Pregame Quotebook: Texas Tech

Iowa State head coach Dan McCarney met with the local media for his weekly Tuesday press conference. Here is a complete transcription of his comments.

Dan McCarney:

Opening comments:

"We've got all the Oklahoma game behind us, corrected the mistakes, pointed out the good things and we're continuing to get experience for a lot of kids that had not played before the season started. Eleven freshmen are getting some great experience right now, including five of those starters. I'm really impressed with the progress they're making at this stage of the season."

"Austin Flynn will return to Houston today to go back for his grandfather's funeral. He'll miss practice today and should be back tomorrow. Our deepest sympathy goes to Austin and his parents and all his family. He's handling it real good."

"The special teams captain will be Steve Paris, who starts on four of our special teams. He's from Dallas Roosevelt High School and it will be great for him to go back and be a captain in the state of Texas."

"Hiawatha Rutland had surgery today. We anticipate that going real well. I was asked earlier about the sixth year possibility. That is something we are at least looking in to. We don't know what the possibilities are. The most important thing is if Hiawatha can come back from an injury and surgery like this, and lead a healthy life again. If he can, then he has at least indicated he wants us to pursue it and see if there is a possibility of that. He did play in just three games after missing the first one. It's so early. His health is the most important thing right now. He'll get out of the hospital tomorrow and hopefully start moving towards a healthy recovery."

"Jason Berryman is going to be fine. He only played the first series the other night and went out. He's back at practice and full go. Austin Flynn is just fine. We'll get James Wright back this week. He's missed the last two games. We're very hopeful that Jordan Carstens gets back this week.

"Luke Vander Sanden is very questionable on whether he'll play this week. It's day to day with him. Thank God there is no surgery with him, especially after the two surgeries he had with the broken legs last season."

"Texas Tech is a tremendous football team. They're on the verge of breaking into the Top 25. You watch them play and have no idea why they're not in the Top 25 when they're putting up the numbers they are. They're number one in the country in scoring offense, total offense, pass offense and blew out a fine Texas A&M football team and put up nearly 60 points on them. That's a Top 25 team we'll be playing down there this week, believe me.

"Their offense is blowing the numbers off the charts and their defense is improving. We'll be facing legitimate Heisman candidates two weeks in a row, with Jason White one week and B.J. Symons the next week. It's going to be a very tough environment. They've been bowl eligible 10 years in a row. It's going to be a very tough game."

"I expect more out of my team. I want them to give more, expect more, play better and learn from the mistakes. We've lost to three teams in a row that were a combined 16-1. There is no embarrassment in that. We're losing to some outstanding football teams in the last three weeks. We've got to find a way to keep improving. We don't want this 2003 season to pass us by without us doing some positive things."

On ISU offense being best defense:

"We're not going to shut them out and we're not going to stop them. No one else has. In both road games they've had this year, they've had more than 600 yards offensively. We're not going to stop them, we know that, but we've got to control it, slow it down and hope we can do better from a turnover standpoint. Offensively, we need to stay on the field better than we have and score more points. One offensive touchdown in two games is very disappointing. We've got to score more points to have a chance to win this game."

On NC State's effort against Tech's offense:

"First of all, they've got a real good football team and defense. They were able to get some pressure without blitzing a lot of people. That's one of the keys against a guy like Symons. You have to be great with your underneath coverage and from a pursuit standpoint when the ball is dinked and dunked like it will be, and screened.

"Then you have to be great from a secondary standpoint. If our DBs don't like a game like this, they shouldn't be in football. The ball is going to be in the air all day and we know that. We have to make some plays against it."

On blitzing team like Texas Tech:

"Once in a while you have to. If the quarterback knows there is never going to be any extra guys coming at him, it makes it even tougher. We've seen everything in the first few games. We've seen defenses burned real good when they did blitz, because their receivers are so outstanding and Symons is so accurate right now. He's not missing on any throws. They're catchable almost every time he's in the pocket. It will be a great challenge."

On Symons:

"It's a great system for what he's doing and he's also got a great arm. At this time last year, Kliff Kingsbury was hot and he was a guy that everyone in the country was talking about. They went on and had a great year and were bowl champions. We were fortunate enough to win that game. But as good as Kingsbury was last year, Symons right now through five games is playing better. He's more efficient, has more yards and appears to have a stronger arm. His performance is unconscious."

On comparisons to last season's Red Raider offense:

"Their offense is scary right now, when you put up those unbelievable numbers. But it was a 3-3 game at halftime last year and we were thrilled with the defense in the first half. We moved the ball, but we knew going into that game we'd have to play great defense to have a chance to win. We were able to hold them under control. They still got yards and ran the ball better than we wanted them to. But in the end, the points they put on the scoreboard, we were very satisfied with that. I don't know if it's realistic to do that this year, because of the points they're putting up."

