Cotton Training Camp Q&A

First-year Iowa State offensive coordinator recently hit on a few topics with, as the Cyclone offense prepared for the 2004 season. Here is a question-and-answer session with Cotton.

CN: What technical approach are you taking with this group of offensive linemen?

Cotton: There is a way to play finesse and there is a way to play physical. We will not take the finesse way instead of the physical way, any chance that we get. I know it kept being talked about (before), but from day one all we've talked to our guys about is playing lower, being more physical with your hands, and the kind of footwork that you need to take to be physical.

But to be honest with you, being physical is really more of a mindset thing. I think our guys want to be physical and finish. If I can help them believe in finishing each play, they'll be more physical.

CN: The coaching staff at Nebraska was ousted in the midst of a 10-win season in 2003. What would doing that at Iowa State feel like?

Cotton: Everybody tells me it would be awfully nice. I would certainly like to find out sometime what it would be like to be 10-3 here. But we're going to approach that we're going to go one practice at a time, one week at a time, and one game at a time. We're concentrating on Northern Iowa and that's our most important goal.

CN: What are some of the reasons you desire a leaner offensive line, instead of a unit that is bigger and bulkier?

Cotton: I think our guys will be worried about getting better and not be worried about their next breath. That's part of the battle as you go into training camp – can they learn? You can't be learning if you're worried about your next breath every time you put your hand on the ground. I think our guys reported in good shape and the weather is cooperating, so we got a nice start.

CN: Did you feel this group worked out well together throughout the summer?

Cotton: I know the workouts are all voluntary, but there is some accountability within the group. I gave them some things to concentrate on as an additional part of a workout, on top of what Getty had them doing in the weight room. I know there was great attendance to that. I also know they went against the defensive line a little bit and did some things on their own. After a few days we wanted to be where we were at after 15 days of spring practice.

CN: What are your feelings about working for head coach Dan McCarney?

Cotton: I think he's a real person. Watching the way he cares about players, his staff, and how he's dealt and cared for Todd Fitch as he's gone through his battle tells me an awful lot about the guy I'm working for. He's the real deal. This is a people business. Whether we're recruiting, working as a staff, or working with our players, it's all about the people. This is a good people situation, not only for myself but also for my family.

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