McCarney Big 12 Teleconference

Iowa State head coach Dan McCarney spoke to the Big 12 media Monday via teleconference, following his team's 28-0 loss at Nebraska. The Cyclones will enjoy a bye week while preparing for a matchup with Kansas State.

Opening comments:

"We lost to another outstanding Nebraska football team. Frank (Solich) has done a tremendous job with them. They're really a complete football team. Their defense is leading the conference in just about every defensive category. I think they're nationally ranked number two or number three in some of the most important defensive categories. They're just a really fine football team. We struggled moving the ball and had some problems with our special teams. I was proud of our kids; they hung in there and fought. The final score was what it was at halftime."

"We do need an open week. It's a good time for us right now. A lot of things that you do in an open week is get your team as healthy as you can. I think we've got a chance to get some guys back, hopefully for the next game here with Kansas State a week from Saturday. We'll let them get caught up on some rest, academics and all those things that you do during an open week. Then we'll refocus our football team on the last four weeks of the Big 12 season."

On top scout-team performers, and evaluating them this week:

"The kids will be off today and they're just going to lift on Tuesday. Then we'll get some good physical, padded practices in on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We'll scrimmage some of those young guys. It's a good class of freshmen. We've had six true freshmen playing this season, three of them starting, two on defense, and one on offense. We still have 18 other guys that we're redshirting this year.

"It's a real good class. Without getting into a bunch of names, the first two that come to mind when you talk to any of the players on this team are Bret Meyer, the quarterback from Atlantic, and Todd Blythe, the wide receiver from Indianola. They are two of the better prospects we've brought in since we've been here. They weren't quite ready and we held them this year. They'll be in the hunt for a lot of playing time next year."

Any change in outlook with four games remaining:

"We're going to do all we can to finish with some real positive things. There is still half of the Big 12 season yet to play, and a lot of opportunities out there. We're very disappointed with our season so far, and we have played some tremendous football teams. We have learned a lot about ourselves and we're hoping to rally these kids and come back. We've got two games in a row at home and the last two appearances at Jack Trice Stadium for some really fine seniors that have been part of a lot of success here at Iowa State. We're going to do all we can to finish as strong as we can."

"Three of the four teams right now have winning records. Two of them could easily be nationally ranked when we do play them. Kansas State has a good chance of being nationally ranked again. Colorado is always tough and always very talented. Then we have road games at Kansas and Missouri – two teams that are playing outstanding football."

On effect this season has had on recruiting:

"We can't get into any specifics, as you know, but we're getting tremendous feedback from recruits. They know that there isn't any one season that dictates a program, or any one game. They know the foundation is very strong. Despite what has happened in recent weeks against some outstanding, ranked teams we have taken the program places it's never been. We'll continue to have a good program in place here at Iowa State."

On players returning from injuries:

"Nik Moser, our starting SAM backer, has missed the last couple games and there's a good chance he could be back. Harold Clewis has missed the last couple games and there's a good chance he could be back. We'll know a week from today if Luke Vander Sanden, our starting center, has a chance to be back. We're going to rest Bob Montgomery and Jordan Carstens this week. They've been playing the last two weeks not quite at 100 percent. Hopefully they'll be real close by next week. Those are some of the guys that have the best chance to be back."

On this season's team defense:

"I was real proud of them Saturday. Nebraska had one real good sustained drive, which was three plays and nearly 80 yards. Other than that, it was a pretty short field for Nebraska's offense. We held them scoreless in the second half and I think our kids did a lot of good things.

"We've had some kids out of the lineup on defense and two freshmen starters on the defensive line, a freshman corner playing a lot and a freshman linebacker. The numbers sure aren't what we want, but I've got to measure what we're doing with who we have out there and the effort, improvement, and consistency."

On changes to lineup between now and K-State:

"When you're struggling like we are, we're not throwing anybody out, demoting anybody or throwing them under a bus. We're going to continue coaching the kids. Their won't be massive changes with our team. We'll compete, coach, critique, evaluate and rest some guys during this open week. Then we'll put our best 22 on the field to start against Kansas State next week."

On what's needed for offensive improvement:

"We've got to do a better job. We've got to find a way to move the ball better, sustain some drives and make more plays. We're not beating ourselves. We're the least-penalized team in the Big 12 and fifth in the conference in turnover ratio. Those things sometimes show up a lot when you're losing, but they aren't happening with us. We've got to make more plays, the playmakers have to make more plays and we have to be more consistent on offense."

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