Pregame Quotebook: Missouri

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:

"We named our MVPs for Kansas. Casey Shelton was our offensive MVP and played really well in the game on offense. We have had some offensive struggles and he has played consistent for us. Jason Berryman had another phenomenal game, with 16 tackles, a sack and tackle for loss. Over the last five weeks he has been our MVP on defense, and frankly it hasn't been close. He's really a special player. Michael Wagner is our special teams MVP."

"Our special teams MVP will be Matt Bockes. It's his last game at Iowa State. He has been an unsung hero that's done so much for our program as a snapper on special teams."

"From an injury standpoint, the only one we know that won't be available is Nik Moser. He has been out for a long time. Unfortunately, the crack in his foot, the bone has not come back good enough for him to play this week. Anybody else that's been out over the last two or three weeks has a chance to be ready."

"Luke Vander Sanden got about 18 snaps in last week and will play more this week. He's holding up and it's great to have him back. We miss him. He's one of our best offensive linemen and has missed most of the season, but he'll get to play more this week if he holds up in practice."

"We have a few seniors going to postseason all-star games. Jordan Carstens is playing in the East-West Shrine Game on January 10th and Senior Bowl on January 24th. JaMaine Billups has accepted two invitations. He'll play in the Blue-Grey Game on December 25th and the Gridiron Classic in Orlando, Fla. It's a great opportunity for both of them. We're hoping to get two, three or four more seniors in games. It's a work in progress."

"The indoor facility is going real well. We got behind a few weeks, but we're catching up now and I think things are going real well. It's exciting to see how that thing is taking shape. Sometime in January we will get in there for winter workouts. They've got to get the roof done, another layer of roof on, both ends of the indoor done and go in and paint the whole thing. The last thing they'll do is put the turf in. It'll be a fantastic addition to the program, University and athletic department, and really good for football."

"Our banquet is December 7th here in Ames. We're going to name two of our awards after two people that mean a lot to us, Ennis Haywood and Pete Taylor. That'll be in place forever here at Iowa State."

"Missouri is a tremendous football team. They're already bowl eligible. They lost a game last week playing for the Big 12 North championship. They're a veteran team. Most of that team is back from last year, including all of the offensive starters. Brad Smith is one of the best quarterbacks in the country. It's easy to see how they're winning when you watch them on tape. They've got talent, depth and playmakers."

They're third in the league in turnover ratio and penalties. They don't beat themselves. They're undefeated at home. It's a great opportunity for us. ABC is doing this game. We're going in there trying to win this football game."

More on facing Missouri:

"It's a great opportunity. Based on the last two nights of practice, the kids are not going around worrying about what we didn't do this year and could have done. They're anxious to play a game on television and finish a heck of a lot better than we have the last few weeks.

"There is some finality to it. All of the underclassmen know they're done until March and all of the seniors may not put the pads on again period. There is some finality to this last game. It's their last Big 12 game. A lot of those seniors had a lot to do with us bringing success back to the program. So it's a very important game for this program and football team."

On this having a bowl-game feel for ISU:

"With a bowl game mentality, it usually means you have had a lot of success, which we haven't. We're not going to go to a bowl game this year, but it is the last time we're playing. Who are we kidding? We'd like to feel real good coming out of this last game, and have a chance to win and leave a real good taste in our mouths for the future. We want something positive to build on for our underclassmen coming out of this last game."

On need to re-establish running game and solve quarterback woes next year:

"We want to do a heck of a lot better job running the football. We established that in my first year here, that we were going to run the football. That makes it even more disappointing when we can't do it now.

"There were a few injuries in the program. We've had 19 of them. If Colorado's fortunate enough to Nebraska, we will have just played 10 bowl eligible teams. I've never heard of that or been a part of it. Then we've played 14 freshmen, and nine of them have started. Those aren't excuses; those are facts.

"We have some personnel issues that we need to address and improve on for the future, but we've got to do a much better job (of running the football). That is very disappointing, because we could hang our hat on running the football even when we really struggled trying to get this program turned around. We've not done a good job at all of running the ball this year.

