McCarney Big 12 Teleconference

Iowa State head coach Dan McCarney met with the Big 12 media via teleconference Monday morning to look ahead to the start of his team's conference season in Stillwater on Saturday. The Cyclones will match up with Oklahoma State at 1 p.m. Here is a complete transcription.

Opening comments:

"We feel like we had a very productive open week. It allowed us to get some things done with this team that we needed to. We improved as a football team, and the real measure will be on game day. We're glad to be back in Big 12 play, another season.

"We have a tremendous challenge with an outstanding Oklahoma State team. They're not only undefeated, but have been playing dominant football. Les (Miles) and his staff have done an outstanding job. I think they're outscoring people almost 43 points a game to 16, and have been a very dominant team through their first few games.

"Their running back, Vernand Morency, is the real deal and he is leading the nation in rushing. But they're just a complete football team when you watch them on tape. We know we've got an outstanding challenge down at Stillwater this weekend."

On more physical OSU team than last time two squads played:

"It's noticeable. There is no doubt that Les and his staff have done an outstanding job of recruiting. They're a very talented team, physical, strong, all of the above. You sure see it on tape. That's a team that played in the Cotton Bowl last season. I know Les said in the spring that that was going to be his most talented, fastest team that he's had at Oklahoma State. They look like it on tape. They're very well coached, you don't see any weaknesses, and they're playing with a lot of confidence. They look like a better football team than 24th or 25th in the country."

On team's smash-mouth offensive approach versus recent years:

"They're doing that, but they're sure very capable of throwing the ball with Woods, their quarterback, and their receivers. They've got some fast, athletic guys. But when you're averaging 333 yards a game rushing the football, we know that to have a chance to win this game we're going to have to be really outstanding against the run. They're doing a great job of it. Their offensive line and tight ends are extremely physical, their fullback is big and physical, and then you've got one of the top running backs in all the country running the football."

On Cyclones' rebound in 2004:

"We have a close football team, a team that was disappointed and embarrassed about last season. We've all come back with more determination and commitment to put ourselves back in position to be successful, and getting some respect back to this program.

"It's really helped (to stay healthy). We've still had three of our best players out the last couple weeks, but we're hoping to get at least a couple of those kids back. We're hoping through this unbelievably challenging Big 12 schedule that we can stay as healthy as possible and hopefully a lot more healthy than we were last year."

On matching up against strong rushing team:

"There is no doubt about it. This is a tremendous offense that we're going to see. They're big, strong athletic offensive linemen; big, strong, physical, athletic tight ends; big, strong, physical, athletic fullbacks; and the wide receivers are athletic. They're not just out there looking for receptions and catches. They are good blockers and take pride in it. They've got tremendous running backs and it's not just Morency. They put three of them out there that are all fine Big 12 running backs."

On status of three injured players:

"For sure Luke Vander Sanden will be back. He's practicing and doing well. He only played 14 snaps at Iowa and didn't play a snap against Northern Illinois. It's just kind of day-to-day with Cephus Johnson and Tony Yelk. We'll see how they're doing. They've definitely improved from a health standpoint, but we'll have to see as practice goes along."

On status of kicking situation:

"It's an ongoing evaluation. That's a real weakness of our football team – the backups and guys that have been trying to do the job since Tony's been out of the lineup. We've struggled with it. We're last in the Big 12 in PATs and field goals made. It's very disappointing. We put a lot of time into it in the off week and will continue to evaluate those guys. When you're as inconsistent as we have been kicking the ball, we'll continue to evaluate all this week."

On rotation this week for quarterbacks:

"We'll start Bret Meyer and both quarterbacks will play. I think everybody on this football team likes the way that's going right now. We'll continue to play both of them. For our offense, it's best for us. Those are two of our better offensive players and we don't want either one of them standing on the sidelines for a whole game. They both need to play and help our offense."

On running game improvements during bye week:

"I think (Stevie Hicks) had a good week. We challenged our offense; not only Stevie but all of our offensive guys. We need to do a better job of running the football. That's yards-per-carry, rushing yards in the game, and yards-after-contact for all of our running backs. We've left a lot to be desired in our rush game. It's a little improved over last year at this team coming out of non-conference. We just need to do a better job. Barney Cotton, my offensive line coach and coordinator, has really addressed it and worked on it. Hopefully we'll do a better job of running the football this week."

On wide receiver Todd Blythe:

"He's doing a wonderful job for us. We thought we had somebody pretty special when we signed him. It was an Iowa State-Iowa recruiting thing all the way, and we were able to get him to come to Iowa State. We just needed to redshirt him last year. It was tempting at times to try and pull the shirt off when we were struggling, but it was definitely best for Todd. He's got five touchdown catches in three games, and is off to a good start. He's all of 6-5 and is athletic, tough, and competitive. He'll get better and better the more he plays."

On strides made in Cowboy program:

"Everything has improved. Their football team, athleticism, talent, depth, and success have all improved. They're a team that plays with great confidence and have won 17 games over the last two years since the last time we played them. There's no question they've done an excellent job of evaluating and recruiting wherever they've gone."

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