Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads says the Cyclones are ready for a game. ISU opens the season on Thursday night against North Dakota State and it will be Rhoads’ first game as the head coach. Rhoads says it’s Wednesday and they’re right in the middle of preparation for the game Thursday and are excited to have a healthy football team.

Rhoads has placed three walk-ons on scholarship. One of those is Iowa City Regina product Michael O’Connor. The junior is listed as the Cyclones starting free safety. He says O’Connor has been productive and accountable and able to play both safey positions. Rhoads says the Cyclones need to play a game after weeks of playing against their teammates and they start developing bad habits.

Iowa State was 2-10 a year and improvement this season will begin with a defense that Rhoads says is tackling better. He says from the first padded practice in the spring, they are tackling better, not good yet, but better. The Cyclone offense is experienced but Rhoads says it may take a while for that unit to become comfortable in a new spread attack.

He says by the time they got into their second scrimmage the offense was proficient, but he says they knew what they were seeing, and in this first game they don’t know what they will see.

One of the biggest surprises has been the play of junior college transfer Darius Reynolds. He is listed as a starting wide receiver. Rhoads says for a newcomer to play, you have to survive fall camp, and he says Reynolds did that and more.