Looking Down the Road

With questions about Waye Terry, Steve Hicks, Austin Flynn and Jimmy Morris on our message boards in recent weeks, Cyclone Nation caught up with Cyclone Director of Football Operations Don Knock to see how some of Iowa State's future contributors and scout-teamers are performing.

CN: Let's first of all start with Waye Terry. A number of contributors to our message boards have wondered how the quarterback position will look next season without Seneca Wallace and a favorite to win that starting job is Terry. Comment on his play with the scout team this season.

Knock: He's done a great job down there and gives us a real good look, especially on a week like this when we're facing a kid out of Missouri that's very similar in terms of athleticism to Waye. There are some comparisons that you can make.

But the effort Waye gives us provides a great look for our defense. I know Coach (John) Skladany and the other defensive coaches have commented many times about what type of effort he gives. He'll even go out and do some receiver stuff when the other quarterbacks are at quarterback. They've moved him around and let him do some other things than just play quarterback if we need someone at a particular spot to give us an athletic look. His attitude has been super about it."

CN: How would you compare and contrast what Terry and Wallace bring to the table at quarterback?

Knock: I'm not going to get into what Coach (Steve) Brickey's evaluation is. What I see is a kid that can really throw a nice ball and has a real strong arm. If there's one thing he may possibly have that's just a little bit better than Seneca is that he has a little bit stronger arm. The other thing is that Waye's really athletic. He doesn't have the quickness that Seneca has, but a lot of guys don't. He brings some other things to the table.

You look at his maturity, too. Waye is very mature as opposed to just a freshman coming in and being on the scout team. He brings some leadership quality to the scout team that has helped that scout team provide a lot better look to our defense than ever before. That's been commented on many times on both offense and defense, that this scout team is one of the best looks they've given in a lot of years."

CN: Last week, Coach McCarney mentioned that the defensive coaches can't wait to get freshman tailback Stevie Hicks off the offensive scout team. What have you thought of Hicks' play?

Knock: This kid is special, there's no question. He'll run you over and then juke you. He's powerful and has the quickness and jukes. He'll give you the leg and pull it away. He just does a lot of different things and is a durable kind of back. They've got to hit him pretty darn good, because he'll hit you.

CN: Does he really compare to any backs that have played at ISU in recent years?

Knock: That's one of those deals where you wait and see. He's a little bit bigger back than the ones we've had. He's got some of the size of an Ennis. At the same time he's a little bit quicker than Ennis, has a little more gear and is a shifty runner.

A lot of times tacklers will come up and try to tackle him and get a piece of him, but won't get all of him. He's got a knack of hitting a defender on a part of his body so he doesn't have a good hit on him. It's just those instincts that he has as a natural runner that it's amazing sometime when you watch him.

CN: How hard has it been in recent weeks to keep that redshirt on Hicks?

Knock: It's been talked about. I think they're pretty committed to (redshirting) him. They're pretty satisfied with the other guys we've got running the ball in our situation right now. It's best for Stevie and long term for our program to keep that shirt on.

CN: Assess Hicks' prospects for winning the starting job next spring.

Knock: He'll bring enough to the table where he'll compete and make those other guys better.

CN: As we've seen this season with the veteran backs like Hiawatha Rutland and Mike Wagner versus a younger one in Brian Thompson, the ability to block blitzing defenders is a key to staying on the field. Where is Hicks as a blocker?

Knock: That's there, it's pretty evident that he's going to be able to block guys off the edge, block linebackers and do what he has to do. That's probably the thing that's maybe keeping him from being at the same level of those other guys. Different from high school when you get to this level, you're dealing with a lot more things coming at you off the edge.

There's a lot more mentally involved with knowing what our pass protections are and what the blitz pick-ups are. That's the difference between a guy who's out there on Saturday and a guy who's not—all of the other things you've got to do.

CN: Because of the impressive group of wide receivers on board, the staff has been fortunate enough to redshirt Jon Davis. How has he looked in his first year of college ball?

Knock: He's talked about in terms of the depth chart many times with his situation, but we know he's got a tremendous future down the road. He's down there on the scout team providing a great look. He's a heck of a receiver and has the height that a lot of players at his position don't have. He's got the speed and a basketball player's agility.

CN: What about the two freshmen quarterbacks Austin Flynn and Kyle Van Winkle?

Knock: They're all real good athletes and throw nice footballs. It's just a case of getting in the weight room with Getty and getting stronger and a little bit more faster and more size to them. We're not disappointed in any of those kids. They're talked about often and in a very positive way. We feel they all have a future here somewhere, somehow and will contribute to this program on down the road.

CN: You've lost Cory Wierson who is out for the season with a knee injury, but how has the other true freshman offensive lineman Seth Zehr progressed?

Knock: Wierson had the ACL, is rehabbing real good and working hard to get that thing back in shape. Zehr is going to be a real fine football player here. He's done a great job for us and is a real coach-able kid. So we're excited about those kids.

We've put some weight on Seth since he got here and are going to continue to do that. Hopefully we're going to see bigger strides in that once we get through the season and the rigors of what he's going through. Seth's got a big frame and you look at his family, his brothers, where they played and how big they are. He's going to get big. I think he's in the 250-pound range right now.

