CN: First off, why don't you start with some overall observations from Saturday's victory over Kansas?
Montgomery: This game was a huge step for the Cyclones. They successfully shut down the Jayhawks with extraordinary defense and great ball control on offense. The one thing that the Cyclones lacked on Saturday was the ability to put the team away. We dominated the game but fans that weren't at the game would look at the score and find that hard to believe. We have to find a way to score more points.
CN: Just how big was the Cyclones' ability to strike first against a team that had outscored opponents by a 51-5 margin in the first quarter?
Montgomery: The Jayhawks came into Jack Trice feeling very confident. They had played a very tough schedule and hung with most of the teams they lost to, while getting a huge win over K-State. The key for us was to slow them down quickly and keep them in check. When they came out and we hit them right in the mouth, I think they were slightly shocked.
CN: This seems to be a totally different Iowa State team than a month ago. What are some of the changes you see in the Cyclones?
Montgomery: I am going to stick with the confidence factor. I have been saying all year long that all this team needs is a little confidence. As we keep playing better and gaining confidence we will be hard to beat. The confidence factor can be as important as the fundamentals of the game. If a group of young men come together with a common goal and believe they can achieve that goal they are hard to beat. A month ago this team wasn't sure about what they could do in the Big 12. But after the near win at Colorado and victories the last two weeks the Cyclones are on a roll.
CN: ISU's defense had much more success this week against Kansas than a week ago in Waco. What areas of the unit were improved?
Montgomery: All of the units on the defense had to have been improved to come up with a performance like that. The linebackers and defensive line did a great job of shutting down the run and putting some pressure on the quarterback. Meanwhile, the defensive backs had great jumps on the passes and supported the run nicely. I believe a great week of practice and the electric home crowd were two of the key factors for the superb play of our defense.
CN: Did you notice a different approach out of the Jayhawks after they starting quarterback Adam Barmann?
Montgomery: I really didn't see too much of a difference between Kansas' offensive attitude before and after they lost Barmann. However, the game plan changed significantly, as they were attempting to run the ball more especially with the option.
CN: What can you say for Brent Curvey scoring another touchdown Saturday? Is it just being in the right place at the right time, or is there more to it?
Montgomery: It is ultimately relentless play out of the whole defense. The key factors include great coverage by the defensive backs, along with great pressure from the Cyclones' front seven. The fact that it has been Curvey both times is just lucky for him. I know that everyone on that defensive line is happy for him, but I know that they would love to rumble down the field for a touchdown themselves, too.
CN: ISU's defense continued to force turnovers Saturday, getting four against KU. What are some of the differences you're noticing in this year's group as opposed to last season's?
Montgomery: One of the biggest factors is the level of experience that this year's defense has compared to last year. They seem to put themselves in the right place at the right time, and capitalize on the mistakes of their opponents. The biggest thing this year isn't only the turnovers, but defensive scoring as well. We have scored five times this year with our defense. That is unheard of out of a defense.
CN: Go into the reasoning of head coach Dan McCarney and offensive coordinator Barney Cotton's ground-dominated attack in the second half?
Montgomery: Ball control. Why put the ball up in that wind when we can pound it out on the ground while chewing up the clock and resting our defense? The ability to gain positive yardage and hold onto the ball is what helped us preserve the win on Saturday.
CN: Although some of Stevie Hicks' runs against KU were not pretty, they were also effective. What areas of the Cyclones' rushing attack have changed over the past three weeks?
Montgomery: Stevie is feeling challenged by Jason Scales and is stepping up to the challenge. He is running very similar to how he ran in the Missouri and Kansas games last year. He is running like he knows he can – hard nosed and tough. Stevie isn't falling as easy now, either. He is taking hits, breaking tackles, and gaining tough yards.
CN: How much of an impact has the emergence of Bret Culbertson had on the offense? What will this do for the offense's approach in enemy territory?
Montgomery: If his consistency in the kicking game continues, we should become much more confident in the red zone. When the offense has a 10-play drive, takes the ball into the red zone, and the drive stalls out it is very soothing to know that they will get an automatic three points on the score board.
CN: Give us an idea of what the postgame locker room must have been like. What message did McCarney give to the players about the KU game, and remaining focused for Nebraska?
Montgomery: The post game locker room had to have been very exciting. The excitement of back to back wins in the Big 12 has got our guys feeling good about themselves. I could see the post game festivities lasting for about 24 hours and then the players focusing on Nebraska.
The main message that Coach Mac gave the players after the game had to have been one of confidence, reminding them of the last time that the Cornhuskers visited Jack Trice. They limped away with the Cyclones dominating in every aspect of the game. Another issue that needs to be brought up is that the team is playing for first place in the Big 12 North. This week of practice should be as intense as it gets with the Clones preparing for the showdown on Saturday. We need to make sure we get out and give this team the support they deserve.