to make out what exactly the situation is at quarterback. McCarney spoke this summer about the pending race at quarterback between Bret Meyer and Austin Flynn, and how the two broke spring camp on an even line. Yet at other times the Cyclone head coach has said Meyer will open practice next week as the number one signal caller. It will be interesting to hear what exactly the situation is for the start of training camp. Did Flynn make up enough ground in the spring game for fall consideration, or did Meyer already have the title of ‘starter' attached to him?
Where is quarterback's coach Todd Fitch in his bout with testicular cancer?
It's become clear that first-year position coach Fitch is on the road to recovery after going through a round of treatments, but how much will McCarney expect from him in training camp? It will be interesting to see if anything is scaled back in lieu of Fitch's condition, or if the former South Carolina assistant will be 100 percent involved in preparations for 2004.
Which newcomers have the best chance of contributing right away?
The Cyclones went back to the junior-college ranks in full force last February by signing players that they feel can plug some holes immediately. Offensively, ISU added playmaking athlete Terrance Highsmith, who will get an opportunity to play quarterback early in camp, then could be moved to wide receiver. Early reports are saying that Highsmith will be hard to keep off the field. Defensively, McCarney signed an array of ‘impact' JUCOs. Defensive tackle Fabian Dodd, middle linebacker Tim Dobbins, and defensive backs Josh Hargis, Jerry Gair, and LaMarcus Hicks will need to factor into the equation early for Skladany to field the type of unit he wants.
How much are the Cyclones depending on contributions from Hargis, Gair, and Hicks?
Now that eligibility questions have been answered on all three, and we know that they'll be a part of the football team, those in the media will want to know how close they are to hitting the field. Hargis and Hicks provide immediate help at a cornerback position that was decimated by graduation, while Gair's assistance will be needed at safety, sans JaMaine Billups.
Any pre-training camp position changes to highlight?
Obviously, Berryman's status could lead to a few last-minute changes on the defensive side of the ball. But the die-hards will want to know who the Nik Mosers, Tim Tebrinks, and Kyle Smiths are for the 2004 season. One of those could be Dodd, who coaches have indicated could be moved to offensive line if defense does not work out for him in camp.
Just how much stronger is the offensive line now than it was last season?
Barney Cotton has preached all summer about how offensive improvement will be predicated on the work done by his offensive line. ISU's shortcomings up front were obvious last season and helped lead to the offseason firing of Marty Fine and Steve Brickey. But Cotton has provided a spark to a group in dire need of confidence. Although it took a while for Cotton's line to gel during the spring, the unit wrapped up the 15-practice session on a high note. But it remains to be seen how much individual improvement was made during the summer months, when coaches could not be a part of workouts.
Is Tony Yelk ready to handle all of the kicking responsibilities?
It has been a rollercoaster ride in Ames for Yelk, who at times throughout his career has handled the field-goal, place-kicking, and punting duties for McCarney. Now, for the first time since his redshirt freshman season of 2001, Yelk will get the opportunity to handle all three full-time. It's not so much his work as a punter and kickoff that has coaches worried, but the accuracy he demonstrates on routine field goals. On a positive note, Yelk has done the best work of his career during this spring and summer.
How much of a concern is the wide receiver position, where the top four contributors from a season ago have departed?
This question presented itself throughout spring ball, but other than the expected emergence of Todd Blythe, the Cyclones went into the summer with plenty of uncertainty at the position. Andy Kohler recovered nicely from knee surgery and walk-on Ryan Baum made play after play, but coaches were still waiting for more consistency from up-and-comers Jon Davis and Milan Moses. Highsmith could also make an impact after his impending move from quarterback.