In part one of what I hope is a series that I have the ambition to continue, I figured we'd take a look at some of the position battles facing the team and the coaching staff over the spring and the summer. I'm going to start out with one position that is pretty well settled, but is also one of the most talented on the team.
With the graduation of four year starter Bret Meyer, the quarterback position is now what is reportedly an open competition heading into the fall. Statistics from the returners:
Arnaud: 20-37, 267 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT; 17 rushes, 18 yards
Bates: 0-0; 7 rushes, -16 yards; 5 catches, 73 yards
Tiller (High School): 98-227, 1570 yds, 12 TD, 8 INT; 128 rushes, 770 yards, 12 TD
Now, I think that anyone that's been following the quarterback position knows that Arnaud is the frontrunner and will get the reps with the #1's in the spring. As the hometown boy, he's been a local favorite for years. He's also reportedly trying to take a bigger leadership role on the team. I will say that when I've seen him different times around Ames, he's always been acting in a professional manner.
Arnaud started to receive a lot of playing time, especially during the second half of the 2007 season, despite being hurt. The coaching staff had wanted to run him a bit more, but his injury kept that from being a possibility. Offensive coordinator Robert McFarland reportedly told fans earlier this month that Bates was not ready to come into the backup role, so they had to be careful with Arnaud.
Arnaud was one of the top dual threat quarterback recruits in the nation (#6) and the top player in Iowa coming out of high school, so the talent is there. His performance against Kansas State this year proved that he could quickly adjust into a pressure environment, so there is little in the way of worries if he assumes the position as expected.
Philip Bates will enter the year as the backup quarterback, but this is how most fans around the region know of him:
Much like Arnaud, Bates came in with many accolades. As the #2 player in Nebraska and the #16 dual threat quarterback nationally, the talent is there as well. Bates got the occasional snap at QB this year, but most of the time he did little more than run the ball. Actually, just about all of the time. Defenses were ready for it, too.
Bates will get a shot, but, not much is known about how ready he is. An even bigger question, however, is how he might see the field. It was a shock that he played as a true freshman (in a move that might have been made to keep him coming to ISU after the coaching change). He's talented enough to play at wide receiver, but will he play there and be a backup QB at the same time? Could he see time at a position like safety? In my eyes, he'll work as the backup QB exclusively. Of course, if I would have had my way, last year would have been a redshirt year.
Jerome Tiller comes in as the lone QB commit and #19 dual-threat QB nationally. His offer sheet was impressive, picking ISU over Illinois, Kansas, Purdue and Texas A&M. He's expected to redshirt this year. He's very athletic and is very similar to Arnaud and Bates, but without having an extremely impressive showing or all hell breaking loose in practice, he'll be wearing the visor and holding the clipboard this fall.
My expectation is that the position shakes out as planned, with Arnaud grabbing the starting spot and Bates functioning as a backup. I'm not yet aware of any walkons to fill in at the position, but the depth chart should look the same as it does in the spring.