Iowa State vs. Iowa Quotebook

<b>AMES, IA --</b> Iowa State opens the non-conference season in Iowa City Saturday morning against the Hawkeyes. Head coach Dan McCarney and a few select players previewed the game with the local media during his their weekly press conference Tuesday morning. Here is a complete transcription.

Opening comments:

"Coming out of the Northern Iowa game, our MVPs were Todd Miller on offense. He had five catches for over 50 yards, zero mental errors, and blocking was outstanding. He's one of those guys that's too small to play and all he does is go play. He did a tremendous job in his first game as a starting wide receiver for us."

"On defense, all 11 starters were our MVPs. It's the least amount of yards we've given up in 24 years and the first shutout in a long time. Seven first downs – I don't care who you play, when, what level of football, and all of those things – it was very gratifying to see that. Ryan Baum is our special teams MVP and gave a great effort on all four of them. We only gave out one game ball and it was to Tyson Smith. He had seven tackles, a tackle-for-loss, and four pressures. He overcame a bad injury from a year ago, then came out and played like that."

"The special teams captain for the Iowa game will be Todd Miller. He inspires everyone around him, whether it's special teams, offense, or off the field and on the field. He's a tremendous leader."

"Bobby Chalk will play this week. All along we saw through the month of preseason that he would help our football team. He sat out one game because of an error in judgement, and he'll be back on the field this week. He will be on special teams and possibly in the secondary."

"The general health overall is real good. Not everyone that played in the game Saturday practiced yesterday, but that's pretty typical and normal this time of year. Hopefully everyone will be available by Saturday. Tony Yelk gets better and better each day. He's getting stronger. Coming back from a pulled muscle, hopefully he'll be available this week. We'll continue to kick him. He punted last night and will work on PAT, field goal, and kickoffs tonight. As long as he is healthy, he'll definitely go Saturday."

"This is my 23rd Iowa State-Iowa game. I've got some insight that a lot of people never had or never will have, being involved that many times. It really is a great rivalry and I believe that. Despite what the oddsmakers are saying, we think we've got a chance to go over and have a great football game with Iowa this week. We're nearly a four-touchdown underdog and have been there before. It's really going to be tough. On paper, we probably do look like a four-touchdown underdog. But there's never been a game ever played on paper."

"We have the utmost respect for their program and team. They're highly ranked and should be. They have a suffocating defense, and I think the best since Kirk (Ferentz) has been there. They're very balanced. They seem to reinsert a new quarterback every couple years, and still are very effective in what they do. It starts with the offensive line. They're always well-coached and have good people up front. I don't see any rookies out there. There may be some new starters, but if you look at their starters on both sides of the ball and those guys have been around the program a long time. We know we're going to have our hands full."

"Everybody in this state should be real proud of the programs we have here. This is the second week in a row we're going to play an in-state rival, and the second week in a row we're going to play a team that won 10 games last year. But everybody should be proud of what we have in this state. We had a temporary setback last year, but over the test of time, these programs are real strong."

"I'm real excited about the game this week. You hear about and read about that we put more emphasis on it than Iowa does, but I don't buy that for a second. Just because we've won five of the last six doesn't mean there has been more emphasis over here. We've been fortunate, good, lucky, and have gone into almost every one of those games as an underdog."

"Last year there was no doubt Iowa was the better team. We were ridiculous in special teams in the game a year ago, and no question it impacted the outcome of that game. But I think we learned an awful lot going back through last season. Hopefully we'll continue to improve."

"The environment will be unbelievably tough, for a veteran team and much less a very young team like we have. We have a lot of guys that will be going on the road for the first time. But if you don't enjoy it, don't like it, and don't look forward to it, then don't get on the bus. This is why we come to work every day."

On using the odds as a motivator:

"I'm not telling the kids what the latest odds are from Vegas. We were an underdog last week. These kinds of things are not as representative of what happened last week as they are a carry-over from last year. Iowa has a tremendous season and we stink. I think that has a carry-over effect when you go into a game like this.

