Iowa State held its annual Cyclone Gridiron Club spring football game on Saturday. A recap of what happened:
Best offensive performance: Quarterback Grant Rohach got the first turn with the first-team offense and he didn’t disappoint. The sophomore completed 22 of 38 passes for 171 yards and led the Cyclones on three of their six scoring drives. He capped one of those with an 8-yard touchdown run. The quarterback competition with Joel Lanning and Sam B. Richardson isn’t over yet. But Rohach will head into the summer with the edge.
Best defensive performance: In a surprising performance given how many key players were missing, the first-team defense forced seven three-and-outs to begin the game and finished with 12 sacks, even though a defender only had to touch the quarterback to be credited with one. Still, it was a dominating charge led by ends Cory Morrissey and Mitchell Meyers, who each totaled four sacks apiece and were constantly wreaking havoc in the offense’s backfield.
Best debut: With junior college transfer Devron Moore out because of homesickness and T.J. Mutcherson suffering an MCL injury, the Cyclones have taken some hits at safety, where they already faced the task of replacing starters Jacques Washington and Deon Broomfield. But redshirt freshman Kamari Syrie had his moments on Saturday, including an interception off Rohach. Pending Moore’s return and Mutcherson’s recovery, Syrie could end up playing a big role in the Iowa State secondary in the fall.
Notable play: Receiver P.J. Harris flashed his playmaking potential on Saturday. He took a quick hitch from Richardson on the right side, made a couple of defenders miss at the line of scrimmage, then galloped left across the field for an impressive first down. “[Harris] had the longest run of the day,” coach Paul Rhoads said. “Eighty yards to gain 18, or whatever it was.”
Developing storyline: Eleven receivers caught at least one pass in the spring game. But Quenton Bundrage was not one of them. The Cyclones targeted Bundrage, who tied a single-season school record with nine touchdown catches last season, several times, but most of the attempts were badly overthrown. And the one that hit him in the hands, he dropped. The wind had something to do with the misfires. But there were times last season when Bundrage basically disappeared from the offense. Successfully getting him the ball down the field will be paramount for the Iowa State offense to meet its full potential in the fall.
Biggest question answered: Whoever the quarterback turns out to be, he’ll have the best array of weapons surrounding him that Iowa State has enjoyed in a long time. The 1-2 running back punch of Aaron Wimberly and DeVondrick Nealy looked sharp on Saturday as they rushed for 71 yards with an average of 5.5 yards per carry. Versatile tight end E.J. Bibbs and slot receiver Jarvis West each caught eight passes. Even backup receivers Brett Medders and Harris had nice outings. The Cyclones still have to settle on a quarterback. But otherwise, they appear stocked with playmakers.
Quotable: “There comes a point that you really get concerned about timing and making sure the lead guy is getting the majority of those reps with those No. 1s. Whether I’ll announce that in April, when we get through practice Wednesday, or we’ll wait to see what happens in August. … you’ve got to remember, there’s a lot of things that could happen in May, June and July leading up to August that could change things.” -- Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads on the QB competition