Pregame Quotebook: Nebraska

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:

"The season is going fast, with only five regular season games left. We work year-round for the opportunities we get during the season. It seems to be going real fast."

"Our MVPs for the Texas game were Lane Danielsen on offense, Jason Berryman on defense, and Jack Whitver on special teams. They all did a real good job in that loss to Texas. Our special teams captain for Nebraska will be Jack Whitver. He continues to give this team as much as he possibly can, whether that's on offense or special teams. We put him in the other day for an injured guy on the kickoff team and all he does is go down there, make two tackles and pin them inside the 20-yard line. He finds a way to make plays."

"Harold Clewis and Nik Moser will be questionable for this week. I don't know if they'll be ready to go. They're day to day. Dominique Flower won't be ready. He dislocated his thumb in practice the other day. It's a compound dislocation. We'll look to redshirt him this year. He played just a handful of snaps and then the injury happened. Hopefully we'll get this year back. There's a good chance that will happen."

"Jordan Carstens will be ready. He's still not 100 percent, but he wants to play. He's definitely better than he was last Tuesday at this stage, and he'll be back. What a great impact he has when he's on the field."

"Nebraska is an outstanding football team. They're a physical, veteran team with 15 starters back and most of the backups. They're playing really good football. Defensively, they're blowing it off the charts right now. They're leading the league in every category. They're nationally ranked in every defensive category. They're leading the nation with 29 takeovers. They're doing a great job of jumping all over the offenses. It's really hard to find first downs out there. They are really playing great defense."

"Offensively, they have many of the same players we saw last year. They have a new coordinator in Coach Cotton. He's calling the plays as I understand it. Right now they're really executing well. We don't expect 25 to 30 throws in this game. They want to come out and bang you, beat you up and be physical with you with their offense. They're very physical coming at you. Then Jammal Lord can go play-action with you and come off the option or any play. His accuracy and consistency is better throwing the ball this year."

"It's a tough environment. We have not had any luck over there as a football team. We've got to do all we can to get off to a much better start than we have the last few times we've been over there. It's another great challenge. The five teams we've lost to over the last five weeks are 29-6. These are some pretty good teams we're losing to. We don't accept losing and don't like it, but we also know we're in the midst of a schedule that's almost unheard of in the history of this place."

"Dating back to Nebraska last year, 13 of the 17 teams that we've played were either ranked at the time we played them or shortly after we played them. That's one of the reasons we're struggling a bit right now. We're coaching as hard as we can, the kids are practicing as hard as they can, and the attitude is still good. We'll continue putting ourselves in the position to win as many of these games as we can."

On difference in Nebraska this season:

"Defensively they're back to the Blackshirts – what you saw all through the years, what I saw in my first few years in this league, what I saw when I was in the Big 10 coaching against them, and what I saw when I watched them on television growing up as a kid. They're all over you, physical, making plays and are swarming to the ball. You saw some of that last year, but they didn't have the kind of year they normally do defensively. That's the biggest difference.

"They're not turning it over much offensively. Lord is playing with great confidence. Their entire team just plays with great confidence. The intensity, emotion, confidence, effectiveness and the way that they have normally played every year I've been here – you sure see that. They weren't dogs last year. They still had a lot of talent. But they obviously have improved since a year ago."

"They're leading the nation in time of possession, which means their defense is getting off the field and their offense is holding onto it. So both sides of the ball are complementing each other real well, and their kicking game is excellent again this year. It's really a good football team, and a major challenge."

On Stevie Hicks' re-emergence:

"He's definitely 100 percent now. Imagine one of your large toes all swollen and anytime you step or walk it hurts, much less running and pushing off it trying to accelerate. He was limited for a while. But you saw him Saturday in that second half at 100 percent. That's what we've seen the last couple weeks. Mike Wagner will start again, but it was almost 50-50 in the game last week in plays. I would expect at least that this week. Now that Stevie's 100 percent, he'll play a lot every week. He ran hard, made guys miss, moved the pile and ran over some guys. All of those things we have seen before from Stevie when he was healthy, we saw again on Saturday."

On Nebraska's defensive scheme:

"It's a very different scheme from last year, and yet almost the same players we saw last year. It's very different. They're attacking. Some of the same things they're doing defensively are not very different than what we do defensively. So we're hoping the time we have spent against each other in the past will help us."