"But we've been there and done it. It's not like we haven't been there before as a major underdog and were able to win a football game. This is a much better football team than the one we defeated when I was a 28- or 29-point underdog six years ago, but we've still been there and overcame the odds. I think our kids will show up, fight, play, and won't get shook because of the environment."

On using quarterback rotation for Iowa:

"It will be set before hand, just like last week. I trust them both, like them both, and respect them. They both threw for over 60 percent. I was real pleased with Bret (Meyer) for a lot of things. From an accuracy standpoint, he missed on some guys. But his first series he goes right down the field. He puts about as good a throw as you can on 4th-and-2, and their guy makes a great play and we don't make the play. That sure wasn't because he didn't make a heck of a play.

"For him to show the poise and maturity to go down the field and do what he did shows you something special. There was also a 16-play drive before to go down and score. That shows you something about a kid who's never played a game. No matter how many times we tried to orchestrate two-minute drives, we've never had one that long in practice. He was able to execute.

"At the same time, Austin Flynn comes in and his first throw of the season is a touchdown. Both of them complement each other well. There is no controversy here within this football program. Somebody may think so outside, but that doesn't have anything to do with the decisions I make. All of the coaches and kids trust these guys, and they'll both play this week."

On offensive coordinator Barney Cotton's preparation:

"I like Barney an awful lot. He brings professionalism, experience, has a great demeanor about him, and yet his fire runs like mine does. He's got a competitive fire inside him and wants to win. He didn't come here to take four or five years to rebuild this thing back to where we were. He wants to win every day in practice. He wants to beat our defense every day in practice. Barney's got great leadership skills. It's not just his size and presence that command respect. He commands respect because of the job he does teaching, coaching, critiquing, and making adjustments every day."

On importance of more big plays Saturday:

"We've got to continue to finish blocks. There were some times Saturday that we had chances at some longer runs and bigger runs. One big play over 25 yards, run or pass, is not acceptable. We talked to the kids yesterday about that. We're looking for more big plays. We think we have some players, ability, and potential to make more than one big play offensively. It's going to be hard this week. We have to continue to make guys miss."

On defensive comparisons of UNI and Iowa:

"We were blitzed almost 80 percent of the time Saturday against Northern Iowa. They came off the bus blitzing and went into the locker room blitzing. I don't know that I've ever seen anything like that. It was non-stop. Our guys saw them from all over the place.

"Iowa, on the other hand, from a scheme standpoint doesn't feel like they have to do as much. They have great personnel. They have four senior starters up front and one of the most dominating physical front sevens in the country. So you don't have to do as many things, but you had better be sound and great tacklers. It's going to be real hard, but we've got to find a way. There are no white flags here."

On where offensive line is compared to last season:

"We're better right now than we were last year at this time, and not just because of the score of Saturday's game. We are better, but are still not where we want to be. You're going to be lining up and coaching against some of the best in college football. A number of those guys are going to go on and play in the NFL."

On fullback Tony Johnson:

"I'm real impressed with him. He's one of the five or six true freshmen that played for the first time. He answered the call. I'm sure Iowa's defense will be working on stopping the belly play in practice this week. He's learning to get his knees bent, get his pads down, and play with a low center of gravity. He's a real threat in short-yardage, goal-line, or red-zone situations. We're not going to give it to him every time, but that won't be the only game we try to give it to him in short-yardage."

On difference between Stevie Hicks of this season and last:

"He's much more confident. He's healthy and that helps. He's much more maturity and understands the big picture of the entire game. It's not just waiting for the handoff and seeing how many yards you can get. You've got to be a blocker, receiver, and be able to scan the field. Right now, through one game and four preseason scrimmages, he looks like he has a chance to be, from a blocking standpoint, the type of blocker that Ennis Haywood and Troy Davis were. They took a pride in it and excelled in it. Stevie takes great pride in it and did a great job in protection Saturday."

