Mac Press Conference #1 Transcription

Iowa State head coach Dan McCarney met with the media Tuesday morning for the first of two formal press conferences of the spring. The Cyclone head man discussed the first announced changes in his depth chart and various other topics from spring football practice. Here is a complete transcription of his comments.

McCarney spring presser one 04: Opening comments:

"I'm pleased with our progress. We're done with eight of the 15 workouts allowed by the NCAA. We've had two scrimmages, which is only a third of the scrimmages that we'll have. We'll have four more, including a half scrimmage tomorrow and a full one Saturday morning."

"The depth charts are from daily evaluations and changes. We treat each practice like a game or scrimmage situation, grading fundamentals, productivity, and performance. There are some important evaluations we have to make. It's all fair game in the spring."

"There are no major injuries so far. Fortunately, there is nothing serious yet, just some minor things that have kept guys out of a practice or two. We hope that will continue."

"We won't elect captains until after two-a-days. That's a different policy for me and just a decision I made. We need more time to identify the real leaders on this team. There are a lot of young players that have a major role on this team. I felt like with this year and this team, we're going to wait until the end of two-a-days. We have 28 more newcomers and I want them to be a part of this."

"Most of the position changes have been in the offensive line. Coach Cotton's trying to get our starting five out there with the backups. Anthony Walker has gone from guard to center, Seth Zehr from center to guard, Luke Vander Sanden from guard to center, and Tom Schmeling from center to guard. Barring any injuries, we like those guys in those positions, and now I think they'll stay there."

"The January additions are doing a good job, but have a long ways to go. They're behind. Kurtis Taylor, Tom Schmeling and Nate Mechaelsen. They didn't play football at all in the fall. Taylor has shown flashes of having a chance to help us next year. Jason Scales is off to a great start. He's learning and is going to make mistakes, which we already knew. He's shown already in the first half of spring ball that he'll definitely play next year. Barring any injuries, he will not be redshirted. I've seen enough of him to know he'll play in the fall."

"The walk-on program is strong here, and we've got seven of them in the two-deep right now. Four of team – Shawn Moorehead, Trent Claussen, Ryan Baum, and Jamar Buchanan – are all really vying for some serious playing time. That's not just because we're with only three classes instead of four. They're really improving and have done a good job. Gabe Bakker, Chris O'Hollearn, and Broc Bebout are also in the two-deep at this time."

"All of the guys that had surgery – Tyson Smith, Henry Poullard, Brandon Tinlin, Andy Leaders, Luke Vander Sanden, Andy Kohler, and Dominique Flower – are all practicing. They're showing no signs of having any problems post-surgery from last season."

"There are some pleasant surprises halfway through spring. We moved Shawn Moorehead to rush. He was a SAM backer last year and we put him in there with his hand down. He's a backup to Jason Berryman right now, and if we played tomorrow he would definitely be on the field. If he gets bigger and stronger, he's going to play a lot of football."

"Matt Robertson is playing the best football of his career, and is pushing Brandon Brown for that number one spot at MIKE linebacker. He's really playing well."

"We moved Jamar Buchanan to WILL linebacker, and he's pushing Tyson Smith for all he's got."

"Henry Poullard is playing the best football of his career. That, coupled with the fact DeAndre Jackson didn't scrimmage on Saturday, has made him number one. He earned it."

"Tony Yelk is doing his best job. If we played tomorrow he would be our PAT, field goal, kickoff and punter."

"Andy Kohler has come back from the surgery and done a nice job."

"Kory Pence has been basically a PAT and field goal protection guy, but is now in a serious hunt for playing time (on the offensive line)."

On biggest battle going on presently:

"I would say quarterback, obviously. Bret Meyer is listed number one right now, because he's a little bit more consistent and made a few more plays. But that race is not about to be over right now. We've got four more scrimmages and seven more practices, then two-a-days. Bret's got a slight edge right now. He, Austin Flynn and Cris Love are all going after it, but after eight practices and two scrimmages Bret's got a little bit of an edge."

"The left guard position has got to improve, but that job is really wide open right now. Brett Kellogg is really pushing James Wright for the tight end position. A couple of those wide receiver positions are very much up for grabs right now."

"It's going to be very hard to beat out the four that we've got listed on the defensive line. Brent Curvey, Jason Berryman, Nick Leaders and Cephus Johnson (have had good springs). A couple of those linebacker spots, though, are up for grabs because of the improvement of Matt Robertson and Jamar Buchanan."

"We're really thin in the secondary right now, because of the lack of scholarship guys that are coming in. We've got seven more coming in the fall, so it's made it a little tougher there. We don't have as many guys back there that we'd like to be working with. But Nik Moser and Caleb Berg have a good battle going at safety, and DeAndre Jackson and Henry Poullard have a good battle going at corner."

On possibility of redshirt freshman quarterback starting again:

"If he's the best, has the most talent, is the most consistent, has the best winning percentage from a performance standpoint, and makes the fewest mistakes, then I don't worry about it at all. A year or two from now if he's the guy or Austin's coming back as a two-year veteran, then you feel a little bit better. There's a good battle going on now. Flynn's got the most experience, Love's been in the program the longest, but Meyer has the edge right now coming out of the first eight practices."

On position shuffling along offensive line:

"More than anything, Barney (Cotton) is getting a feel and the chance to coach these kids. You can be around them and watch them jump rope and run bags in the winter time, but to get out and watch them play football and block our defensive linemen is a different thing. Then you get a feel on if they're better at snapping the ball and blocking, or just lining up with their hand down and blocking somebody. Barney has now gotten a chance to coach these kids."

