March 24, 2008

Arnaud and Bates ready for QB battle

A quarterback battle always takes the spotlight when it comes to spring football and that is the case, for the first time in four years, at Iowa State. The Cyclones open spring drills this week with a pair of sophomore set to duel for the inside track on being ISU's starter come August.

While someone may indeed come out of spring as the number one signal caller, it's a pretty good bet that the competition will continue into the fall. That's because Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates are both talented, skilled and intelligent. There are similarities and difference between the two so the Iowa State coaches have the tricky task of evaluating and comparing two QBs that are neither carbon copies of one another or polar opposites. The ultimate separator may indeed be the ability to make plays under fire, so both will get plenty of chances to show what they can do in live action this spring.

Arnaud is the third-year sophomore from Ames who saw his first college action last fall in both mop-up duty and scheduled stints under center for Iowa State. He appeared in six games and completed 20-of-37 passes for 267 yards with one interception and no touchdowns. Arnaud's final quarterback rating for the season - 109.26 - was an exact match to that of starter Bret Meyer. Arnaud showed the predictable up-and-down qualities of a redshirt freshman quarterback in limited duty but the 54 percent completion rate is something to build on.

Omaha's Bates played in nine games as a true freshman last season but none of his duty was as a true quarterback. He mostly played receiver and also handled the ball on a variety of gadget plays that consistently fooled no one and were stuffed by opposing defenses. Whether it was simply Bates' presence on the field that tipped off defenders or something else, Bates often had nowhere to run and nowhere to hide when he carried the football. But for the purpose of previewing the 2008 quarterback battle, the failure of those plays is a non-factor for the most part. The same is true for his key long pass reception in the fourth quarter against Iowa, one of the signature plays of the first season of the Gene Chizik era.

All eyes will be on the ISU quarterbacks this spring, but it's not like that's the only position battle or story line to follow the next three-plus weeks. has a series or Cyclone spring football preview articles cued up and ready to go today and tomorrow as our 2008 ISU spring coverage gets underway!

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