AMES — The final score was Gold 41, Cardinal 27.
Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads might not have known that following the Cyclones' spring scrimmage Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium in front of nearly 10,000 fans.
For Rhoads, the final score was unimportant. The progress he saw on the field after 15 spring practices was what mattered.
"Good and bad on both sides of the ball as there usually is when you go against yourselves," Rhoads summarized. "You are never satisfied.
"There are certain spots I would've liked to have gotten further along with and certain spots maybe we overachieved at and that would be true of individuals as well."
What pleased Rhoads the most was from Day 1 to Day 15, the Cyclones were intense.
On the field Saturday, if anything shined, it was the running backs, and especially sophomore DeVondrick Nealy.
Nealy, carrying the ball for both the Gold and Cardinal squads, rushed 18 times for 142 yards and a pair of scores.
"I think I did OK," said Nealy, who was fourth string behind James White, Shontrelle Johnson and Jeff Woody last season. "I really think I left some stuff out on the field. There are still a lot of things I need to get better at ... trusting my linemen and them getting the job done and doing the things I need to do to be a better runner."
The Cyclones displayed a new emphasis on the pistol formation brought into the fold when Rhoads hired former Nevada offensive coordinator Chris Klenakis from Arkansas this past offseason to coach his offensive line. With the quarterback closer to the line of scrimmage and the running backs lining up behind the QB, Rhoads liked what he saw from his deep group of backs all spring. That includes Iowa Western transfer Aaron Wimberly.
At 5-foot-9, 173 pounds, Wimberly showed his quickness with 15 carries for 87 yards.
"I have felt the running back position overall ... if I were to say one position group had the best spring I'd say it was the running back position," Rhoads said.
The Cyclones ran 104 running plays for 535 yards Saturday in a game that saw no punts or kickoffs.
How ISU utilizes that deep running group is something Rhoads said his offensive staff must figure out by the Cyclones' opener against Northern Iowa on Aug. 31.
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"It's not a concern about keeping people happy, it is what makes us most productive," Rhoads said.
And after a slow start, Rhoads felt quarterbacks Sam Richardson and Grant Rohach, 1-2 on the depth chart, accounted for themselves well.
"It was definitely not my best day," said Richardson, who threw a pair of touchdowns after a first-quarter interception. "I think that is the main thing is I'd rather seen a better start."
Rohach's day was highlighted by a 41-yard pass to P.J. Harris.
"Altogether I feel good about the two quarterbacks we have to go out on that field and lead the team," Rhoads said.
On the defensive side of the ball, defensive end Willie Scott had a big game, highlighted by the interception on Richardson.
"I told our defensive staff that guy (Scott) has to have a big year for us. ... He showed that ability today," Rhoads said.