Iowa State vs. Miami (Ohio) Notebook

<b>AMES, IA --</b> It's hard to ignore the offensive tradition that has been built at Miami of Ohio under Terry Hoeppner. Although the coach will be headed to Indiana after the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, his legacy of developing prolific quarterbacks should continue on. Losing NFL first-round pick and Pittsburgh Steeler rookie phenom Ben Roethlisberger has done little to slow the Redhawk attack, which has been re-energized by quarterback Josh Betts.

The Cyclones won't be worrying about ‘Big Ben,' but will have to contend with a quarterback that's put up big numbers in his first season as a starter. Betts has thrown for 3,255 yards and 22 touchdowns this season, and played a big part in the offense's 32.8 points-per-game average.

"He's tremendous and has a great arm," said ISU head coach Dan McCarney during Friday's press conference in Ames. "They run a lot of shotgun and one-back. He knows what he's doing. He's got complete control of that offense. He can throw the short routes, touch routes, can gun it, and throw it on a rope. He has really got a great arm.

"Three-thousand yards is really amazing. What is that, 15 miles? It seems like it. That's a lot of yards, completions, touchdowns, and not many interceptions."

Just how pass happy are the Redhawks this season? Of the 408 yards of offense they average per game, 283 have come by way of the air. Betts has had two quality receivers to pick from, too. Ryne Robinson and Michael Larkin combined for 112 catches, 1,644 yards, and 12 touchdowns through 12 games.

ISU prepares for many different offensive systems week in and week out, but Miami of Ohio's philosophy is somewhat different than any it has seen in 2004.

"They don't exactly (compare to any of them), but we've seen shotgun and teams that will get back there and throw it all over," McCarney said. "Their routes are similar in a lot of ways. But there is not one offense where you'd say it's really Missouri, Kansas State, or what Nebraska is trying to do. There is plenty of carryover from the preparation that we've had all season long."

One thing the Redhawks have been prone to is turning the ball over, and have done so in bunches against certain teams. They committed six against Michigan and then added five against Marshall. MU quarterbacks have thrown 15 interceptions through 12 games, and the team has also lost 14 fumbles.

"A lot of Miami's turnovers came early in the year," McCarney said. "(Michigan and Marshall) was almost half of their turnovers. As you watch tape, they've done a better job of protecting it in recent games."

Hoeppner's job not a factor

McCarney admitted he was close to Indiana's search for a head coach, because good friend, former college roommate, and Cyclone assistant Bobby Elliott was a finalist for the post. He congratulated Hoeppner on getting the job, but later said it doesn't have anything to with his team's preparation.

"I'm sure it's a great opportunity," ISU's head coach said. "He's leaving a great job for another great job. I was fairly close to it, because Bobby Elliott was a finalist. I was trying to help him get the job, like all the other guys that have worked with Bobby. It didn't work out. He was one of three finalists brought to the campus, and it went to Terry Hoeppner. He's one of the real winning coaches in all of college football in recent years.

"But it has nothing to do with our preparation or how important it is for us to win this game. There are only going to be 28 bowl champions when this bowl season is over, and we want to do everything we can to be one of those 28, and bring another bowl championship trophy back to Ames."

A challenge to all non-contributors

McCarney has issued a stern challenge to all of his players that may be underachieving and not playing an active role on the team. ISU's 15 bowl practices has become a great time for coaches to evaluate those players, in hopes of accelerating their development for future seasons.

Although he declined to name names, McCarney said he challenged pretty much everyone in that category.

"There aren't many that we haven't (challenged)," he said. "We really zeroed in on some of those guys that have been in the program for a couple years. You're not going to expect too much from a true freshman, even though we like the development of that freshman class. But if you've been in the program two years, you can look at the roster and say let's make a move.

"How much longer are you going to wait? How many more spring balls, trips to Matt McGettigan's weight room, or meetings are you going to sit through and not play on Saturdays. If you've been in the program a couple of years and aren't playing on Saturdays, it's a disappointment. That's my approach; I don't sugarcoat anything with my players. I know some positions are easier to get on the field than others, but if you've been in the program for a couple of years, let's go. This isn't a free ride and you need to earn it. There are no giveaways."

The Cyclones and Redhawks kick off at 5:30 p.m. December 28th at Independence Stadium in Shreveport.


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