Monday, January 02, 2006

Reporters' Notebooks

Susan Miller Degnan, Miami Herald: Miami coach Larry Coker's job is safe, but several of his assistants are likely gone after the loss to LSU. Also, standout Devin Hester is expected to announced Tuesday that he will forgo his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

John Riehl, Cedar Rapids Gazette: Iowa State returns 10 of 11 offensive starters in 2006, but the Cyclones have a need for speed (subscription, so story is in comments).

Brett McMurphy, Tampa Tribune: South Florida must replace five starters on offense and at least four on defense, but coach Jim Leavitt is confident the Bulls are pointed in the right direction.

John Delong, Winston-Salem Journal: North Carolina State coach Chuck Amato says the Wolfpack's victory in the Meineke Car Care Bowl "might be one of the biggest wins, when it is all said and done, this university could have."

Pete Thamel, New York Times: Maurice Clarett, who three years ago this week led Ohio State to the national title, was sought by the police in Columbus as a suspect in an armed robbery (registration).

Moisekapenda Bower, Houston Chronicle: Todd Graham, Rice's new coach, left most every Owl supporter feeling rejuvenated after his first press conference.

Stefan Fatsis, Wall Street Journal: Handicapping the Rose Bowl should be a snap. Only it's not. ... You have to be a subscriber to access this story online. Otherwise, find a copy of the Weekend Journal at your local newsstand.

Parade Magazine: The insert for Sunday newspapers announces its 2006 All-American team and has an interview with player of the year Mitch Mustain. You can also access the All-American teams for the past three years.

Jim Walsh, Arizona Republic: Rula Bula, an Irish Pub on Mill Avenue in Tempe, actually ran out of bottled beer on New Year's Eve. Yes, Notre Dame fans are in town.

1 comment:

dawizofodds said...

Cyclone speed search

ISU wants to correct inconsistency in ground attack

John Riehl
Cedar Rapids Gazette

HOUSTON — The Iowa State football team has a need for speed in 2006.

Running back is one position the Cyclones are looking to get more fleet of foot. Iowa State was inconsistent at best rushing the ball this season, and the lack of a ground game made the Cyclones onedimensional Saturday in a 27-24 loss to 14th-ranked TCU in the Houston Bowl at Reliant Stadium.

Iowa State gained 34 yards on 25 carries, 1.4 yards per carry, and quarterback Bret Meyer was the team’s leading rusher with 27 yards on 12 carries. Junior tailback Stevie Hicks, who was slowed by injury this season but said he was healthy Saturday, rushed for a career-low minus-1 yard on nine attempts.

‘‘We’re looking for more speed everywhere,’’ Iowa State Coach Dan McCarney said.

If it makes the Cyclones, who finished 7-5, feel any better, TCU (11-1) was stingy against the run all season, allowing a Mountain West Conference-best 114.6 yards per game in the regular season.

It helps the Horned Frogs to have fast all-conference defensive ends Chase Ortiz and Tommy Blake.

‘‘We have always been good against the run. We slanted up front and had some good formations,’’ TCU Coach Gary Patterson said. ‘‘They helped us out by coming out throwing. They didn’t seem to run as much as they had in other games.’’

But Iowa State didn’t run the ball a lick in its final two regular-season games, either, totaling 36 yards on 25 carries against Colorado and 56 yards on 36 attempts against Kansas.

Next season, the Cyclones will get back shifty tailback Jason Scales, who missed the 2005 campaign after knee surgery. Hicks also knows he’ll need to become more of a big-play maker.

‘‘You have to be able to move the ball running if you want to open up things for everybody else,’’ said Hicks, who finished with 545 yards on 149 rushes this season.

‘‘They sit back in coverage, because they know they don’t have to worry about us running the ball. We’re one-dimensional.’’

Iowa State should put up big numbers offensively in 2006, as 10 of 11 starters return. Left guard Kory Pence was the only senior starter this season.

Meyer will be a year older, and presumably better, with two years of starting experience under his belt. The sophomore has thrown for 4,800 yards and 29 touchdowns in his career.

His favorite target, sophomore Todd Blythe, already holds Iowa State’s single-season and career records for touchdown receptions with nine and 18, respectively.

On the other side of the ball, Jason Berryman will be back. The relentless sophomore defensive end had 12 tackles and five sacks in the Houston Bowl, earning the game’s defensive most valuable player award. Blythe was the offensive MVP.

‘‘Bret Meyer is a special young man,’’ McCarney said. ‘‘He’s a mature young quarterback who will, along with Berryman and Blythe, become three of the premier players in the Big 12 in the coming years.’’

Berryman, junior tackle Brent Curvey and junior end Shawn Moorehead will give the defense three solid building blocks. But the Cyclones will lose six starters, including three-fourths of the secondary and two of three linebackers.

Junior Matt Robertson, who had a game-high 14 tackles in the Houston Bowl, will be the only returning starting linebacker.

That’s a must, because the schedule will get tougher. Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech will replace Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M on Iowa State’s Big 12 slate.

john.riehl@gazettecommunications.com