"Tyease has shown a lot of toughness for a guy that's 170 pounds," said McCarney. "Tyease gets better every time we practice. He'll be the first one off the bench, then we'll see how the game goes. We fully anticipate Scales and Coleman playing.
"If you ask my staff, and the offensive and defensive players who in the last 10 days has made as much progress as anybody on this football team, and it's number four. He's made great progress since we stopped installing, made it all review, and stopped throwing new stuff at him. He's really making strides."
However, ISU's head coach said that the depth chart behind Hicks is nowhere near being set for the remainder of the season.
"It's a great problem to have, because all the newcomers are good players," McCarney said. "(Thompson, Scales, and Coleman) were our top three freshmen from the day that we got started with them. There is no doubt that they were our top running backs behind Stevie Hicks, and it was just a matter of how they fell.
"I don't know if there is going to be enough carries for all four of them, but those kids will play. We know it's going to be a long season and don't want to wear Stevie Hicks by having him carry the ball all game long. We've made up our minds we're going to play Tyease and those other guys are going to be ready to go as well."
McCarney also indicated that Thompson, Scales, and Coleman likely won't redshirt because of their active roles on various special teams.
"They're all over our special teams," ISU's coach said. "Coleman is a guy that could play running back or fullback, because he's so physical, strong, and tough. It's not out of the realm of possibility that we could still redshirt one of those guys, but right now our plans are to play those guys. They are some of the better players on our special teams. It's hard to put a redshirt on a guy when you watch him perform out there in practice."
Starting left guard named for Saturday
After flirting around with JUCO transfer Fabian Dodd, along with a cast of other offensive linemen, McCarney named junior Kory Pence the starter at left guard. Pence found himself buried in the depth chart early in training camp after he failed to win a starting job in the spring, but put himself back at the top after faring well in the last week and a half.
"Pence has really gotten better and had two good scrimmages in a row," McCarney said. "When we go ones-ones, and that's (Nick) Leaders and (Brent) Curvey that he's blocking inside, then Tim Dobbins, he's doing a nice job. He's really gotten better and earned that position. As always, you want to build depth and play those backups as well. But he is clearly our starter going into the game."
Pence will start ahead of Trent Claussen, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound redshirt sophomore. Dodd settled in as the backup to Seth Zehr at right guard. Johannes Egbers got early consideration for the starting spot at guard, but has now moved outside to be Cale Stubbe's backup at left tackle.
Eboh's amazing journey
While McCarney did not say rush end Collins Eboh would be the team's latest Big 12 defensive freshman of the year, he does believe that the former Des Moines Roosevelt star would play a key role.
That's saying something for a player who was not even recruited by a Division I program other than ISU. The Cyclones interest in Eboh even came relatively late in the recruiting process.
"He's got a great look in his eye," McCarney said. "Whether he does something real good or gets blocked and knocked around physically, he's always had the same look in his eye. His maturity level is real strong and real high. But to sit here and tell you in February that I thought Collins Eboh was going to be here in our two-deep – it goes way beyond Jason Berryman's absence. Collins would have been playing whether Berryman was here or not.
"He would have been in our rotation, based on what I've seen in these four scrimmages and 25 practices. It was us and nobody else, Division I. Watch him and his career now. He's going to be a fine player. We can't bring enough guys like Collins Eboh into the program, in-state or out-of-state. He is going to play a lot this year."
Eboh's emergence as Tyson Smith's backup at rush end likely means fellow true freshman Travis Ferguson will be redshirted this season. That will allow the staff to evaluate Ferguson at other positions on both sides of the ball.
"We are definitely going to try to redshirt him," McCarney said. "We know that he can be a defensive end, rush end, or tight end in his career. All of those are possibilities. He's a quality young man, but unless we get some injuries we're going to hold him this year."