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Archive for Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cyclones’ next QB shines

Red-shirt freshman Arnaud solid in victory over Wildcats

November 10, 2007

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— Iowa State got a glimpse of its future quarterback Saturday, and coach Gene Chizik liked what he saw.

Red-shirt freshman Austen Arnaud, the kid from Ames who has been groomed to take over for Bret Meyer in 2008 and beyond, was 5-of-7 passing for 130 yards in Iowa State's 31-20 win over Kansas State. Arnaud, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound bruiser, also showed the ability to get out of the pocket, picking up a key first down with a 17-yard run.

The Cyclones have wanted to work Arnaud into the rotation all season, but a foot injury last month kept that plan on ice.

Arnaud finally felt healthy Saturday, and he displayed flashes of the talent that had former coach Dan McCarney so excited when Arnaud arrived on campus.

Senior Bret Meyer will get the start - his 47th for the Cyclones and his final one at Jack Trice Stadium - when Iowa State (2-8 overall, 1-5 Big 12 Conference) entertains Colorado (5-5, 3-3) in the home finale today.

But Arnaud will likely play as much as he did against Kansas State.

Arnaud ran close to 20 plays on Saturday, rotating with Meyer.

"I thought it was a good twist to be able to use two quarterbacks, both of whom do things similar, but they do have some differences," Chizik said.

Arnaud was Iowa player of the year at Ames High in 2005, throwing for 1,417 yards and 13 touchdowns and running for 543 yards and 10 scores. He had played a series here and there earlier this season, but Saturday was the first time Arnaud had been asked to play a significant role.

On his first series, Arnaud kept the drive alive with a run that pushed the Cyclones out of the shadow of their own goal post.

He then hit Marquis Hamilton for 35 yards and Alexander Robinson for 25 on back-to-back plays, and Robinson later scored on a three-yard run to cap a 90-yard drive.

In the fourth quarter, Arnaud found Todd Blythe for a 51-yard reception that set up a field goal.

Arnaud completed his first five passes, and threw for more yards than Meyer did in 19 attempts.

"He got out there in some critical times and made big plays," Blythe said. "That's just a taste of what (people) are going to see for the next 2-3 years."

Arnaud isn't the only freshman in Iowa State's young backfield who is raising fans' eyebrows.

Robinson, a freshman who rushed for 149 yards in a loss to Missouri, scored twice against Kansas State and caught five passes for 75 yards.

Robinson started the season-opener, but quickly fell behind J.J. Bass and Jason Scales on the depth chart. But Chizik has been searching for a No. 1 back all season, and he decided to give Robinson a chance to earn the job.

So far, it looks as though Robinson has won that spot.

"One thing Alex has got is, he's ... got the ability to make people miss, which I thought we were lacking," Chizik said. "He's got a little bit more speed than maybe some of the other guys."

Arnaud still has plenty of work to do in recognizing and reading defensive coverages, but Chizik said he's happy with how Arnaud managed the team.

"He's got to work on things that young guys across the country have to work on," Chizik said. "Saturday I was really proud of Austen. I thought he did some good things."

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