Starter: Bret Meyer
There is no doubt that the Cyclone
Nation should be excited to have Bret Meyer back as the starting quarterback in
2006. A proven leader, Meyer has shown that he can win in the Big 12. Meyer has
started over 20 games already in his young career and has experienced great wins
In his first two-years as a starting quarterback in the Big 12, Meyer has shown that he can manage a game. He makes very good decisions and does not make a lot of mistakes. Meyer takes full advantage of his teammates, often giving them a chance to make a play. Bret will be expected to raise his game another level in 2006. He will be expected to not only manage games, but to dominate. He has shown this possibility (Texas A&M 2005) and should be ready to take the team on his shoulders this season.
Backup: Kyle Van Winkle
A fifth year senior, Van Winkle has paid his dues in his career. He has survived tough times, often buried on the depth chart, and should be the backup quarterback this season. For die hard Cyclone fans, you may have noticed Van Winkle at scrimmages over the past 4 years. He has always made plays and taken advantage of his opportunities. Kyle has maintained a great attitude and has gained the confidence of the Cyclone coaches over the years.
The son of a high school coach, Van Winkle probably knows the offense better than starter Bret Meyer. Van Winkle has very limited game experience, which is a concern if ever called upon. I would expect Coach McCarney and his staff to get Kyle a lot of reps in practice and get him into live games when given the opportunity.
Van Winkle is a very cerebral quarterback with a good arm and also has surprising straight ahead running speed. While Meyer is no doubt the starting quarterback, Van Winkle is a very capable backup who should be expected to control the game and lead the team if needed this fall. Although Meyer is a potential All-Big 12 quarterback, the Cyclone coaches feel comfortable with Van Winkle as backup.
Player to watch: Austen Arnaud
All eyes will be on Arnaud in practice this fall. The son of a former Cyclone, Arnaud has been tagged the heir apparent to Bret Meyer as leader of the Cyclone offense. The former Ames High Little Cyclone has big expectations coming into the Big 12, but hopefully has plenty of time to adjust before called upon by the Cyclones. Most people expect Arnaud to red-shirt in 2006, although I would expect him to travel and prepare for every game. Mostly leading the scout team, Arnaud should gain valuable experience much the same way Meyer did in 2003. If everything goes according to plan, Arnaud will spend 2007 as Meyer's backup. He will then be expected to take over in 2008 as a sophomore starting quarterback.
While most people in Cyclone Nation have already tagged Arnaud the starting quarterback in 2008, I would hesitate to put too much pressure on a player that has never stepped on a Big 12 game or practice field. Some people are thinking he might even be the backup quarterback in 2006, but it will make more sense to try to red-shirt Arnaud and give him a chance to learn the system. No matter who you talk to, most people expect big things from Arnaud in his Cyclone career.