"I like where this team's at right now. This team loves to play the game and is real competitive. They saw it pay off in rewards for a lot of hard work and commitment last year. They want some more of that, but there is no easy way to get there."
ISU brought in officials to referee a 52-play scrimmage in the second half of Wednesday's practice. Bret Meyer and Stevie Hicks continue to be the top two offensive skill players, but first-time receiver Austin Flynn is not too far behind.
Through five practices the former quarterback has gone from experiment to player fighting for a starting job. McCarney again handed out plenty of compliments.
"He's challenging for a number one right now," ISU's head coach said. "Of course Todd Blythe is out of there, but he's challenging right now. That's how much improvement he's made in five practices. It just helps the competition at that position. R.J. Sumrall and Austin Flynn are two newcomers at the wide receiver position that are in the thick of things for playing time next season.
"It doesn't surprise me how well Austin's doing, because he's smart, unselfish, tough, is a good athlete, and has good hands. I'll be shocked if we ever move him back to quarterback. The only way we ever move him back is if we had injuries, especially to Bret Meyer. I really like Austin at wide receiver and he is in the mix. He's going to play a whole bunch of football the next couple years at wide receiver."
Flynn was one of roughly 12 players that opened the spring in new positions. A couple more players were added to that list on Wednesday.
Redshirt freshman Chris Brown gave cornerback a shot, a logical move given the lack of scholarship depth in the secondary. Fellow redshirt defender Adam Carper moved up from strong safety to SAM linebacker, where he will compete with second-teamer Brandon Gunn.
Injuries continue to effect the Cyclones' lineup on both sides of the ball. Although the setbacks aren't believed to be serious, they have made it difficult.
"We're still missing three or four guys that we'd like to have out there at practice from an injury standpoint," McCarney said. "It's not serious and they will be back soon. Hopefully Scott Stephenson will get in the mix before long."
ISU continues the spring campaign with practices on Friday and Saturday. The biggest test of the spring will take place at the halfway point on Saturday, with a full scrimmage in Jack Trice Stadium.