Meyer helps Iowa St. prepare for Ohio

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 5, 2003

AMES, Iowa -- Bret Meyer has been a key figure for Iowa State this week, and he won't play a single down in Saturday's home game with Ohio University.

Meyer assumed the role of the Ohio quarterback in practice. His job was to give the defense the best simulation possible of an offense unlike any other the Cyclones will face this season.

Iowa State is 3-0 against Ohio under coach Dan McCarney, but the Bobcats' flexbone offense has given the Cyclones problems each time.

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''We've never seen anything like it,'' nose guard Mike Leaders said. ''It's completely different than anybody else's offense in the nation. It takes a lot of work, a lot of walk-throughs to be able to get everyone in the right gaps.''

The Ohio offense grew out of Fisher DeBerry's wishbone at Air Force. Ohio coach Brian Knorr was a quarterback at Air Force in the mid-1980s and worked at Ohio under former coach Jim Grobe, once an Air Force assistant.

It relies on running and deception behind a widely spaced line. The Bobcats don't throw much, but they often can surprise opponents for big gains when they do.

''You have to be assignment sound and just be smart,'' defensive back Marc Timmons said. ''Because they lull you to sleep. Run, run, run, and the next thing you know, it's a play action pass and guys are cut loose.''

Iowa State has seen that before. In a 31-28 victory at Ohio two years ago, the Bobcats scored fourth-quarter touchdowns on passes of 31 and 53 yards, the second thrown by a halfback to a wide open receiver.

There's not a more sinking feeling for a defensive back then to glance to the side and see a receiver running all by himself.

''As a DB they say you have to have a short memory. You've got to forget those things,'' Timmons said. ''But as it's happening, you're like, 'Oh my God.' ''

The Cyclones held on in that game by keeping the ball for the final 5:25.

''They know what they're doing. They have a great system,'' McCarney said. ''We fought for our lives to get out of there with a victory.''

Iowa State will face the Bobcats with a new starter at defensive end. Freshman Jason Berryman is replacing Tyson Smith, sidelined for the rest of the season with a broken leg.

Berryman is the Cyclones' fastest defensive lineman and has impressed the coaches with his aggressiveness and work ethic. But he's still raw.

''There's a lot more to it than speed,'' McCarney said. ''I'm sure Ohio University is looking forward to blocking a true freshman instead of a three-year starter.''

Ohio alternated two quarterbacks in a 17-3 season-opening victory over Southeast Missouri and eight different players ran the ball. The Bobcats outrushed their opponent 227-67 in winning their opener for just the third time in 25 years.

Iowa State is hoping to be more productive on offense after sputtering in last Saturday's 17-10 victory over Northern Iowa. Knorr said quarterback Austin Flynn showed some athleticism and he was impressed with Iowa State's receivers.

''Their wideouts are as good as anybody we'll play this year, including Marshall,'' Knorr said. ''They've got people who can make big plays, so we'll be challenged.''