Arnaud and Bates impress in opener

Luke Plansky

Sophomore quarterback Austen Arnaud received the lion’s share of playing time and worked efficiently in his first collegiate start.

But did he solidify himself as the starter for next week’s game against Kent State?

“That’s a good question,” Arnaud said. “I don’t know. You’ll probably have to ask the coaches.”

Coach Gene Chizik said he’ll plan to keep the team running with them both.

“Again, we’re going to rotate them up [next week],” said the second-year coach. “And I don’t know whether either of them separated themselves a lot tonight, but I think they both equally moved the club the way we wanted them too.”

There was little change in the ISU football team’s quarterback competition, but both Arnaud and competitor Phillip Bates showcased some of their abilities in Thursday night’s 44-17 win over South Dakota State (FCS).

Arnaud completed eight of 11 attempts for 98 yards, playing in seven of 11 ISU possessions. Bates showed his athleticism with nine runs for 55 yards and was 5-for-8 passing for 61 yards. Each threw for a touchdown.

The game didn’t serve as a good showcase for the quarterback’s talents, however, as the Cyclones had just 12 offensive possessions — four of which came in the second half. Of the Cyclones’ eight first-half possessions, four of those began in Jackrabbit territory.

Chizik said he was pleased with both quarterback’s performances, though Bates fumbled on his first possession in the game.

“They both, at times — I thought — managed the offense well, moved us,” Chizik said. “Phillip came in there at one point off the turnover and threw that touchdown to Sedrick Johnson right off the bat. Austen took them down and scored on the first drive of the game, so I think they both did good things. But we’ll review, tomorrow, on film. I’m sure there will be plenty of things both of them can stay busy trying to get better at.”

Chizik said the coaching staff will review game tape before naming next week’s starter, and that the playing time was divided between the quarterbacks as planned. Bates entered the game in the first possession of the second quarter, running the offense out of the shotgun.

After overthrowing an open wide receiver, Sedrick Johnson, Bates took a snap and was confronted by four unblocked defenders. He spun away and tried to escape the pressure before the ball was ripped from his hands.

“It was an option, and they came on the blitz, and I wasn’t ready for it,” Bates said. “And I should have just tucked it, and I tried to make something happen, but I should have just tucked it and ate it, you know?”

Bates was taken out on the next series, but Chizik said that was planned no matter what. He talked to Bates to let him know that he wasn’t being punished for his mistake.

Bates’ next throw was a 14-yard fade pass to Johnson, who hauled it in for a touchdown.

Arnaud’s stats would have been better had it not been for two dropped balls. He threw mostly short passes until finding a Darius Darks across the middle of the field for an 18-yard strike. Arnaud said he will be “competing against himself” to try to stay focused for the next game.

“They didn’t tell me much about any rotation, so I was just expecting to play… so when they started switching us around, I thought that was fine,” Arnaud said. “We both played really well I think.”