For the first time this season the ISU football team put on their pads – or some of them anyway. The Cyclones practiced in half packs today, which consisted of just shoulder pads.
ISU head coach Dan McCarney said the half packs aren't much different than full pads; the intensity is still there, but you don't take guys to the ground.
"It's very realistic. [The key] is keeping guys on their feet," McCarney said "[We don't want to] get into a bunch of pile-ups. We don't have protection on their legs and that's teaching guys fundamentals. Be an athlete, nobody has to be on the ground if we have a good practice.
"The ones and twos were great at it today. They were really good. A lot of the younger guys don't understand it yet; that's our job to teach them."
Despite the heat, McCarney said the team got a lot accomplished in between numerous water breaks.
"This is where you build a team," he said. "There isn't 50,000 in the stands. There isn't national TV cameras; it's just us out there on those two fields and you build a lot of your chemistry, and mental toughness and leadership on the football team during these kinds of days."
McCarney said there is a lot of depth at the cornerback position. The Cyclones have seven defensive backs and six of them have four years of eligibility left including Chris Brown. Iowa Central transfer Jon Banks has three years left.
"We've got to get some depth out of those guys," McCarney said. "Some of those guys will have to play this year. We want them to play and we expect them to play and they gotta do it."
A couple question marks in the special team unit is that of punt and kick returner. McCarney said it appears as if one of those slots has been filled.
"DeAndre Jackson has one of those spots," McCarney said. "He'd really have to screw up bad or fumble the ball or be sloppy with the ball. He reminds me a lot of Ellis Hobbs back there on kick returns, so I'll be surprised if he isn't one of them."
Over the weekend McCarney and his staff had a chance to do some evaluations, but without full pads on it's hard to make changes on the depth chart.
"My approach to that is, without a whole bunch of mental errors it's hard to make adjustments on depth charts," he said.
The Cyclones will practice in half packs again tomorrow. Wednesday's practice will be in full pads and the first two-a-day will be on Thursday. There will be one practice on Friday before the first scrimmage on Saturday.
"By the end of this week, we're sure not finalizing anything, but we're sure going to have a good grasp of who our ones are," McCarney said. "Which newcomers have a chance to help, which twos are challenging for No.1 or is there a big drop off?"