Pregame Quotebook: Kansas

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.

Opening comments:

"Our MVPs for Colorado – we didn't have anybody on special teams because there wasn't anybody that was real special. On offense, Bob Montgomery was our MVP and played really well. He is back to 100 percent now with that foot, and I was real proud of his effort. Jason Berryman continues to amaze everybody around here. He had 12 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and a forced fumble. That's a true freshman out there playing like a veteran. He'll be one of the better players we'll have here at Iowa State on defense. I'm really proud of him. He seems to be having an MVP game about every week."

"Our special teams captain will be Lane Danielsen. He's already a captain, but he's been outstanding all season on special teams for us."

"Injury-wise, hopefully Luke Vander Sanden will get a little more work. He got a few plays the other day and we'll see how he responds in practice this week. We hope to get him back. Nik Moser is still very questionable. Everybody else that played in the last game should be available this week."

"Kansas is much improved. They've been very competitive in most games this year, and had a huge victory over Missouri. They had an overtime loss at Colorado when they put up 47 points and lost. It was a 16-10 game at Oklahoma State last week. They're not having any trouble moving the ball or scoring points, and are averaging nearly 30 points a game. It's another great challenge for us going on the road."

"They're not getting a lot of penalties, and are like us in that they don't beat themselves from a penalty standpoint. They clearly have been more consistent moving the ball and scoring points with their offense this year."

"It's going to be a great matchup. We've had success in recent years against these last two teams. They're having better seasons than we are right now, but it's very important to this program to maintain a winning streak over Kansas and Missouri, much like it was to try and defend the streak against Iowa this year."

"I understand the negative streak and watch that's out there. Those are things that go with a season like we've had – like how many games they've lost, how many quarters they've gone without scoring, and all of those things. I understand those, because there were all kinds of those when I got here. Then we started so many positive things. When negative streaks start because of a season like this, you've got to report on those just like you do the positive ones. I sure do understand it. We're going to do all we can to try and stop these negative streaks the last two weeks."

On this being toughest season for him as coach:

"I think so. We're no different than the fans, in that we're used to winning, too and going to postseason play. When it doesn't happen it's tough, because we put in a lot of time around here. It's been the toughest without any question. I don't forget about all of the kids that have been injured. I know it's easy to on the outside.

"It's been real hard to see all those kids go down this year. Then you see a warrior like Jordan Carstens out there. Everybody knows he's not 100 percent. At times he's almost dragging that leg when he's running to the ball. But he's going to be there again this week and again next week. The best thing he needs right now is just some rest and time away to get completely back to 100 percent (for the postseason all-star games)."

On any self doubt setting in through streak:

"Any time there are problems you want to find solutions, and that's what I try to do all the time. Could we have done a better job? What can we do a better job of? Let's make sure we don't get back into this type of season again, because we know we've been there and can get there again. We've had success. If you can do what we've done when we started this thing, I know we can do it again. This is still not what I stepped into. It's a better situation in every way imaginable.

"But let's make sure it doesn't happen again. So we look back at all of those things, reasons for the problems, reasons for the setbacks, and whether it's personnel, coaching decisions, injuries and schedule. When you throw all those things into it, it's a little clearer to me why we've had these problems."

On how difficult some decisions can be at end of year:

"I'll make those decisions after the season's over. I continue to have faith in my staff and my guys. It was an assistant for 19 years, and that's a long time of being an assistant. I always wanted my head coach and the people I worked for to have faith and confidence in me. I think that's what this staff is working towards right now.

"But there are tough decisions on this job every day. There are only 117 Division I coaches and that's not very many. It's not for the weak at heart, weak of mind and guys that can't handle adversity. Every day I'm in here, I've got to make decisions and some of them are tougher than others. But I'll continue to evaluate everything in this program the last couple of weeks."

On what nucleus of coaching staff is, and who could be back:

"I wouldn't get into that right now. I'm going to continue to evaluate everything in the program, the job I've done, the job my coordinators have done, the job assistants have done and the job players have done. We go through all those things. I'm real big on details like that, and will continue to evaluate.

"The focus right now is to do all we can to win these last two games. That's really what it is. Let's put ourselves in a position. We've got a team that's trying to go to a bowl game by beating us this week. We've got a team that's already bowl qualified and we're going on regional TV the next week. So we want some good things to pull out of these last two games – for recruiting, the program, young guys and all of us that have gone through this tough year."

