Dan McCarney Big 12 Teleconference

Iowa State head coach Dan McCarney spoke to the Big 12 media Monday via teleconference, looking ahead to the Northern Iowa game by making some personnel announcements. Included was some news at offensive line, where Matt Bockes and Luke Vander Sanden will be taking on new roles.

Opening comments:

"Like everyone else in the country, when you haven't played a game, you're excited and anxious to get on the field and find out how good we might possibly be. It's only five days until kickoff and we're very much looking forward to it. We've had a very productive camp. We've gone through more heat than we usually have in the Midwest, but we haven't had any heat-related problems whatsoever.

"I'm anxious to watch this team play this Saturday night. We've got a good mix of experience, veterans and some real young guys that are going to be playing an important role on this team. Northern Iowa is an outstanding I-AA program. Since 1982 they've beaten a total of eight Division I teams, including Iowa State twice. Mark Farley is an outstanding coach and I've known him for a number of years. He's a tremendous leader."

On naming starters at tight end, defensive end, cornerback and kicker:

"Brett Kellogg will start the game at tight end, but like we've talked about all along, we'll play three tight ends. Brett will take the first snap of the game.

"At defensive end, Cephus Johnson has had a real good camp. He, Korey Smith and Beau Klaffke have had a good battle. I'm leaning towards Cephus right now as being the starter.

"With (Tony Yelk and Adam Benike), it's going to go all this week. That's great for both of them, especially Tony because he's battling with a guy who was All-Big 12 last year. We'll continue that battle and are not going to name a starter because it's so close right now. They're both real quality kickers for us.

"It's still a good battle (at cornerback), one a senior in Harold Clewis and the other a junior in Anthony Forrest. We'll continue that one. We've got a very important week of practice and try to get everything finalized in the next couple days."

On how to quantify success this season:

"I wouldn't share with the public the goals we've set for the program and team. We just want to continue to build on the foundation that's in place right now. We've got 23 wins over the last three seasons and the three bowl games, along with academic improvement and overall behavior of the program through the last three years. Then just having the courage and guts to continue to change history at this place. We've done a lot of that already, but still have a long ways to go.

"Again, we're going to have a phenomenal, challenging schedule with five bowl teams coming into Jack Trice, four of them in the top 10 last year and three in the top five already this year. And we have some real tough road games."

On de-emphasizing the strength of the schedule:

"We got into this thing without a whole lot of surprises from a scheduling standpoint. I had one year in the Big Eight before we blended into the Big 12. It's an amazing conference. We all knew then that we're not ducking or hiding from anyone, and that it's going to be a tremendous challenge every year. That should bring out the best in players and coaches, when you play the teams we do."

On any changes in Austin Flynn since announcement:

"I think he's taking it a day at a time, trying to get his game ready, and not feeling like the whole world and every play he has to come out and be an All-Big 12 performer. That's not realistic. He brings a great workman-like attitude and work ethic to the practice field. None of us know what he's going to do on game night, because he's never played a down of college football. He spent all of the spring and most of two-a-days going against our number one defense and that gets you as ready as you possibly can."

On Stevie Hicks:

"He is fine and hasn't missed a beat since earlier in camp when he missed a few practices. He's doing real well and will start the game Saturday night. Michael Wagner is number two and Brian Thompson is number three. We're going to start four freshmen on offense – Aaron Brant at right guard, Austin Flynn at quarterback, Stevie Hicks at running back and Ryan Kock at fullback. It's kind of an unusual situation, but we've got a lot of faith and confidence in those kids."

On bigger role for fullbacks:

"We're not giving out game plans before we play in five nights, but we have a lot of trust in him. If we didn't feel good about Ryan Kock, we would not have moved Joe Woodley over to that WILL linebacker spot for his senior year. We've got great faith in Ryan and he's one of the better fullbacks we've recruited since we've been here. We really look forward to him having an important role in our offense this year."

On replacement for the injured Bob Montgomery:

"We've worked a number of guys in there and are definitely going to start Matt Bockes at center against Northern Iowa. Luke Vander Sanden, who has played center and guard throughout his career here, will start the game at guard. Luke didn't take his first snaps at guard when Bob Montgomery got injured in the scrimmage. He's been working center and guard all of camp, so that's an easy move for him. Matt Bockes has played center and guard his whole career."

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