"I'm pleased overall with most of the offensive execution," said McCarney, who got the balance he was looking for with Michael Wagner's 115 rushing yards and two scores. "There are still a lot of new faces out there that played a major role, and I thought all those kids did a real good job. Austin Flynn continues to improve. He's really understanding how you need to respect the football if you're going to be a starting quarterback at Iowa State."
The Cyclone quarterback now has just one turnover in two starts, with the one interception being on a tipped pass last week.
"I felt a lot more confident out there," said Flynn. "The running game helped us out a lot and made it easier for me. It gave me a little time. The offensive line came through and improved immensely. This offensive group is coming together and gelling more and more. They probably trust me a little more. It's being confident in each other."
The first-time starter made it a habit of finding veterans Lane Danielsen and Jack Whitver, hitting them a combined 10 times for 212 yards. Danielsen broke ISU's all-time career receiving yard record with five receptions for 102, passing Tracy Henderson on the list. He now has 2,077 receiving yards on 124 catches.
He picked the perfect play to surpass Henderson, too, hauling in a 59-yard touchdown pass from Flynn late in the first half.
"It feels good," said Danielsen, a former walk-on. "I really didn't know until halftime when someone came up and told me I got the record. It felt really good. I wasn't thinking about the record at all during the game. I was just trying to go out there, make plays and help the team win."
An offensive line without the services of All-Big 12 left guard Bob Montgomery, ISU still managed another decent ground output. Wagner and Hiawatha Rutland, back from a one-game suspension, combined for 171 rushing yards and scored four of the team's six touchdowns.
"Both of them did a good job," McCarney said. "I want to watch the tape to see blocking, protection and yards after contact, but from standing on the sidelines I would say Wags is our number one running back going into the game this week. But both of those kids I was real proud of. This was the first time Hiawatha played and he missed a block in protection. He just needs to get out there and play. But he ran hard and ran tough. Our running back position is the least of my worries right now."
Game one starter Stevie Hicks remained on the sideline Saturday night, as Wagner and Rutland handled the duties. As good as the offense was, the Cyclone defense was equally bad on a select few plays. Quarterback Fred Ray broke loose for 68 yards on an option keeper early in the first quarter to get Ohio on the board. Then, backup signal-caller Ryan Hawk hit Scott Mayle for 80 yards to cut ISU's advantage to 17-14 with just over four minutes remaining in the quarter. Ray would later hit Anthony Hacket on a 71-yard pass play during the third quarter.
The lapses in coverage didn't leave a good taste in McCarney's mouth.
"You're very concerned when you give up those chunks of yards," he said. "Make them earn it. They have been in the top 10 in the country in rush offense, so they know what they're doing. It's not just tricking and slipping past you. They've got a great system.
"The way they got it and how easily they got it just sickens me. I can't stand to think about it or go look at that tape, but we're going to look at that tape and get it corrected. If it's personnel, technique or a call, we're going to get it straightened out. We've got zero chance to beat Iowa or anybody in our league giving up those chunks of yards."
A lot of the mistakes could be attributed to an aggressive run defense that was set on containing a triple option attack. Ohio caught the Cyclones deep twice in Athens during the 2001 season and used a similar gameplan in surprising them this time.
"A lot of it was they're such a run-oriented team and we got into putting as many guys in the box as we can," said Jordan Carstens, who made seven tackles, two stops for loss and one sacks. "We had guys coming up and helping on the run. It can be deceiving. You're going to get beat sometimes against a team like that."
After the third big breakdown and ensuing one-yard score by Ray early in the third quarter that made it 34-20, ISU's defense settled in and eventually the offense put the game. A pair of Rutland touchdown carries finished off scoring drives of 88 and 78 yards.
"You put it all on the shoulders of your offensive line, tight ends, fullback and running back," McCarney said. "Those are the kinds of things you need to do if you're going to grow up, mature and improve. You have to experience those things and not just do it in a mock game or look at it on highlights. That's how you finish games. It's performance, attitude, believing, confidence and finishing the deal. I was real proud of the kids."
The 2-0 Cyclones play their third consecutive home game next Saturday against instate rival Iowa, and will be in pursuit of a six-game winning streak against the Hawkeyes. Kickoff is at 11:30 and the game will be televised on Fox Sports Network.
"They'll come in here ranked and I'm sure as the favorite," McCarney said. "The last five years, just like the 15 years prior to that has nothing to do with next Saturday. It's (Kirk Ferentz's) team of 2003 and my team of 2003. It's one of the great matchups in college football. I've seen it progress. It used to be the only people that cared about it were the people instate. Then it went to regional and now it has national implications. Thankfully it's going to be on where a lot of the country can see it."