Mac Press Conference #2 Transcription

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

Opening comments:

"From an injury standpoint we're in pretty good shape overall. A couple of questionable guys, and it will depend on what happens between now and Saturday, would be Milan Moses and Luke Vander Sanden. Milan turned an ankle last night in the scrimmage, and we'll have to see day to day whether he can go or not. He's had a good spring and improved a lot. Luke has a sore wrist and we'll see how it goes. He missed some of the scrimmage last night. Those are really the only questionable guys we have for the spring game."

"We had a half-practice, half-scrimmage last night and will have a final full thud practice tomorrow in full pads, then a shorts practice on Friday. Some of it will be together as a team, then we'll separate it and go to Cardinal and White teams for an organizational practice for the game."

"There are a few adjustments on the depth chart, and that's based on all the practices we've had and five scrimmages. That's coming right out of the meetings this morning, and our evaluation on last night's scrimmage."

"Coach Cotton won the toss and will take the starters and the fours. He'll be the head coach of the Cardinal team. Coach Fitch lost the toss yesterday and will take the twos and threes, and I'll award him 21 points before we start the game."

"I think it's been a real productive spring. These things are constant so far with this team: they've got a great attitude, good work ethic, and we've asked them to be more physical and a tougher team. Our team overall has really come out every day and been ready to go. These kids have come ready to be coached and ready to practice, which has allowed us to make us some real strides this spring."

"With three opportunities to go, some guys in particular have really shown some good improvement on the football team.

"If we played tomorrow, there's no question Shawn Moorehead would be our backup rush behind Jason Berryman. He's 231 pounds and still has to get bigger and stronger, but his motor never stops. He had 51 snaps in Saturday's scrimmage and not a lot of minuses. He has really come on and is a walk-on that's made a lot of strides.

"Jamar Buchanan has a real good battle going with Tyson Smith at WILL linebacker. He's had some real big scrimmages and days where he really made big plays, but he's always in the right place. And if he does misread on something, he's going to hustle back with great effort.

"Matt Robertson at MIKE has really made a lot of strides and is definitely a much better player this spring than he was in the fall.

"Henry Poullard at corner still has to get some more weight on him. At 165 pounds, he's not what we're looking for size-wise on gameday. But his playmaking ability, coverage and toughness is improving.

"Moving Brent Curvey to defensive tackle was a great move. He's a 290-pound athletic interior defensive lineman, and I'm real pleased with his improvement.

"In special teams and kicking, Tony Yelk has had a tremendous spring. He kicked a 51- and 55-yarder Saturday in the scrimmage. There was a little breeze behind him, but you've still got to split the uprights. I'm real proud of his consistency and improvement as a kicker. We know he can be a good punter, but we're going to keep working for him to get the ball off kicker to help improve our entire punt unit. But, again, if we played tomorrow he would be doing PAT, field goals, kickoffs and punting.

"Aaron Brant on the offensive line moving from guard to tackle made a lot of improvement. He's really made a lot of improvement and has come on.

"Ben Barkema moved up to number three at tight end after last night's scrimmage. He's one of the most improved kids on offense. We held him out last year, but he's getting more physical, has good hands, and is going to be a good tight end for the future.

"Landon Schrage is our number one deep snapper, and has really done a lot of good things. We needed him to show a lot improvement with Eric Schmitz graduating at deep snapper.

"Andy Kohler at wide receiver gets better and better coming off that ACL. And if we played tomorrow, Chris O'Hollearn, the backup tackle, would swing because he is our third best tackle behind Stubbe and Brant."

"The quarterback spot always brings so much focus and attention, and Bret still has an edge right now. He didn't have a great scrimmage last night, but when you measure five scrimmages and the practices, he still has a slight edge at number one. He will start with the Cardinal team on Saturday, then we'll make a decision after tomorrow night's practice if we will rotate anyone else in with the Cardinal team in the second half."

On spring game rules:

"Coach Fitch's team will be given 21 points prior to kickoff. The quarters will be 12 minutes instead of 15. Halftime will be 15 minutes instead of 20. At halftime I'll make a decision whether we'll go 12 minutes in the fourth quarter or just let the clock run. That will depend on the score, injuries and how the game is going. Each team can use up to four exotics. Guest coaches are unlimited. The kicking game rules will be no kickoffs, no kickoff returns, possessions will start at the 30-yard line, we'll fair catch all punts, we'll rush only one player off the edge on all punt, PAT and field goal situations in case of a bad snap."

