Paul Rhoads gives mixed reviews of spring game


Redshirt junior defensive back Sam E. Richardson made one tackle for the game, assisting in the Cyclone’s defensive performance. Iowa State’s homecoming game against Toledo on Oct. 11 ended in a victory for the Cyclones, 37-30.

Max Dible

Iowa State’s spring game drew 7,500 fans. From the spring game, ISU coach Paul Rhoads drew a few conclusions.

Some of those conclusions were positive, some were less so, and one in particular provided the overarching theme of both the day and spring practices in their entirety — the Cyclones have quite a piece yet to go before they’re ready to take the field at Jack Trice for real.

“I thought there was a lot of energy on the field today,” Rhoads said. “We still have a long way to go with what we are working to accomplish offensively and defensively.”


Rhoads was more complimentary of the defensive unit as a whole than he was of the offense.

“I thought as a defense, they tackled well,” Rhoads said. “I thought they limited space that the offense had to work with, and that’s something critical to our success as we move forward in this league. Whether it be run game space or quick pass game space, it’s something that’s been a priority to us.”

The defense of both squads combined to record six sacks, two interceptions and one 55-yard touchdown after Darian Cotton, who was injured later in the game, picked off a pass and took it to the house. Cotton received an X-ray on his thumb, which did not show a break of any kind.

In all, the two defenses surrendered a grand total of 33 offensive points, including three touchdowns and four Cole Netten field goals. Cornerback Sam E. Richardson patrolled the defensive backfield, tallying five solo tackles and two pass breakups, while junior college transfer Demond Tucker displayed his skill set for the ISU fans for the first time on the defensive line.

Tucker, like expected starter at middle linebacker Jordan Harris, came to Iowa State from Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi. He was the No. 3 ranked defensive tackle by ESPN in this year’s junior college transfer class. Tucker recorded one tackle for loss and broke up one pass.

“I got a lot on me,” Tucker said. “So everybody [is] expecting a lot and I’m putting everything I got out there, so I’m going to be great.”

An offensive showing

Rhoads was less impressed with his offense, particularly the play of his starting quarterback and the two young running backs who were featured on Saturday.

“Offensively, we’ve had too many balls batted down and some of the stuff we’re trying to do as an offense, that can’t take place,” Rhoads said. “[I was] not pleased overall with Sam [B. Richardson] or Joel [Lanning’s] completion percentage as it ended up, but Grant [Rohach’s] was fantastic.”

Richardson’s accuracy was sub-50 percent on the day, as he completed only 11-of-23 passes for 145 yards to go along with one touchdown and one interception. Rohach was far more successful, posting a 13-of-18 mark for 186 yards, one touchdown and one pick of his own.

Despite what the head coach described as the backup’s best day of the entire spring, Rhoads added that it will have no effect on the depth chart. Richardson was the starter coming into the spring game and remained the starter coming out of it.

Another area of intrigue was the running back position. The Cyclones struggled mightily to move the ball on the ground last season due to a lack of physicality. The same problem persisted throughout the spring and into Saturday’s public scrimmage.

“We’ve got to run more physical and behind our pads more,” Rhoads lamented. “We miss Martinez Syria right now, I think that’s obvious. He’s the one true guy that moves the pile. Mike [Warren] and Tyler [Brown] are capable of that, and in my opinion did not do a good enough job of that today.”

Warren netted 41 yards on the ground via eight carries, while Brown tallied only 22 yards on the same number of backfield touches. Brown did add a 45-yard touchdown through the air, however, but it came against defensive backups. Clifford Kwaw-Mensah led the team in rushing with 50 yards, scoring the only touchdown on the ground, but also did so against backup defensive players.