McCarney Big 12 Teleconference

Iowa State head coach Dan McCarney met with the Big 12 media via teleconference Monday morning to look ahead to his team's annual grudge match against Iowa. Mac also shared some thoughts on the Northern Iowa game. Here are some highlights.

Opening comments:

"We're very pleased to get the win over Northern Iowa. Mark Farley, the head coach there, has done a wonderful job. They won 10 games last year and have a players back. It was a hard fought game and we felt like our kids played with a lot of grit and determination. We made a lot of mistakes, but many guys got their first playing time. We had over 30 kids hit the field for the first time, and there were 19 of them in the two-deep. We know how valuable that will be down the road.

"For the second week in a row we're playing an in-state rival. For the second week in a row we're playing a team that won 10 games in 2003. Iowa is truly an outstanding football team and have a great program. They're very balanced with their football team and have many veterans. We're very much looking forward to the game. It's a great college football game every year and the rivalry is alive and well. They're one of the highest ranked teams in the country and should be."

On quarterback play:

"I thought both our quarterbacks did some good things. They both threw for over 60 percent. Bret Meyer played his first Division I football game and threw a touchdown, no interceptions, and had over a five-yard average on running the football. Anytime you can play a football game, and not have a fumble or interception with your starting quarterback playing his first game, you've got to be pleased with that. He misfired on some things from an accuracy standpoint, and had a chance to have a really big day. But we were pleased we got the win and did a lot of good things. Austin Flynn came off the bench and did some good things and threw a touchdown pass. I thought both of them did a good solid job. I believe we will be better at quarterback than we were at anytime last year."

On team's defensive effort:

"I was real proud of our defensive effort, defensive speed, and their weren't a lot of missed tackles. That's one of the things you're always looking for defensively. We didn't give up any big plays. They weren't running behind our secondary off and on all day, which happened sometimes last year. We were real sound. I thought our kids really locked into the gameplan and carried it out. They played with relentless effort and relentless desire, and in the end we ended up getting a shutout.

On importance of getting shutout to build on:

"You can always build on anything like that, because they're so hard to get. That's the same quarterback that had a big season last year and threw for 2,300 yards, and same running back that rushed for over 1,200. They moved the ball much better against us last year than they did this year. Hopefully that's a sign that our defense is getting better."

On defensive efforts of ISU and Iowa, and what that could mean for Saturday:

"There is no question that Iowa has one of the top defenses in college football, and you would anticipate that after the year they had a year ago. Most of them are all back and they have four seniors starting up front. Hodge and Greenway are two of the really outstanding linebackers in college football. They have a very veteran secondary. This looks to me like the best defense Kirk's had since he's been there. It's hard to find holes and hard to find daylight. They are really an outstanding unit and there is going to be a lot of pressure on our offense and football team this week."

On improvement in picking up blitz in punt formations:

"We have put a lot of time into it. We had two of them blocked against Iowa last year and it was one of the biggest factors in Iowa's victory. They were the better team last year. Two blocked punts are just inexcusable and we've got to do a better job of coaching. Hopefully we'll improve as the season goes on."

On Iowa's Matt Roth:

"We won't see one better. I haven't seen one better in recent years. He's that type of player. He has tremendous speed and athleticism. He's explosive. I've never seen him pull down any backs, quarterbacks, receivers or tight ends. He explodes on you when he tackles. But he's not the only one that plays that way on the defense. But there's no doubt you'd better account for where number 31 is all the time, because he's truly one of the best defensive players in the country."

On underdog role for the Cyclones:

"When you have the type of season we had last year, nothing really surprises you. You kind of start from scratch on trying to get some honor, credibility and respect back in your program. We took one step on Saturday and each week we need to continue bringing some of that back that we've built here at Iowa State."

On decision to play freshmen playing Saturday:

"We played a total of five. Brian Jansen, our kicker; Tony Johnson, our fullback who scored a touchdown and had some third-down short carries for us; Collins Eboh, a defensive end; Tyease Thompson, our number two running back; and Jason Scales, a freshman who got his first playing time. We have full plans for the rest of the season that those guys will continue to be involved each week.

"It may be because of a mistake in recruiting. It may be because of the talent of these guys. It might be because from a maturity standpoint these guys are a little further along than a lot of true freshman. I'd like to think that the maturity, talent, preparation, and performance through the past month really has a lot to do with our decision to play those kids."

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