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Iowa State Hopes Pistol Formation Fires Up Offense
May 09, 2013
By Wendell Barnhouse | Correspondent

2012 record: 6-7, 3-6 in Big 12, lost Liberty Bowl.

Returning starters: offense, 5; defense, 4; special teams, 2.

Top players returning: C Tom Farniok, RB James White, LB Jeremiah George, RB Shontrelle Johnson, S Jacques Washington, DE Willie Scott, P Kirby Van Der Kamp, QB Sam Richardson.

Need replacing: LB Jake Knott, LB A.J. Klein, DL Jake McDonough, S Durrell Givens, WR Aaron Horne, CB Jeremy Reeves.

In Review
Iowa State used the spring to install a new system and philosophy on offense. The Cyclones hired offensive line coach Chris Klenakis, who was offensive coordinator at Nevada when that school developed The Pistol offense. Also, Iowa State is to play faster and calls its speed package "jet tempo."

Sophomore Sam B. Richardson, who took over as the starter late last season, appears to be the quarterback for the upcoming season. He has solid running and passing skills. In The Pistol formation, he lines up four yards behind the center with the running back three yards behind the quarterback. The formation combines a number of schemes that are effective.

The Cyclones appear to have half a dozen talented running backs of various abilities. Junior DeVondrick Nealy and junior-college transfer Aaron Wimberly both have speed and should help produce more explosive plays. Iowa State could rely on its running game as the receiving corps is inexperienced.

In coach Paul Rhoads four seasons, the defense has been effective and stingy. However, linebackers A.J. Klein and Jake Knott must be replaced after starting the last three seasons. Jeremiah George will be counted to be a play maker at linebacker. Defensive end Willie Scott should be a factor on the defensive line while senior Jacques Washington and sophomore Darian Cotton will be counted on as top performers in the secondary.

Quick Slants
Running back Shontrelle Johnson missed spring practice while he was rehabbing an ACL tear. Tight ends Ernst Brun and E.J. Bibbs were hampered by injuries in the spring and were limited in practice time.

Aaron Wimberly, a junior college transfer from Iowa Western, certainly lived up to his billing as a home-run threat, displaying blazing speed and above-average vision as he rushed for 89 yards in the Cyclones' spring game.

Incumbent kicker Edwin Arceo made 12 of 18 field goal attempts and was 37 of 40 on extra points. He'll continue to compete with freshman Cole Netten for the kicking job. That's a position that has been a problem during Rhoads' tenure.

There were 151 plays from scrimmage during the psring game, and the average gain was roughly six yards. Iowa State put up 68 points, 535 rushing yards and 362 passing yards in its annual spring scrimmage.

Coach Paul Rhoads on ...
Aaron Wimberly, a junior-college running back:
"Aaron Wimberly burst on the scene much like we hoped he would. He is dynamic and fast and doesn't need much of a hole to get through and catches the ball extremely well."

The team's depth at running back:
"It's not concern about keeping people happy it's what makes us the most productive and whether that's (different formations or packages), whatever those things are, come August and in toward the 31st, we need to figure that out."

On Iowa State's program taking the next step:
"There's not one magical spot, but quarterback play has not got us to the position where we can win the nitty gritty games. I think that's a position that every program looks for a difference-maker. "It doesn't have to be the great Heisman-level talent but a difference-maker is just running a good offense and not turning it over and scoring enough points and so forth. That's a position that we have to have better play to get us into the top half of the Big 12 Conference."

2013 Schedule
Aug. 31 Northern Iowa
Sept. 14 Iowa
Sept. 26 at Tulsa
Oct. 3 Texas*
Oct. 12 at Texas Tech*
Oct. 19 at Baylor*
Oct. 26 Oklahoma State*
Nov. 2 at Kansas State*
Nov. 9 TCU*
Nov. 16 at Oklahoma*
Nov. 23 Kansas*
Nov. 29 at West Virginia*
* - Conference game.
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