Pregame Quotebook: Colorado

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

Dan McCarney:

Opening comments:

"Our MVPs for Kansas State were Casey Shelton on offense, who played about as good as he has all year; Jason Berryman on defense, who is one of the best freshmen in the Big 12; and Mike Wagner, our special teams MVP. Waags will be our special teams captain for the Colorado game. He did a tremendous job on the punt team."

"We have a couple of guys who are still questionable. Luke Vander Sanden and Nik Moser, it will be kind of day-to-day to see if they'll play this week. We originally thought it was a sprain with Moser, but he ended up cracking a bone in his foot. So it's been a longer recovery than we thought it was going to be when he first turned that ankle against Texas Tech."

"This will be the last home game for 28 tremendous seniors. There are 22 of them that contribute, 10 of them that start, eight former walk-ons in that group that I put on scholarship. They're just a fabulous group of kids. Their devotion and loyalty to this University and football program is about as good as I've been around. We really want something special for these kids in the last home game."

"Colorado still has a lot of talent. That's the two-time defending Big 12 North champs. They struggled early. Our schedule is ranked second toughest in the country and Colorado is right up there with our schedule. They've played some very good football teams. They struggled early and are playing much better lately."

"In their loss to Oklahoma, they played them the best of anybody all season long. In their loss to Texas Tech, it was a five-pointer on the road and they had a chance to win it at the end. They got a great win over a really fine Missouri team last week. They are definitely getting better, and especially on defensively in the last three weeks. A lot of their players that we played against last year are back on this team. I think they had eight starters back on defense."

"We're very impressed with Joel Klatt. He has a 65 percent completion average, 16 touchdowns to seven picks, and over 2,000 yards. As a first-year starter he is really a talent. Both of their receivers will play in the NFL. They're outstanding players and have 14 touchdowns between the two of them. I was very impressed with Calhoun and was in the bowl game against Wisconsin last year. He really has speed, quickness and talent. Then you've got to worry about Jeremy Bloom and wherever he's at – on a reverse, wide receiver, kick return guy and punt return guy. He's got that unbelievable foot speed and spirit to make him a U.S. Olympic competitor and also a real fine player in the Big 12."

"It's a very big challenge for us and we're excited about it. We'll do everything we can to get a win here Saturday. They just showed partly sunny and 48 here on Saturday, and we'll take that towards late November. So hopefully we'll get a great turnout from our fans."

On all the feats of this senior class:

"The thing that gets lost in the shuffle, struggling in recent games, any accomplishments that we've had over the last four seasons getting 25 wins, it's all been against the four toughest schedules in the history of this place. It hasn't just been Iowa State football and Iowa State schedules, it's the toughest in the history of this University. So it means it even more when you look at the teams that we've done it against and played in conference, out of conference and the ranked teams.

"Whatever accomplishments these players have had, and there are many with these seniors, it's come against the toughest schedules this school has ever known. That's what really puts meaning and teeth into records, accomplishments, wins and success. What teams, coaches and players have they done it against? Those things I won't lose sight of and really cherish the time I've had with these kids."

"But these are three great shots here in the conference. They're going to be major challenges. We'll probably be an underdog in all three games. But I like the way the team is practicing. There's a fine line between being able to put the game behind you and not move on to fast saying everything is fine. It's hard to lose and yet get prepared for the next team. I sense this team has moved on and put the Kansas State game behind us."

On Colorado's recent success:

"There's no question that if they win their last two, us in Ames and Nebraska at home, that they can still go to postseason play. He has (rallied the troops). There are quality players out there. We see a lot of the same guys that we saw last year when we played them out there and they won the Big 12 North. They've had some injuries like we have. There's no doubt they're coming back and playing better, especially on defense.

"Offensively, they've done a nice job most of the season. Their rush game is not as good as it usually is. They've been up there in the top five or six in the country, but they can throw it, catch it and are very dangerous. They're third in the conference in pass offense and very dangerous throwing the ball. We've got to be at our best and get off to a good start."

More on seniors playing last home game:

"It should be a good motivator, to know that they've been a part of some of the greatest victories this school has ever known. Unfortunately, there hasn't been any of those this year that were some of the greatest in the history of this place. But they've had a lot to do with some of those in the past.

"You think about the last time you're to walk down beside the building, walk out on that field, be in front of our fans and recapture some of those memories and thoughts of the times they've been through. Hopefully they can help recapture some of the respect that we've lost through the last few weeks. We've gained and garnered a lot of respect around the country in turning this program around, but you lose some of that when you lose games."

On not being bowl eligible:

"It's very difficult on all of us, to try and find the answers and improve and get better. You talk to our players and coaches, I don't think you ever see any excuses tossed out of here. All of us are taking responsibility collectively, just like we have when we have won and gone to bowl games.

"The finality after the game Saturday is hard to swallow, because we've been in the hunt this time of year. They bowl scouts that have been coming to Ames won't be here to watch us. That's hard. But there's a lot to play for in these last three games for the guys that are finishing their careers. And there is a heck of a lot to play for for all those guys coming back to winter workouts in January."

