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Archive for Saturday, October 18, 2008

Defection leaves ISU with rookie backup QB

October 18, 2008

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— By all accounts, Jerome Tiller is a strong-armed quarterback who can run, works hard and is an unselfish team player.

But even with all that going for him, Iowa State coach Gene Chizik is hoping like heck that fans never get a chance to see Tiller play this year.

Tiller, a freshman from San Antonio, became the Cyclones' No. 2 quarterback when sophomore Phillip Bates quit the team last week. He's yet to play this season and Chizik wants to keep holding him out, which would give him four years of eligibility after this year.

So unless starter Austen Arnaud gets hurt, Tiller will remain on the sideline with the coaches as Arnaud takes every snap the rest of the way.

"If that can't happen," Chizik said Monday, "then Jerome will go in and we'll go from there."

Tiller was a three-star recruit who passed for nearly 1,600 yards and 12 touchdowns and ran for 770 yards and another 12 TDs as a high school senior. He mainly has been quarterbacking the scout team, which runs the opponent's plays in practice, but also has gotten some work with the regular offense.

That work will increase now, though Chizik said the coaches won't force Tiller to try to learn everything.

"At this point in the season it's tough because we really have to give him small parts of the playbook," Chizik said.

Of course, it was never expected to get to this point.

Bates, perhaps the team's most elusive runner, had split time with Arnaud in the first four games, then did not play in the Cyclones' 35-33 loss to Kansas on Oct. 4. Chizik said he stayed with Arnaud in that game because he was playing well, but added Bates no doubt would play in future games.

Five days later, Bates' father, Phillip Sr., called Chizik to tell him his son was leaving the team.

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