Practice Report: Specialists Emerge

With the first scrimmage in the books, find out which specialists have separated themselves from the pack. With no Tony Yelk, or Landon Schrage and only three weeks until the opening kick-off, which fresh faces have taken the reigns in ISU's specialty units? Find out in this update.

Today was Iowa State's first chance to hit the field in a simulated game setting. After an hour and a half of regular practice, the Cyclones had 25 plays of scrimmage action in beautiful summer conditions.


For all of the complex schemes and blitz packages, football can be broken down into a simple formula: Get more yards than the other guy. And that was the emphasis of the scrimmage on Wednesday.


"If the offense got five yards, it won. If the defense held the offense to three or less yards, it won. It was real balanced," McCarney said.


Although the offense and defense getting some quality work in, it was perhaps the special teams that received the most valuable time under the bright sun. And the most unheralded of the specialists is the deep snapper. After several years in the saddle Landon Schrage departed to the pro ranks, leaving a vacated spot in the middle of Iowa State's special teams. Enter Matt Purvis. The deep snapper from Arizona impressed the Cyclones so much during a kicking camp last fall, they gave him a scholarship. And so far this summer, that looks like a brilliant decision.


"Matt Purvis is far and away our best deep snapper," McCarney said.


And the men at the end of the kick sequences are separating themselves as well. Junior place kicker Bret Culbertson and Freshman punter are performing well.


"Culbertson hit his field goal in the scrimmage today and has had a real good camp so far. He is our No. 1 kicker right now. I'm really impressed with Brandtner.  We thought it would a real battle, but it has been no contest for our No. 1 punter. He has been really consistent, outstanding.  I know we've only been in camp for a week. We've tried to put pressure on him, to heat him up and he has been solid," McCarney said.


As for the return game, DeAndre Jackson has maintained his excellence on the kick returns, but the punt returning duties are up for grabs. And a few young pups are challenging to find a way on the field. The staff raved about the speed of this years recruiting class and nowhere is that more evident that in the punt return game with Zac Sandvig, Drenard Williams, and Devin McDowell all vying for some time back deep.


"We're taking a look at our young guys--Sandvig, (Drenard)Williams and Devin McDowell can all catch the ball back there. We're trying to see if those guys can be better than Baum or Sumrall.  They are real solid back there and so far the young guys have not beat them out," McCarney said.


The Cyclones hit the practice fields two more times on Thursday. The Toledo game only three short weeks away.

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