ISU Coach Gene Chizek If you are heading to Iowa State Thursday for the Cyclones’ season opener against South Dakota State you may want to buy a program.

When special teams are included 15 true or redshirt freshmen are in the two-deep. Coach Gene Chizik enters his second year at the helm after a 3-9 record in 2007. 

Chizik isn’t calling it a surprise, but says there have been some guys who have “jumped off the page” at them in the first weeks of camp. He says it will be interesting to see how those players do when the lights come on. Chizik says several players will be on the field for the first time on Thursday night.

He says it will be an exciting time for those who play, because they’ve had to earn their starting roles and playing time. South Dakota State is a relative newcomer to the one-double-a ranks but Chizik says there is no way the Cyclones will look past this game. “I can say one word, Northern Iowa,” Chizek says, referring to the Cyclones recent loss to the Panthers.

Chizik says even though a high number of young players will be on the field he expects the Cyclones to be a better team. He says he feels good about it as they have worked hard this fall and have another year in the weight room.

Chizik says an improved running game is a must, regardless of who you’re playing at quarterback, unless you throw every down. He says the team knows the importance of being able to run the ball. Sophomore Austen Arnaud has been named the starting quarterback but Chizik says Phillip Bates will also play.

Chizek says he’s not making any promises about how much each will play, as that could change based on how they do in the game.  

Arnaud says he’s concerned with playing well not how much he plays. He says regardless of who plays, they’re going to score and move the team. Arnaud says a high number of freshman getting time is a good step for the program. He says it’s a positive as they may have some bumps in the road, but will get lots of experience.

Arnaud says the competition with Bates has been a healthy one, and they will feed off each other and that will make the team better.