On recruiting recruiting class of 2000:

"I don't know if our recruiting philosophy has changed much over the years. First of all, you want to bring in players that we think fit into the system and can be successful. Yes we've made some mistakes. But you've got to limit them and contain them. You can't get too many of those, whether it's a high school player or J.C. player. We don't want to get into where we have to go out and get a lot of two-year players. We'd much rather get it to a point now and recruit kids in that are four-year players.

"There have been a few junior college players in the last couple years that didn't make it because they didn't academically qualify. It's very upsetting that happens, plus you've got a hole in that class. If you miss on a few guys, then you have some injuries, then you're into a situation we are now where we're playing 11 freshmen. It's not because they're bad, but we're a little short from a depth standpoint. If you couple those things together, then we're a pretty young team at a lot of places."

On effect of Flynn missing practice time:

"Steve Brickey will get a little extra meeting time with him before and after, because he will miss that practice. But he's so conscientious. We worked through the family and Austin. He initially thought he just couldn't leave. But we want to be real sensitive to those situations.

"The most important thing is getting piece of mind and closure when a family member passes. I think everything will work out just fine, but he will miss tonight's practice. It's very important for his grandmother and parents to be down there, and I'm supporting him all the way."

On any improvement in running game:

"It's a hard measure from last week. They are so dominant and so good. I don't want to say right now that we didn't improve at all and show any signs of improvement. Getting Bobby Montgomery back will help us. You look out there and see first- and second-rounders all over the place against that defense. That's not an exaggeration, it's a fact. It's tough to measure improvement against a type of defense like that."

"We have to clearly run the ball better this week. Hiawatha is out of the mix, so right now it's Mike Wagner and Stevie Hicks. Those guys have to do it and the guys up front have to be more consistent. We have got to sustain blocks better right now. We've got to make more things happen. The backs have to make more guys miss."

On fast scoring capabilities of Tech:

"It's quick strike. It doesn't take that long sometimes. That goes back to the system they run, the talent they have doing it and the receivers. You don't see many drops. The ball is in the air and the defensive backs are in great position, but their receivers are coming down with the ball a lot more than the defensive backs are. That's why there is no exaggeration to how good they are right now. The numbers speak for themselves."

"They take these monster splits up front and have great big physical offensive linemen that are outstanding pass blockers. I'm sure they probably spend 90 percent of their time on pass protection and not on run blocking, because they don't run that much. They're really good at what they do and have done a great job of recruiting the players they need."

On struggles on offense:

"It's hard to put your finger on it completely. You've got an All-Big 12 quarterback versus a freshman, and that's an obvious one. Losing Bobby inside didn't help, because he's such a good player. We've got two freshmen playing a lot in there.

"From an execution standpoint, we have to be better and more efficient on third down. Last year at this time, we were one of the best teams in the country on third down, and Seneca Wallace had a lot to do with that. He was unbelievable on third down. Right now we're way down from a third-down productivity standpoint."

On worries about Flynn getting hurt:

"I'm definitely concerned, because he's not shy about contact. He's not afraid to go get it and take those hits. We are concerned about it, but we can't go into it and say we can only get Austin 15 hits this week with option, scrambling or quarterback draw. We have to do what we can to move the ball, improve and put more points on the board.

"But it is a concern, obviously. Our quarterback and what we're trying to bring into our system are those Seneca Wallace-types that are really good with their feet and have a good arm."

On team's mindset after three consecutive losses:

"We're disappointed right now to have three losses in the last three weeks, but there is so much season left and so many opportunities. There is still so much character in this team. I still see a team that's hungry to come learn and be coached and improve. I don't sense any finger pointing or complaining. I sense let's do what we've got to do. Their eyes are on me and it seems like they're sitting in their chairs at attention, wide-eyed, want to learn and get better. We know there are a lot of games available, and let's keep going. Nobody in this program have gone in the tank."

On soon becoming longest-tenured coach at ISU:

"There were some days I wasn't quite sure. I guess it's something to be proud of. People that know me know that I don't worry too much about those things. What I'm looking for is why we didn't win last Saturday and what can we do to win this Saturday. Along the way to have that kind of support, have the chance to be here this long is great and contribute something positive to this athletic department and University – I'm thrilled about it."

"I still thank God many days for Gene Smith and Dr. Jischke on the front end of everything, staying with in the tough times, then for the support Bruce Van De Velde, Dr. Geoffroy and the fans have given me. So far there are no for sale signs in my yard, and I hope that continues. It's a pretty special place. I love working here."

On Red Raider defense compared to Oklahoma's:

"Unlike last week, this is a team that has given up points. They've really improved, but have given up 32 points per game versus Oklahoma and a handful of points. They're giving up quite a few yards, versus hardly any yards. They're giving up quite a few first downs, versus hardly any first downs. They're improving and there isn't anything that's going to be easy.

"We haven't exactly been lighting it up offensively lately, so there should be some challenges there. But at least you have some hope when you look at the tape. Offensively, they just don't feature the running game. It doesn't appear to be a smash mouth game when you play them. Their finesse, game and system is every bit as tough to stop as last week. Again, we've got a Heisman Trophy candidate to worry about at quarterback."

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