Ames, Iowa After spending four hectic months rebuilding a program stunned by Gene Chizik’s departure to Auburn, Paul Rhoads finally got a chance to roam the sidelines as Iowa State’s head coach.
Granted it was just Saturday’s spring game, which is usually forgotten by the time fall practice rolls around. But it was sweet nonetheless for Rhoads, who had never been a head coach before accepting the Iowa State job last December.
Perhaps the sweetest thing Rhoads witnessed was when his players went over to the stands after the game for an impromptu rendition of the school’s fight song.
That, Rhoads said, gave him goosebumps.
“It felt good, without question. What felt best was how they responded,” said Rhoads of his players, many of whom were hit hard by Chizik’s departure. “These kids, they love this university, they love wearing the cardinal and gold and they love coming to work everyday. As long as we can keep that mind-set, we’ll keep moving forward.”
As for Iowa State’s new spread offense, it was an up-and-down performance — but that’s typical in the spring. Cyclones quarterbacks Austen Arnaud and Jerome Tiller each shook off shaky starts with much stronger efforts in the second half.
Arnaud finished 22-of-35 for 250 yards and a late touchdown. Tiller was 14-of-24 for 210 yards, with one interception and two touchdowns.