Spring Practice Seven Q&A

Since Saturday's 90-play scrimmage was entirely closed to the media, CycloneNation.com caught up with Iowa State head coach Dan McCarney and assistants John Skladany and Tony Alford afterwards to get a feel for what went on inside the Bergstrom Indoor Practice Facility.


CN: How about starting with some general comments on today's practice?

McCarney: We got a lot done. I can't wait to get in there and watch tape. With our new system that we have in place, it will only take about 20 minutes and it will be ready to go. Our defense is really building some personality and attitude right now. We started out forcing some turnovers early in the scrimmage defensively, which was good to see. It wasn't drops by the offense. There were some legitimate big hits and helmets on the ball knocking balls out.

Obviously you don't want that offensively. But we got into a lot of situations. I got them backed up. I had them in third-and-longs and third-and-mediums. It should be great to evaluate."

CN: Do you remember who had turnovers on defense?

McCarney: I know Henry Poullard knocked one out. Matt Robertson scored on defense with a fumble. It was on a long one, too, which was great to see. He was sucking air for about 10 minutes afterwards. He did a real good job scoring on defense. We're developing some personality that seems like more than we've had around here for a while. We're getting a lot done.

They were knocking butts out there and really coming after each other. It was great to see. The offense has got to learn from it and hang onto the dang thing, but defensively that's exactly what we're looking for. We came up with some real good situations and made some big plays in some critical downs. It wasn't like the offense was on vacation out here. They did some things at times, too. Our offense made some real good plays.

CN: Any other players who have really stood out?

McCarney: Ryan Baum showed up today like he always does. He won the hearts of fans on special teams last year, and he's doing some things as a receiver right now that you like to see. He's a competitor and I love him. I'm glad he's on this team, and he's going to play a lot of football in the next three years for Iowa State.

CN: With the defense having a decisive edge, what kind of evaluation can you offer of the quarterbacks?

McCarney: The top three guys did some good things. We had a 90-play scrimmage, so we'll have to grade technique, assignments, fundamentals, making plays, and turning bad plays into good plays. We've got a lot of work to do. We'd like to come out of this scrimmage if we can and say, ‘here's one and here's two.' But if we can't, we can't. We've still got eight more workouts left, and four more scrimmage situations.

CN: What about the emergence of Brian Thompson over the last two practices?

McCarney: He did some good things today. Yesterday's practice and today's scrimmage he did some things better. That was good to see. There is nobody that has complete control of that number one, so we'll continue to evaluate Stevie Hicks, Jason Scales, and B.T. All of them did some good thing at times today, but we're not where we need to be.

CN: What kind of work have you been able to do on special teams?

McCarney: We got some punt, punt return, PAT and field goal stuff done today. If we were playing tomorrow, Tony (Yelk) would be our PAT, field goal and punter. We'll see if he can handle that this fall, but if we were doing it tomorrow it would be an easy decision.


CN: Obviously, it had to be a pretty tough day to watch if you're a running backs coach.

Alford: They didn't do a good job with ball security and need to do a better job. Don't put the ball on the ground. The defense stresses turnovers and the offense stresses not turning it over. The fact of the matter is don't turn it over.

CN: How does the running back position look coming out of this first big scrimmage?

Alford: I've got to watch the tape. I couldn't even tell you. (Brian Thompson) has run pretty hard the last couple days and put forth good effort. (The top two backs) are trying to do some good things, but we need to see more consistency out of all of them.


CN: Comment on the play of your defense.

Skladany: I thought that the kids came out to practice hard today, and realized it was a competitive situation. I thought we played hard throughout the day. We did some good and bad like every day in the spring, but they were playing fast, playing hard, and had great emotion out there. It was a good day's work. The turnovers were good and we stress that all the time. It's good to have them. The other thing that was nice is we had a couple batted balls at the line of scrimmage, and that stopped some drives.

CN: Who forced the fumble on Poullard's fumble return?

Skladany: Nick Davidson knocked it out of his hand, which was good.

CN: Any other players that stuck out in your mind today?

Skladany: Nick Leaders has had a really good spring. I notice him a lot. He's improved his game and been a nice plus so far. Berryman goes about a thousand miles an hour out there and does it every day. I saw a lot of kids running and working. The white shirts were moving fast.

CN: What kind of progress have Cephus Johnson and Dominique Flower made since returning from minor injuries.

Skladany: Dominique missed a few plays today, but he was in there some and shows up. He's a talented guy. Cephus can really run. We need those kids to come through for us, we really do.

CN: How about the defensive backs?

Skladany: DeAndre Jackson missed today and he needed it. He got a little tweak and will be OK on Monday, but we held him today to make sure he wouldn't miss any time next week. Henry Poullard has played in the past, but not much. He's had a decent spring. Nik Moser made a couple nice plays today as a safety. Stevie Paris has played a lot of football here, as has Ellis Hobbs.

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