On confidence after win over Huskers last fall:

"I'm glad we're taking a team over there where some guys have experienced a win over Nebraska for the first time since I've been here. We know how tough this game is going to be. We know how well they're playing, how much confidence they have, and the way they've jumped all over us. It's been embarrassing the times we've gone to Lincoln. We've got to do all we can to try and make this a four-quarter game and not dig ourselves a hole like we did Saturday against Texas in the first half."

On problems Lord presents:

"He's strong, more accurate throwing the ball than he was a year ago, and is a tremendous running back when he runs with it. He's a senior playing like he's going after that Big 12 Championship, and going after some of the things they missed out on last year. He's really playing good football. There are so many great quarterbacks in the league this year, and he's one of them. He's playing really good football."

On impact of injuries:

"We've had 19 kids get hurt this year, 18 in the two-deep and nine starters. Who are we kidding? Whether you're at Miami or Iowa State, that's a lot of injuries and guys that have missed game time. When you start pulling those guys out of the lineup, it's going to hurt your football team. It's good to get some of those guys. There are six or seven of those kids that we can't get back this year, but some of those other guys are getting back in the lineup. We've got an open week next week, in case somebody can't play this week. Then maybe we can go into that last month of the season as healthy as we've ever been."

On look at defensive end with Curvey's move outside:

"With Jordan being able to come back and (Tim) Tebrink coming back over to give us some depth there, then Brent Curvey and Cephus Johnson can man that defensive end job. We'll split those guys like we did last week."

On young team playing first game in Lincoln:

"All we can do is tell them what it's going to be like. We showed them the stadium yesterday in the scouting report. Mike Grant, who played there, is in charge of the Nebraska scouting report as he has been since he's been here. He tells them what it's like. But I don't think you really understand it until you're over there, hear it and see it. But the game is still played between the lines. I don't want any of my 70 guys looking in the stands or watching the video board, unless it's to watch a replay to learn what happened. Keep your tunnel vision on the game, on the field with your teammates and play your responsibility."

On Austin Flynn's learning experience:

"Hopefully he appreciated the opportunity he's had, and to get back in there and play again and be the leader of that offense. I'm sure he missed it while he was out and enjoyed it while he was back. The three scoring drives that he led us to are something he's got to build on.

"I think he learned not to take anything for granted. You have to perform. This is a business. It's still a college game and a game, but we've got to make decisions based on performance. He's got to be consistent and make plays. I don't expect him to be an All-Big 12 guy this year, but don't go back and make some of the mistakes he made earlier this year. He's got to learn from his mistakes, which I think he has, and go out there and lead."

On Bob Montgomery's approach to season:

"He's gone through an awful lot. He has given so much more to the program than this program could ever have given to him. I hope that all of our kids come out of here with a great experience, remembrance of their career and that they do learn lessons they can apply to life beyond the football field. He is a special young man. He'll be a guy doing surgery one day as a doctor. Whatever direction he goes, he'll be a great success. He's meant so much to us. What an opportunity for him to go back home and have a chance to hopefully win a football game."

On negative fan feelings about season's turn of events:

"I don't disagree with their disappointment. We felt like after seven games we would have a better record than we have right now, regardless of the schedule. Hopefully they have a lot of faith and confidence in me as the leader of this program. We have still brought this program places it's never been before. We're not sitting around watching ESPN, replays of movies or ESPN Classic games. We're trying to win football teams. We don't see our families much or wives much as is the case with many coaches this time of year. We're not in a relaxed mode. We always try to do everything we can to improve and the success going in this program. I want them to know this program is in great hands."

On how Mizzou knocked off Nebraska this season:

"Sure, the only loss they've had all year long, you're going to look at that one. First of all, they played outstanding physical. Missouri is a much-improved team and is in the hunt for just about everything in our conference right now. Missouri matched the intensity, the emotion, the effort and enthusiasm that Nebraska brought to that game. And then they made some more plays, whether it was a routine play that they executed, or tricked them on a few plays. Missouri matched all of Nebraska's things, then made a few more plays. That's how they beat them."

On Curvey's play as a first-year player:

"He did some darn good things out there against Texas as a true freshman. He's not real tall. That's why a lot of teams in Texas did not recruit him. But he's got a motor, good athleticism and loves to play the game. As I said before, we can not bring in enough players like these freshmen. They're out there for a couple different reasons. Of course they have ability, but they also have toughness, the intangibles you're looking for, mental toughness, and none of them are curling up out there looking for a place to hide."

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