Iowa State comes into fall football camp with a new offensive coordinator and a battle at quarterback as they prepare for the 2012 season.
Cyclone head coach, Paul Rhoads, met the media today and says they have a lot of work ahead.
“First of all, we’ve got to establish who we are as an offense. We know what we want to do, but as we go through training camp, we’ve got to really to examine who we are,” Rhoads says.
“We are gonna run the football. We think we need to be a run-first football team and set the pass up with the run game. We think we have quality runningbacks and we know we have more depth than we’ve ever had in our offensive line. The quarterback’s got to be a very big part of that running game.”
Senior Steel Jantz opened last season as the starter, sophomore Jared Barnett took over, then Jantz ended up relieving Barnett in the bowl game, setting up the battle for the top spot this fall. Rhoads says the offense will be the same no matter who ends up behind center.
“We don’t go into training camp with two different playbooks. We won’t change playbooks at the end of it when we decide on a starter. As I mentioned, the quarterback run game is going to be a very big part of it, both designed and then taking off when the opportunity presents itself,” Rhoads says.
He says Jantz has a little more velocity on his throws, but Barnett can make all the throws too, so they won’t change pass routes or what they do based on the starter. Rhoads says he probably won’t name a starter at quarterback until before their August 18th scrimmage.
The Cyclones will have a lot of depth at runningback, and Rhoads says they will use them all as the situation dictates.) Rhoads says they will handle the backs the same way they have the last three years, with a lead back and put others in depending on the situation.
“I think as you go into games if a guy’s got a hot hand, you feed him the ball. As we go through training camp and one guy separates and shows us he is that dominant guy, he’s gonna get that bulk of the plays,” explains Rhoads. James White and Jeff Woody are listed as the top two backs right now.
On defense, senior linebackers A.J. Klein and Jake Knott have been getting all sorts of preseason attention, and Rhoads says its a great benefit to have such experience and talent at that position. “A very big luxury and something that’s never been witnessed in this program before. They’re deserving of the attention they’re getting, and I also believe that they are level-headed and mature enough that they can handle that and go out and play wining football for us,” according to Rhoads.
While he has two top players in the middles of the defense, Rhoads says they haven’t changed what they do to focus on Klein and Knott. “No, we’ve tweaked and we’ve added and we’ve done things that programs do and defensive coordinators do as players change and graduate and others develop,” Rhoads says.
“We’re fully aware that those guys are capable of making plays as witnessed by all their tackles in their careers here at Iowa State. But we’re not going to tell our tackles ‘you just take care of these blockers and let Jake and A.J. make all the plays’ or design ten blitzes around those guys just coming. We’re going to play our defense and they are going to be a integral part of it.”
Iowa State opens the season September first at home against Tulsa.