"It's looking right now like they were all good moves. I think we're going to leave Luke at center and Seth at guard, then Walker and Schmeling switching positions is a good move."

"We're working towards (feeling comfortable about eight offensive linemen). We wouldn't feel comfortable right now going out there and thinking we could win with these eight. It's definitely a work in progress. But the attitude is great and they want to be coached. The kids are really focused on getting back to winning."

On Barney Cotton's influence:

"He brings great professionalism, maturity and experience. He's a tough guy and wants tough guys playing for him, no matter if you're a wide receiver, quarterback or offensive lineman. He's got a temperament and personality of what he expects from his players. That's exactly what I want.

"When we turned this program around we were a physical offense and physical running team. We need to get back to that. We're not there yet, but we're getting closer."

On Jason Scales' development this spring:

"He's got to have ability and maturity to handle the things that happen as fast as they do at this level. He's out there blocking some pretty good defensive players right now that have good experience. He learns from his mistakes and has great pride. If he fumbles the ball, it just tears him up. He's got that pride and feeling about how important that is. That's not happened a lot, but the few times it's happened it's really bothered him and he's come back with more determination.

"He's already shown that he's physical enough, and in the short time he's been here he reminds me a little bit of Darren Davis and Troy Davis when he blocks. He isn't that kind of running back yet, but as a blocker he's explosive, powerful and has great fundamentals. It shows that maybe he can help us next year."

On areas of disappointment thus far:

"We've got to be more consistent from an offensive standpoint. We cut down on some mental errors from scrimmage one to scrimmage two, but we've got to be more consistent. That's every position on offense. We've got to continue to be a better with our rush offense, then continue to make more plays in the pass game.

"But it is a new system, with three new coaches. I didn't expect to go out there and be ready to go up and down the field on Oklahoma State. We've got a lot of work to do.

"Defensively, right now we're doing a good job of forcing fumbles and getting some turnovers. That's something we strive for and talk about. We were very average last year, and we want to keep building on this spring. There is some enthusiasm, spirit, and attitude about our defense right now. They're having more fun than we've had in a long time playing defense. There is a real personality with our defense right now."

On Todd Blythe:

"He's had an excellent spring so far and is maybe our best all-around wide receiver. He's big and strong, but hasn't played one down. He's also one of the better leaders we have on this team. He's special and I think he'll be one of the better receivers I've had at Iowa State. That's why a lot of people tried to recruit him."

On Jon Davis' decline:

"It's inconsistency. We expect more out of Jon and he expects more out of himself. He's got to practice better, play better and scrimmage better. He hasn't done that on a consistent basis yet. It's also a credit to Andy Kohler, because he's come off a major ACL reconstruction. He's got one year to play and has mostly been a special teams guys so far. But with the way he looks now and the way he's working, he's going to be more of a special teams guy as a senior."

On Tyson Smith's learning new position:

"He's doing a good job. It's all new. Every day and practice is a new experience for him. He is doing a good job. I'm really happy that he's able to get out there. He got 35 snaps in a scrimmage Saturday and didn't miss a snap. That's a major plus when you come out of a real bad injury like he had.

"He likes playing there and is doing a good job. We'll continue to leave him there. We think that move is permanent and have seen enough to think he can play WILL linebacker."

On defensive line as strongpoint thus far:

"It's one of the strengths. We don't have enough strengths right now. But if they continue to work the way they have, it should be one of the strengths of our team next year. I like the way these guys are working. Curvey and Berryman are coming out of being starters as true freshmen, Leaders is playing better than he did all of last year, and Cephus Johnson had the best scrimmage he's ever had here last Saturday. We've got high expectations for Cephus, though, and want him to do it for 60 to 70 snaps a game every week, and not flashes in the pan.

"Then you've got Matt Scherbring and Tim Tebrink (as second-teamers) that have some experience. Shawn Moorehead is one of the real pleasant surprises so far. Korey Smith and Nick Davidson are vying for a number two spot. We're not two-deep with Mean Joe Greens, but we are getting a little closer to where we want to be."

On decision of starting quarterback:

"We'd like to have a decision on who's got the edge coming out of the spring game. It's up to Meyer to hold onto it if he can, but it's a very close competition. Todd Fitch does a tremendous job every single day of spelling everything out – good plays, bad plays, bad throws, dangerous throws, positive play, and good percentage play. It's all there in black and white.

"Then you have to go on a gut feeling, and who can help your offense move the ball, score points, and win. It's been very close so far. Bret has a little bit of an edge going into tomorrow."

On decision to shut down practice after Wednesday:

"We've had problems. I don't need the whole entire practice documented. I don't think it's probably anybody in this room. But when I come out of a scrimmage and every player that didn't practice, every play is documented, who looked good and who looked bad, what passes were dropped, who missed kicks and who blocked this, I don't need that for Northern Iowa. I don't need that with this football team.

"I've tried to be real good about it. I've tried to be as cooperative as any head coach in the country through the years, but when there are problems I'm going to make decisions on those things. I love working with the media. I'm not kissing anybody's rear end in here. The media has a tough job to do and so do I. But if letting people in is going to hurt my football team and I see those kinds of things out there, and the Northern Iowas and Iowas can read about everything, I'm not going to do that. It's a tough enough job here."

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