On Chris Whitaker's play and start against Colorado:

"He was named based on his performance from the Kansas State game. He and Brandon Brown were the two best linebackers in that game, so we're going to start both of them. We'll still rotate Matt Robertson and Joe Woodley in, but those were the two best in that game.

"You've heard me say a number of times that for C-Whit to come back from all of the physical setbacks and problems he's had and be a leader and two-time captain – as a young man it just doesn't get any better than Chris Whitaker. From all of the injuries, his athleticism has been limited from where he was when he got here to now. But his spirit, toughness, leadership, heart, loyalty and passion are as strong as ever."

On play of freshman cornerback DeAndre Jackson:

"He is really a talent and will be one of the better defensive backs we've recruited and had here. There isn't one decision being made for consideration of 2004. We're putting the best guy out there based on performance, period end of story. That's why he's out there. He's our best corner out there with Ellis Hobbs. We'll use Harold Clewis and Johnny Smith, and they'll be available. But based on practice and performance, there's no question DeAndre is one of the best we have.

"He's got a tremendous career in front of him. You've seen him make some real physical tackles for an 18-year old freshman, and he's done some real good things from a cover standpoint. Even when he got beat on a couple of things, it wasn't like it was a major breakdown. It was just a great receiver making a play over a freshman DB that was about there to make a play. We need more DeAndre Jacksons in this program, as many as we can recruit in the future."

On decision to start Waye Terry:

"He was just a little more consistent in the game the other day. Neither one of them were what we were looking for from a consistency standpoint, but he had the edge. He's got a little bit stronger arm and was close to making some big plays. So we're going to stick with him. Hopefully he'll be the guy out there for the rest of the season. I don't look to jerk guys out of games. We don't do that. I like continuity and consistency, but that's just the way it's gone. We've had some consistency and that's why you've seen some rotation there at quarterback."

On Terry's struggles early in season:

"I think his mood was good overall. It was disappointing and frustrating, but he did hang in there. There was a time when we sat down and talked. He was about as low as he's been since he's been here. We talked man to man. I said, ‘This was part of the process you've got to go through, and you've got to show us every day out there at practice we can trust you. You'll get the signal, make the right call, and get us out of a bad play if it's a bad play.'

"There's no question he has talent. I think you saw that in the game Saturday and at Nebraska in the fourth quarter. He's got an arm, can run and is a physical athlete, but it's a matter of doing all those things within the structure of the system that we have. I think he's hung in there and right now has a good look to him."

On offense at least getting some points:

"It's embarrassing, disappointing and any adjective you want to use to describe it. Two shutouts is embarrassing. I know those are two great defenses, and national top-10 defenses, but we've seen those in the past and still been able to score points. Every coach and every player on the offensive side of the ball needs to look in the mirror and say, ‘Whatever I'm giving, I'd better give more. I need to do a better job.' It's sickening to think about two games back-to-back without scoring any points.

"Hopefully we can get on the board this week, get something early in the game with a field goal or touchdown, and build on that. You can't win in this league if you don't score points. When you see some of the scores, you'd better be ready to score a lot of points to win games."

On certain players not willing to let others give up:

"I think there are a number of guys. It's hard to pick out one. Unfortunately, it's not been reflective in the scores lately. But it's hard to say this guy or that guy. We don't have a bunch of guys running around here counting days until the end of the season. I don't sense that. They are really hurt, upset and used to winning. Most of those guys know what it takes to win and how we've done it and the success we've had. My heart goes out to them. But we're the ones that can do something about it – the coaches and players in this room."

On how he's done through seven-game stretch:

"I've got to be a rock and I know that. I've got a great family and a great wife, but these are not easy times. It's hard and tough when you have won and had success, and have played for major stakes and rewards this time of year. I'm very very disappointed with this season, but have never been more determined to get this thing back where we've been. When I have an attitude like that, I make sure the people around me understand that and buy into it."

On what he's thought of fan reaction:

"That's America today. I know there are still plenty of people that believe in me and the program. But I know the bandwagon, there sometimes isn't enough room on it and sometimes there is all kinds of room on it. That's the way it goes in college football. I'm appreciative to the many people that have not deserted me or Iowa State football. I think there's still a lot of them out there."

On concerns of season ticket sales a year from now:

"It's my job to make sure the fans know we will improve and be better. If we can have some success at the end of the season, that sure helps. With all of the young guys they've seen and some of the kids coming out of redshirt, they're going to see some real fine young players on the team next year.

"It's not going to be a veteran team full of upperclassmen heavy with seniors and juniors. It will be a young team again. But it's going to be a pretty talented young team. I can't thank them enough, because our season ticket and student ticket sales are the best they've been in decades, and attendance has been fabulous. Even though it wasn't a packed house, I was thrilled at the attendance last week with the struggles we've been through."

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