AMES - A lack of YAC in 2007 was troubling to Iowa State head football coach Gene Chizik.
He wants his offense to improve its YAC - yards after contact - or 'Cyclone yards' as he calls it to improve on last year's 3-9 season.
"At our skill positions right now, we don't feel like we can get guys out in the open field 1-on-1 and not make guys miss," Chizik said. "We've made it very clear to our wide receivers, to our running backs, we have to get Cyclone yards.
T-R PHOTO BY MARK PAWLAK
Sophomore running back Alexander Robinson talks with reporters at Saturday’s annual media day press conference at the Jacobson Building in Ames.
"Cyclone yards are yards after contact. That's yards where you should have been tackled and you weren't."
The example Chizik used was Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and his ability to gain extra yards.
"Last year we were very, very poor at that," Chizik said. "If we had a 6-yard gain, it was a 6-yard gain and it wasn't going anywhere else. That's unacceptable."
Iowa State Football
Aug. 28SOUTH DAKOTA ST.
Sept. 6KENT ST.
Sept. 13at Iowa
Sept. 20at UNLV
Oct. 11at Baylor
Oct. 25TEXAS A&M
Nov. 1at Oklahoma St.
Nov. 8at Colorado
Nov. 22at Kansas St.
Sophomore Alexander Robinson and senior Jason Scales are the top two on the depth chart at running back this fall.
Robinson carried the load at the end of the season, averaging 24 carries and 98 yards per game over the final four games of 2007.
"I was really proud of him in the spring because he was one of the guys I say that understood how to finish a run off," Chizik said. "When I should have only got 1 yard, I'm getting 3, those things add up."
Scales - the former Valley standout - has been hampered by injuries in his time at Iowa State. His best game came last year as he had 31 carries for 115 yards and two touchdowns against Nebraska.
Even with the spread offense becoming the 'it' thing in college football, the running game still remains vital.
"With the exception of Texas Tech in this league, they're going to throw it 65-70 times a game, everybody believes you have to run the football to win big," said Chizik
The Cyclones' quarterback also will be involved in the running game. Sophomores Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates enter the start of fall practice even in the battle for the starting spot.
"With either quarterback we can run," Chizik said. "Not only can they run the football, our quarterbacks will have to run the football. That won't be a secret, at least after week 1 it won't."