Gene Chizik Post-Spring Q&A

Read the transcript of our chat with ISU's head football coach following last week's spring game in Ames.

Q: What's Todd Blythe's status?

CHIZIK: Yeah, you know, this was a very physical spring practice, and Todd is such a competitor, and he wanted to play. He got a little banged up on our last practice, and we just felt like it wasn't worth jeopardizing four months of training, in case he got hurt worse. And he's fine; he could have gone in the spring game. If we were getting ready to play a game against somebody, he would have been able to go, but we just . . . the training staff and myself just thought it would be better to hold him out. And again, he's a competitor and he would have done it, and he wanted to do it, but we just thought it was best not to.

Q: Can you kind of tell us what area is banged up a little bit?

CHIZIK: Uh . . . you know, it's really a little bit of everything. There's a lot of bumps and bruises; again, it was a very physical spring. That's why the spring game was kind of short and sweet.

Q: What did you think of the crowd for the spring game? It looked like one of the largest ever around here.

CHIZIK: It really was; I was very, very appreciative of the people that wanted to come out to see us practice today, and again, I didn't know what to expect, but it just shows the level of interest here to me. It's very high and they really care about Iowa State, and again, I'm very appreciative and the team is very appreciative of the people that took their Saturday . . . they could have been doing a lot of different things, but they came out to see what Iowa State football was about, and I know our players really appreciated it.

Q: How was the intensity of the defense this spring?

CHIZIK: Well, one thing I want to say is it's definitely not my defense, first of all. It's Iowa State's offense and Iowa State's defense and it's our whole football team. If your whole football team's not doing that, I'm very disappointed. And as I've told our payers before, two things that I don't want anybody to be able to watch us and say is: Number one, we don't give great effort; and number two, we don't try to play physical. Those two things . . . everybody's got a question of how good we'll be on offense, how good we'll be on defense, how good we'll be on special teams. Those questions are still up in the air; I don't know the answer to them . But I know this – I don't want anybody to walk off the field right now and say somebody saw us play and we didn't give effort and we weren't trying to be physical; and I think they both, on both sides of the ball, tried to do that today.

Q: How much of a priority is the protection of the quarterback?

CHIZIK: You know, we gave up 38 sacks last year, and that led the Big 12 in giving up sacks, and our goal going in is to make sure that we protect our quarterback, in two ways: (a) Make sure we run the ball and run it in situations where you don't think we're going to run it, to keep people off balance, and (b) Do things that give the quarterback a chance to get rid of the football. We're still holding the ball too long, we're still taking too many sacks. Sacks are unacceptable. You get rid of the football . . . you block the guys up front, or you get rid of the football, but we're trying to keep ourselves out of negative plays, and if you don't that's very disappointing to the general public. If you give up the sack, everybody's going to blame the offensive line, but there's a lot of variables in there. It could be the tailback, or the fullback not blocking, or it could be the quarterback taking too long to get rid of the ball when he could have thrown it away and not taken the sack. So we're putting pressure on our quarterbacks right now. It's not about just the offensive line. It's everybody in there together right now, and it's our offensive objective right now to make sure we can run the football, and we can't give up negative plays.

Q: How would you assess the quarterback play from both Arnaud and Meyer?

CHIZIK: Well, I thought there were some good things out there. I thought that a couple times we sustained some drives, a couple of big plays there; what we call an explosive play. And the defense did a great job of not quitting. So the quarterbacks I thought hit some deep balls there . . . I thought we missed some throws we should have had. Again, I think we're too inconsistent at the position, period. And we've got to get consistent at the position because we're doing things on offense that we think are putting our guys in position to be successful, and we just . . . we've got a lot of work to do in that area.

Q: Talk about Jason Harris, who switched back over from defense and had an 81-yard touchdown run in the spring game.

CHIZIK: Really great to see Jason hit that. You know, again, football is very simple. And we told our . . . well, I've been saying this since day one . . . you've got to be able to run the football; you've got to be able to stop the run; and the bottom line is right now, you've got to take away explosive plays and don't turn it over. So, throughout the scrimmage we ran the ball some; we didn't stop the run some; we did stop the run some; we gave up way too many explosive plays, those are backbreakers, okay; and we turned the ball over. That is unacceptable. You cannot win football games by putting the ball on the ground or throwing interceptions. It's that simple. So we are trying to just absolutely drive that into their minds right now. What wins games as a team, and turnovers don't do it. If you can't run the ball or stop the run, you can't do it. So we've got a lot of work to do, but they've made a lot of progress.

Q: Is it safe to say the offense was pretty basic in the spring game?

CHIZIK: Yes. We played basic defense the whole day, too. There wasn't one blitz in there. I don't know how many plays we had, probably 50 or 60 plays . . . not one blitz. You know, it's simply line up, run the ball, throw the ball, stop the run, don't give up the big plays. And that's what we wanted to get out of that scrimmage, and let's run the football and be physical on both sides of the ball. And so there were no bells and whistles with any of that. We opened with a reverse, just to loosen up the defense a little bit and make sure they knew that it wasn't just going to be, you know, completely bland all day long, but after that it kind of turned into that.

Q: Is R.J. Sumrall the guy to replace Jon Davis and Austin Flynn as your #2 receiver? He was the best player on the field at the spring game.

CHIZIK: R.J. had a really good spring. R.J. showed us a lot of toughness in there, we caught some slant balls with him during the spring, and you know those DB's were coming up and they were just really playing physical and knocking those receivers around and . . . R.J. showed some toughness all spring. He's got to be a guy that comes through for us as a receiver, and we're real pleased with the direction that he's going at this point.

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