On how Bret Meyer has stayed ahead in QB race:

"He's been more consistent and made more plays. His pass completion percentage has been the best of the quarterbacks, other than last night. It's not always exactly the way the coaches want it done, but he'll get it done. Then it's just being a leader and the guy in that huddle that those guys believe in and trust. He's a real young guy with a real bright future at Iowa State."

"We're hoping that he can play smart and be fundamentally sound (on Saturday). We're not going to ask him to audiblize and get in and out of a number of plays. I want to see him lead that offense. He's starting with a three-touchdown deficit, but go out there and make plays, be at ease and comfortable, look and play like a starter, and hopefully do some of the things he's capable of doing. But I don't want him to go out there with the weight of the world on his shoulders. He needs to play like a number one guy and like a starter, which he has done for much of the spring."

On making final decision on position after Saturday:

"Saturday is going to be a real good measure. We'll see where we're at with everything. If Bret comes out of it and looks like the starter and plays like the starter, then he'll be number one going into camp. But if for some reason he goes in there and really struggles against our number two defense, then it's really wide open going into two-a-days. Against our number twos, we ought be efficient, do good things, and he should come out of it as our number one guy, and the guy to beat out come two-a-days."

On offensive line's improvement from start of spring:

"I definitely feel better. We're not where we want to be yet. We really tried to emphasize the running game and run defense in last night's scrimmage, and did some good things. We didn't come out and wing it 40 or 50 times. We want to toughen our team and get better in the two areas we were poor at last year – stopping the run and running the football. I think we got a lot out of that scrimmage. It's not like we haven't been doing it those other scrimmages, but we really put a heavy emphasis on it last night.

"It all starts up front, and I think we are getting better. But we've got to continue the physical development between now and when we get started. They're a real conscientious group. I think the message that Barney has sent to that offensive line is that they had better be relentless, tough, and this offense going to go as you go. They've taken that and really improved, but we're not ready yet for Northern Iowa, Iowa, Northern Illinois or Oklahoma State."

On finding a leader along offensive line:

"There are great kids, but it's too quiet of a group right now. We're hoping that some leaders will emerge. That's one reason I'm glad I waited on the captain thing. We don't have guys right now on offense that are the slam-dunk leaders of the offense. When you are trying to find who your first 11 are and it's taken some time, that's a natural thing. Offensively, we need that time. We don't need 11 guys hollering and screaming, but we don't have enough and need a few. That will come with time, experience and maturation. We're in the developmental stage with our offense."

On how coaches are working to instill physical attitude:

"You make them conscious of it, you talk about it, and you talk about one of the reasons we were not very good last year. One of the reasons we were inept running the football is because we were not physical enough. It's not just neutralizing people, it's knocking people off the football. It's an attitude and that starts up front. It starts with your offensive linemen and the attitude they bring to the field. It's getting into drills and segments of practice where you really force people to be physical.

"We took a period this spring and I just called it a one-on-one period. It was wide receivers and defensive backs, running backs and fullbacks against linebackers, and offensive line against defensive line. It was run emphasis of just being more physical. You see right on tape with your own eyes who had better leverage, who was more physical and who wanted it more. We tried to incorporate that into practice."

More on emergence of Buchanan and Robertson:

"Those guys have played a lot of football. Tyson has never played WILL linebacker, so it's all new to him. And he's coming off a real major injury. But Jamarr Buchanan is hungry, tough, wants to play and is one of the most enthusiastic players we have on this team. If it was gameday tomorrow we'd start Tyson, but we're not going to wait long to get Jamarr in the game.

"If we started tomorrow Brandon would start, but we wouldn't wait long to get Matt in there. We feel much better about putting those two guys out on the field than we have backups on the past, which means we're getting more quality depth."

On future possibility of Flynn changing positions:

"He's a darn good athlete and we want him on the field. If this is the way it works out, you'd hate to think of Austin standing around with a clipboard, writing stuff or signaling. We want more out of him. If the quarterback race was over, it would be a little easier for me to make that decision right now – can he play something else, can he play wide receiver or defensive back, is he one of our top 22? But he is definitely still in the race at quarterback, so we'll leave him right there."

On differences in offensive approach:

"The whole offense is different, frankly. We're still going to still try to do some of the same things we've done before, even though the terminology and system may be different. We're not inventing anything new here in Ames. There may be a different look to it, different motion, or maybe different footwork involved with the people up front. The bottom line is to move the chains, score points and have at least one more point than the opponent in the end."

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