On fans that demand changes be made:

"There is no doubt that when you struggle like we have this year, everybody says, ‘Get rid of the head coach, get rid of assistants, run them out of here.' But I remember five victories over Iowa, three bowl games, 23 wins in three seasons, four wins over Missouri, three over Kansas, top 25 for a number of weeks and top 10. Those things were unheard of for this program since Earle (Bruce) was here in the ‘70s.

"This is the profession and livelihood that we're in – what have you done lately, how many games have you won lately and how many times have you made us feel good by winning a football game? I know that and knew that when I got in as a grad assistant in 1975, and I sure know it after being a head coach for nine seasons."

On difficulty of kids playing final two games with no bowl possibilities:

"There has been a real payoff and reward for those guys in recent years for working hard, lifting hard, running hard, going to meetings, practicing hard, being accountable, taking care of your behavior off the field and all of the things that we preach and teach in the program. Now all of a sudden it's not here. That's another hurdle that we've got to get over and mountain we need to climb from a mental approach, because these kids have been used to that and playing for a lot of things at the end of the year."

On what holder Casey Baldwin has brought to the team:

"You talk about an unsung hero and that's one of the classic examples. I don't know that there are many holders, if any in the country, that that's all they do when they're on scholarship. I don't know that I'm going to go out and offer a lot of scholarships to holders in the future.

"He came in and was on the baseball team. He contacted Mike Woodley and Woody came to me. Here's a guy that's a real good athlete and good baseball player, but he wants to be a holder. He tried a little punting and PAT/field goal, but that wasn't his forte. But holding is what he's done. I felt strong enough about him that I put him on scholarship because he's done that his whole career here. He's definitely spent some time on scholarship, and I think he feels like he's been taken care of by the program.

"That's a tough job. I wish he was a little faster, because we might have more fakes back there available rather than just holding. We tried that once against Nebraska and that'll be the last time we try that. That's one of the ugliest fakes I've ever seen in college football. He's really done a great job, is a team guy all the way and loves this program. He'll go on and tell his kids and grandkids about his time spent in the Iowa State program."

On perception of fans that this team has quit on season:

"All I can tell them is that I disagree. I don't think any towels have been thrown in and I don't think anybody's quit around here. If that's the perception or their evaluation, I disagree and am sorry that there is that perception out there. I don't sense that at all.

"Have we played great football week in and week out? No. Have we done a fantastic job of coaching week in and week out? No. We've left a lot to be desired, and I've got to do a better job just like every coach and player in this program. But has a towel been thrown in? I haven't seen that at all. I sure hope that perception doesn't appear out there in these last two games and maintain itself."

On importance of keeping Austin Flynn's confidence:

"He does have a lot of that to go along with his ability. His arm strength is not quite as strong as Waye's, but he's done some good things. I think our fans have seen that he has a lot of potential as a quarterback, now and for the future. We need to make sure we don't lose his focus and confidence, and just coach the heck out of him. He needs to keep an edge and understand he can be in the game at any time. I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the game this week, regardless of what happens with the score. He's practicing well and doing some good things. We'll start Waye, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the game."

On how pep talks may have changed throughout year:

"It didn't change early in the season and we had some wins early. You can't go into a locker room or meeting after a practice or game, and try to pull something out of a book and be somebody you're not. I just talk from the heart. Sometimes it's things they may want to hear and other times it may not be. But I'm going to be who I am, because that's what they hired me to be.

"That's one of the real keys – making sure people understand you, believe in you, trust you and respect you. You lose some of that when you're losing games probably, but I'm not going to change those kinds of things. We all need to do a better job."

On what Kansas is doing different this season:

"It's a combination of things. There are a number of seniors and juniors that are playing, plus they have some J.C. guys from the last two years that are playing some. Then they do have some freshmen kids that are really playing well. Coach Mangino has injected confidence into those kids that they can believe.

"It hasn't been a long drought for Kansas, because they won 10 games not long ago when I was still here, coaching against Glen Mason. There hasn't been a long drought and there has been tradition at Kansas of winning. Coach Mangino has been at Kansas State and Oklahoma, two tremendous programs, and has brought that attitude and spirit to the field."

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