On performances of the three JUCO defensive backs:

"I think all of them did a nice job. LaMarcus Hicks was definitely the best of the three. It doesn't mean those other ones can't be as good or better. They all got their first opportunity to play big-time Division I football. They all got on some special teams and got on the field. But Hicks was clearly the best of the three. We'll keep the accelerator down on all three of them. Lamarcus and (Tim) Dobbins are going to get better. Those are two good reasons we will definitely go back to Mississippi to see if we can grab a couple more this year."

On special teams mishaps of a year ago vs. Iowa:

"We clearly lost that part of the game and the rest of the game didn't seem to be quite a mismatch. We had more yards, more first downs, and more time of possession. But all of that goes for naught when you just get your tail kicked in special teams. We were embarrassing. They blocked a punt the first time and came right back and did the exact same things on the second one. That's a real poor reflection on me, my staff, and the coaches when you can't make an adjustment and fix that on the sideline. That's exactly how we approach it.

"We know people are going to heat us up every week, no matter who is in there. Our punt team coach, Terry Allen, probably gets less sleep than a lot of coaches, because you're always worried about the next scheme and where the next blocker is going to come from. We got off to a good start on Saturday and have to build on that."

On lingering effects of those problems this offseason:

"It wasn't just that game. We had two blocked at Iowa and two at Nebraska. It was a weakness on our football team and we've got to try turning it into a strength. All of our special teams left a lot to be desired. If we hadn't been there before and had real solid special teams, which we have, then you could maybe accept it a little bit more. I couldn't accept it. That's why DeMontie (Cross) and Coach (Terry) Allen are in charge of that. I have lead coaches in each area, but those two have headed it up."

"We met with a lot of college teams and NFL people trying to upgrade schemes, ideas, adjustments, practices, and drills so that we can be better. We didn't get off to a great start, but we still won seven of 10 goals that we set Saturday. We did a lot of real good things."

On practicing on punt coverage Saturday vs. UNI:

"Northern Iowa returned more than they rushed against us the other day. We know we're going to get a better test this week. Iowa is going to come in with their heads down, rear ends up in the air coming after us ready to block punts. We've got to be good enough to stop that, protect it, and still punt and cover. But we got off to a good start.

"Landon Schrage is another guy that nobody talks about. That was his first game that he ever played, and he was back there firing them out as well as any (deep) snapper that I've had. It's one of the toughest jobs on any football team, but I'm really proud of him. It helps your protection and punter when you can get that snap back there real fast. We're going to have to do that this week."

On Iowa's defensive line, particularly defensive end Matt Roth:

"All four of those senior defensive linemen in there are just outstanding. They've all played and are all veterans. All four of them have starting experience and they're all outstanding players.

"Roth is clearly one of the best players in college football. He did it last year and the first game this year. He's explosive and plays with great hands. He is so physical and violent with his hands, so it's hard to maintain and sustain a block with him. There are no drag downs, pull downs, and grabbing a guy when he's tackled. He blows you up. He plays the game the way you want all your players to play. We've got to do all we can to try and slow him down."

On Greg Coleman's situation:

"Right now we're going to try to redshirt him. There is no question he's a quality football player. We really worked him a lot on special teams and at running back during camp, but part of that reason was because Jason Scales missed a lot of practices during camp. That gave Greg more opportunities and more carries.

"Right now we'd go Stevie Hicks, Tyease Thompson, Jason Scales, and then Greg would be our next guy. Barring injuries we'll hold him and redshirt him, but if somebody gets nicked then he's the next guy in. I'm very pleased with Greg and his maturity. He was very disappointed when we visited with him about it last week."

NICK LEADERS on Iowa quarterback Drew Tate:

"We saw him a little bit in the first game and he's really got good feet and can move around well. It looks like he's got a pretty good arm and is accurate."

NIK MOSER on the ISU-Iowa rivalry:

"If you can't get ready for this game, I don't know what's wrong with you. It's the Super Bowl of Iowa. It's Iowa State and Iowa. You look forward to this game and watching it. It's a game you can talk about a year from now. People talk about last year's game all the way up until the day before the game."

BRET MEYER on going into Kinnick Stadium:

"It's going to be difficult and will take that ‘us against the world' mentality. We'll need to stay together and make sure communication is big for us."


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