"Secondly, we have a lot of quarterbacks in the mix. You can go out there every day and see what I see – number 15 is going to be in the thick of this competition. There is experience coming back at quarterback, guys that have played, but no one that has established themselves as the guy for 2004. But all of my concentration for the next four days is trying to win the Missouri game."

On situation at quarterback heading into Mizzou:

"We'll take the next two days to evaluate and then name a starter. The last thing I want is three quarterbacks playing in the same game, unless we have put the game away, which we haven't been able to do this year. We'll name a starter, hopefully he can go the distance, and then we'll have somebody ready as a reliever.

"That is not what we planned last week. We planned on playing two quarterbacks and told them that they were both going to play in the first half. We ended up getting into three of them, because there was just no consistency whatsoever. But I don't want to put it all on the quarterbacks. The execution of the offense, period, was not that good. But clearly none of the quarterbacks played winning football last week."

On how much lack of rushing attack has effected quarterback play:

"It starts with having a better running game than we've had this year. if you can be balanced and make people respect your running game more and have the chance to move the chains better, it always opens up the pass game, whether that's play action, sprint, roll, naked bootlegs, three-step and five step. That's where we've really struggled. We need to get better at that, and will.

"Against the many great defenses we see in this league, you've got to be real physical and able to run the football. We've been poor to below-average at best this year running the ball."

On his experience with handling unsettled quarterback position:

"Not this late in the year. There have been years at other places and here when we weren't sure early in the season, but usually by this time of the year you knew and somebody had established themselves. That hasn't happened. That part of it is new to me. Hopefully it's the first time and last time that ever happens. It's the first time I've ever done it at Iowa State. We've always known who our starters were my first eight years, and we haven't had to still go into games needing a few more days to make a decision. What we see are some good things, poor things, consistency and lack of consistency. That's the hand we've been dealt and we've got to put the best guy out there this week to win a game."

On statement that offense and offensive line overall hasn't improved:

"It's unfair to say that the offense hasn't gotten a lot better and those kind of things, when you think of Luke Vander Sanden missing most of the season, Bobby Montgomery missing a bunch, and those are two of the top offensive linemen we have. You put a true freshman (Aaron Brant) and redshirt freshman (Seth Zehr), and that's a tough deal.

"I think they've done some good things, but clearly this is not what we wanted with offensive production, points, yards, time of possession, third-down conversions and red-zone offense. You name it and we need to improve a lot by next year, so we can get back on the winning track.

"I'm proud of the way these kids have worked and those kids coming back. Bobby Montgomery has played a lot of snaps with a sore foot, and Luke Vander Sanden has played with a sore knee trying to help this team. But those guys healthy would have made a difference in some of the offensive production we've had this year."

On up and coming offensive linemen:

"Hopefully we won't have them as starters, but definitely in the mix. When you look at John Tjaden, Brandon Cook, Bastian Schober, Anthony Walker and some of those kids that are down there – they're big, strong, physical and are still learning the game. Those guys have got to step it up and be ready to help us next year.

"Cory Wierson was a 315-pounder that we thought for sure would be in the two-deep, but we've lost him. He's doing a great job out there as a student coach, but that doesn't help him much on game day."

On possible recruitment of JUCO O-linemen:

"We definitely want to recruit high school kids. We've always done that. We can't talk about recruiting specifically, but we're going to recruit some high school kids and possibly some junior college offensive linemen. I won't get back to a whole truck full of junior college players again, but we're looking at some of those kids. But we still want mostly four-year players."

On recruiting mistakes and players not performing up to par:

"We've got to do a better job overall. I'm disappointed with some kids right now that we thought would step up and be ready, but they're not. We're not going to give up on them. This is a two-way thing. This is not a handout around here. You're on scholarship. If you're not out there playing on Saturday, unless you're injured, what's wrong? You need to give more to the program. Be a giver and not a taker. That's exactly the way we will approach this winter."

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