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 weekend matchup with Northern Illinois. Here is a complete transcription.

Opening comments:

"We had a very tough loss to an outstanding team in Iowa. They're very deserving of their high rankings. Kirk Ferentz has done a tremendous job with that program. They made the plays when they needed to. It was a real physical football game, and I was proud of the effort. We won't accept losing, coaches and players alike. We went over there to win the football game. We've got to make more plays when the game is on the line. But even though we lost that game, I think we improved from our first game to our second."

"For the third week in a row we're going to play a team that won 10 games in 2003, with Northern Illinois. Joe Novak has done an outstanding job. They won 10 games last year and eight the year before. I think they've won 11 of their last 14 games. They're a very well coached, physical football team with some veterans. There are many of the same faces that beat us over there last year."

"We're looking forward to this game. It's our last non-conference game, is a home game for us, and a very important football game to our program."

On Northern Illinois' Josh Haldi:

"He's an outstanding football player and either was or was close to being in the top-25 in the country in pass efficiency. We know all about him and saw him first-hand last year. He's a tremendous football player and great leader. He's a guy that can beat you with his arm and has good feet. He's smart. Joe has built a program where they're not going to turn the ball over, and Josh led the charge on that a year ago.

"We've got to be ready for him. He played a few snaps in the Maryland game and everybody seems to get healthy when it comes to playing Iowa State. We fully anticipate seeing him. In his absence, though, his backup Phil Horvath has done a real nice job. He's over 50 percent completions and has a strong arm.

"Joe has done a great job of evaluating and recruiting talent to build this program. The stability, consistency, and success that he maintains year after year goes back to the type of young men he's bringing in the program. If somebody is injured or graduates, they just fill in. They go 23-20 at number 19 Maryland, and beat an outstanding Southern Illinois team on Saturday."

On need to improve in rush game:

"We've just got to block people better. We got physically manhandled in the trenches when we were trying to run the ball Saturday, and so are a lot of other people that try to run the people against Iowa. They're one of the best rush defenses in America. We need to be more physical and our fundamentals have to be better. It's not going to get any easier, because Northern Illinois puts out an outstanding defense and front seven that's very physical. When they call that the ‘attack 4-3' that's what you see on tape."

On importance defense could play in a turnaround:

"When we had some success here, we were playing solid fundamental defense week in and week out. We've got to get back to that. Our defense right now is playing fast and they seem to be a little more athletic than a year ago. It's a lot of the same faces, but some brand new ones too. Unfortunately, we've had some injuries early. Tim Dobbins, the junior college transfer from Mississippi, has been a great addition to our defense. He'll get better and better just as many of our newcomers will that are playing.

"We've got to continue to build our football team with our defense. If you don't have a turnover, which we haven't had a turnover in two games, and you play good defense and find somebody that can kick the ball for you, you've got a chance to win games."

On kicker Brian Jansen:

"We love him. How would you like to be tossed into that deal? Both of our scholarship kickers are injured. One of them had surgery in the summer (Josh Griebahn) and then Tony Yelk pulls a muscle. He did it in July punting on his own, so he's been off and on for eight weeks now with not being able to kick or punt. We put Brian in there and he's the best we have. We missed some when we had some opportunities. We're not going to desert him. If Tony's not ready to go, then Brian has to be more consistent for us. I think he will."

On emerging leaders on defense:

"Ellis Hobbs is one of our captains and one of the best leaders I've had in my 10 years here. He had an excellent game Saturday and brought a kickoff back nearly 50 yards. He played real good coverage and was a good sound tackler. He could barely get up the steps of the stadium off the field Saturday. He was exhausted and had given so much.

"Nick Leaders is playing real well in the defensive line. Our entire defense right now is playing well. There were not a lot of missed tackles. We've got to continue getting more big plays. We have not forced many turnovers and only had one interception in these first two games. But we are way up in sacks and tackles-for-loss."

On status of injured players Brent Curvey, Cephus Johnson, and Tony Yelk:

"I think Curvey will be fine. His is not serious at all. He'll be practicing and playing. I don't think there will be any problems with him. Cephus is just day-to-day and game-to-game. We don't know. He's questionable right now. We miss him. He's one of our starting front four and we hope to get him back. We'll have to watch his recovery.

"It is what it is with Yelk. Surgery can't take care of a pulled muscle. I can't tell you when he's going to be ready to go. It's day-to-day and game-to-game with him. We'll have to see how he feels and how much practice he gets. We've got to get ready without him, because there's a good chance he may not be available again."

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