Pressure mounts for Wallace

Jeff Stell

After months of hype and buildup, the much-anticipated debut of ISU quarterback Seneca Wallace is drawing closer.

Wallace earned the No. 1 job going into two-a-days and, barring injury or drastic improvement by one of three competitors, he will be the starter when the Cyclones kickoff the season hosting Northern Iowa Sept. 8.

“From playmaking and consistency standpoint, Seneca earned the No. 1 spot,” ISU head coach Dan McCarney said. “It’s not a slam dunk that Seneca will be the No. 1, but it will take a great effort to knock him out of that spot. He’s put on some weight and gotten bigger and stronger over the summer.”

Wallace, a junior college transfer from Sacramento Community College, has practiced with his new teammates since spring ball, but acknowledges the real test will come in a live game situation.

“It has to come in a game,” Wallace said. “Practice and a game are a lot different. The speed of the game is going to be a lot quicker. It’s going to be difficult but it comes with the territory of being a quarterback.”

McCarney has been careful with Wallace so far, but admits that he’ll have to step up the defensive intensity in practice to fully prepare his main man for the season opener.

“There’s a fine line there, because if you go into a game with a quarterback who doesn’t have a lot of contact or decision making from practice, then you’re cheating him,” McCarney said. “He’s got to get some exposure in that way, but we will limit it. Wallace features a multi-dimensional style of play which helped him rack up 3,675 passing yards and 22 touchdowns and 550 yards and nine touchdowns rushing at Sacramento.

In the spring game, Wallace gave Cyclone fans a taste of his versatility, finishing 7-of-11 for 124 yards through the air while adding a 35-yard touchdown run.

Since his arrival on campus in January, Wallace has been a hot topic of conversation and the expectations have grown. McCarney said the pressure is unjust for a player who has no Division I football experience.

“We’ve got to keep in mind that he hasn’t played one snap and some of the things have got a little bit out of hand,” McCarney said. “He’s never taken that one snap where he’s got the best defenses in the country smoking after him. A lot remains to be seen if he can do it on game day, but I’ve got a lot of faith in him.”