ISU vs. NIU Postgame Quotebook

<b>AMES, IA --</b> Iowa State head coach Dan McCarney and select players reflect on their 48-41 victory over Northern Illinois Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.

Dan McCarney:

"It was a tremendous victory for us. We made all kinds of mistakes in that game, but in the end it was about as good a character, gut check, or heart check you can have for a team, especially a young one. We were down eight at half and 14 points in the third quarter. You just don't (make comebacks) like that unless there is a lot of character on a team. It gets right back to the integrity and character of the kids. We beat a good football team today."

"We had all kinds of mistakes and breakdowns, but in the end the most important statistic is whether you win or lose. It's a lot easier going back to practice and meetings tomorrow to correct those mistakes having beat a team that will win a lot of games this year. We were fortunate to win the game today."

"We've got a lot of work to do to get ready for the Big 12 Conference. We're hoping to get Tony Yelk, Luke Vander Sanden, and Cephus Johnson all back for the Big 12. There's no question those are three of our top players, and yet we win a game without those guys playing one snap today."

"It's huge. We talked to the team at halftime about getting turnovers and making big plays in special teams. It was a big one. We went after one earlier in the first half and they picked it up pretty well. I told Chris Ash to go again and get one. It was tremendous execution by those kids and great effort. You've got to do those things when the momentum is swung their way and we're in a hole. There were a lot of big plays in that game, and fortunately we made more of them than they did."

"It was not a great day for us defensively. But the bottom line was, as I told John Skladany, we won the game. We don't like giving up lots of yards and points. We won the football game and know we've got to get a lot better against Oklahoma State. But still the big plays we made – scoring twice on defense and then on special teams – were things we weren't able to do last year. We're going to have to do that more in the future."

"They executed, made some big plays, and max-protected a lot. It was hard to get to them when they max protect. When that happens, they don't have as many people out and those guys have to make some plays. For a while there was no question that their quarterback and receivers were making more plays than our secondary and linebackers were. A couple of times we just turned guys loose, which is inexcusable."

"He did a real good job and I'm proud of him. He threw for one and should have had to. Austin played like a veteran in the second half, and I was proud of his execution and leadership. We've got two weeks to evaluate, so I'm not going to make a decision today on who is our starting quarterback. I believe we can win with both of them and still love both those kids."

"He's an unbelievable competitor. He not only has talent and size, but he believes he can catch the ball and wants the ball. Some guys have the talent but not the fire inside of them. He wants the ball, wants it thrown, and will go make a play. He's just a tremendous player and his whole career is in front of him. He has a chance to be real special in this league."

"We need (Yelk) badly. Brian was very inconsistent today. It's hard to be too critical of a kid that walked in here as a walk-on and coaches didn't even know his name. That's a tough position to be in. But he was erratic today. I was proud of Scott Krava who stepped in. But obviously when Tony gets back it helps us a lot. He's got a strong leg, is consistent, and will have a great senior year."

"We struggled a lot of the game running the football. They've got a real good physical front seven. We were much better in the fourth quarter running it, but if you're struggling and your PAT and field goal guy is struggling, then you start thinking about going for it more on fourth down."

"It feels five-thousand times better right now (to be 2-1 than 1-2). The morale, attitude, and confidence of those guys being able to still win a game after being in a hole shows a lot about this team."

Tyson Smith:

"Early in the game, after the interception, we kind of let them get back in the game. We weren't really mentally focused and let some things get out of the gate. We were beating ourselves out there."

"The punt block was huge and we needed that. It sparked the offense and the defense to go out and get another stop so our offense could score again."

Erik Anderson:

"They came in and made some big plays all day. They had a bunch of adversity like we did, but didn't bulge. This was a hard-fought battle."

"It says a lot about the character of our team when we come back. Down by as much as were and playing as badly as we were at times, we could have put our tail between our legs and had our heads down. But we came out fired up with our heads up ready to go."

Ellis Hobbs on his punt block:

"I'm usually doing some other type of scheme, and I've never really come up the middle like that before. We had a lot of decoys running through and overloaded one side. It just opened up like the Red Sea."

Todd Blythe:

"That was a 15-round fight right there all the way to the end. It was a fun game to be a part of, but it didn't need to be that close. We had some opportunities to blow the game wide open and we didn't take advantage of it. We need to step it up in the second and third quarters. We were real flat. But this is a big win."

"To come back like we did in the second half – that says loads about our team. Our defense gave up some points, but kept battling and gave us great field position when we needed it. It was a good team effort today."

"The last couple games we had a problem coming out in the first quarter on offense. But today Nik Moser gets a pick, runs it in for a touchdown, and then we score on the first drive. The offense and defense feed off each other. The defense played well today and that got the offense going. Sometimes the offense was flat and I think that carried over to the defense. We've got some mistakes to correct."

Austin Flynn:

"(Coming in to spark this team is) what I thought about all along. I knew I was going to get to play, and when I have the chance I need to produce. Today I probably helped out a little bit more than everyone probably expected. It's something I'm going to keep doing if I need to."

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