He's had a few little things, too. He had a little knee injury that he was out for a while and fractured a finger and was out for a while. He's running with Getty and anytime during practice you run with Getty, it's harder to keep weight on because you're doing a lot more cardiovascular stuff with him.

CN: A huge void that will need filling after this season is at center, where Zach Butler is in his final year. Which players have been working out at center and who do you see as the candidates to replace Butler?

Knock: We were working Luke (Vander Sanden) in there before he got hurt. Matt Bockes and Brian Lutter have been working in there some. That's an issue we're going to have to deal with, no question. We've also been working Zehr in there. It's talked about a lot and is a problem we need to solve by spring. The hope would be that Zehr will put on enough weight where he'd be able to do that, because he's a smart kid, can handle that and is a big-frame kid.

You can't just move anybody in there. Not everybody can do that. It takes a knack to do that, be an offensive lineman but snap the ball between your legs before you go do it.

CN: Would be the best-case scenario for next spring be moving Vander Sanden to center and leaving current starters Bob Montgomery and Collin Menard at guard?

Knock: I think you're pretty accurate in what the thinking is with the offensive staff and Coach Fine. One thing that we are looking at a little bit is trying to find the special junior college kid who can come in at mid-year and help at center or guard. But we're not just going to take a body. He's got to be a special kind of kid, one that can give us some playing time, has good character and take care of academics."

CN: Over to the defensive side, we saw a little bit of Jimmy Morris early in the season and it's been well-publicized that he's going to take a medical redshirt. What's his prognosis for the future?

Knock: He's missed some practice and some things have happened with Jimmy. I don't recall the exactness of the injury. I know Jon Davis had a little bit of a problem, too, and has missed some practice. One of those kids has a bit of a chronic back problem, which isn't a major deal, but has been aggravated by the practice. The other one has some tendonitis in the knee. We expect Jimmy to develop and be a player for us down the road.

CN: Has Beau Klaffke settled into a position yet on the defensive side?

Knock: He's going to be a player for us and is putting some weight on. He's in the 245-pound range right now and has done a real nice job at defensive end. I think he'll find a home there. He might develop into one that can play (on both sides), with the seven-technique sitting on the tight end and come off the edge as a five, too. He may not be very far off (from contributing).

CN: Coming into this season, Shaheed Richardson and Cephus Johnson were highly publicized for their potential roles along the defensive line. However, both have sort of taken a backseat to Tyson Smith and Beau Coleman who have gone on to have great seasons. What's the latest with Richardson and Johnson?

Knock: Shaheed has really come on and gets better every week. He's been talked about in a very positive during our meetings. I know Coach Nelson is really high on him and we think he's got a bright future. There's a possibility that you're going to see more out of him this week heading into the rest of our season.

Cephus' deal has been maintaining his weight. He's a heck of an athlete and has a lot of ability, but has to get a little more lead in his butt. We have dealt with Tyson the same way and he has held it down and is looking really good with his size and weight. We want Cephus to do that.

CN: How about the Smith twins from Kirkwood High School in Missouri?

Knock: They're good players. Korey is playing at defensive end and Kyle is playing a little bit of SAM and MIKE linebacker right now. Those two kids have a bright future, are very coach-able and smart kids.

CN: There was some talk coming into this season that Korey Smith could possibly factor into the mix as a true freshman, but will instead redshirt. How far is he off from contributing next season?

Knock: He very well could play next year. These kids get here and make it through the first semester and season, then get in the weight room with Getty and start eating. All of a sudden you're looking at spring ball and it's a different guy than we saw in August. The sky's the limit with both Korey and Kyle, in terms of how big they can get and the contribution they can make to this team.

CN: Let's go to a couple of the other freshmen linebackers that you brought in, like Matt Robertson and Ryan Kock. How have they looked?

Knock: Matt has made a lot of the travel teams. He is redshirting, but Coach Skladany has talked about him and if something would happen he wouldn't hesitate putting him in. Matt has done a real fine job. We moved Kock to offense at fullback. He's a linebacker-fullback type and has a bright future. He's going to come out and maybe be another Joe Woodley type of guy for us. He has settled into fullback on the offensive side.

CN: Chris Jones was a high school linebacker, but recruited to play the strong safety position at ISU. How has he handled the change in position?

Knock: He has done some nice things for us on the scout team and gives us a very good look. He's been complemented many times, moreso in terms of his run defense than pass defense. He's the type of kid that's going to come up and hit.

CN: What happened to JUCO transfer cornerback Amecus Daniels?

Knock: Amecus went home to California shortly after two-a-days. He had some personal issues.

CN: Up front you brought in Klayton Shoals as an interior defensive lineman. How far off is he from contributing?

Knock: He's doing a nice job, but is not going to be in the position to contribute this year. But on down the road we feel good about him. He's playing both nose guard and tackle for us.

CN: A lot has been made of the staff's development of walk ons in the program. Are there any names that we might be hearing more of in the near future?

Knock: David Rahe, Rusty Gibbs and Trent Claussen are really doing a nice job.

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