McCarney Big 12 Teleconference

Iowa State head coach Dan McCarney met with the Big 12 media via teleconference Monday morning to discuss the Cyclones' home victory against Nebraska, and to look ahead to the team's second bye week of the season. Here are some highlights.

Opening comments:

"I'm very proud of my staff and football team. We got an excellent team victory over Nebraska here Saturday. They're physical, well-coached, and always have great personnel. Bill Callahan is doing a tremendous job over there. We feel very fortunate to get the win. It was a very hard fought victory.

"Our hearts go out to Brandon Brown, my starting linebacker that had surgery yesterday. He is out for the year. That was really the only negative of our victory Saturday. We sure wish Brandon well in his recovery, but he'll be through for the season.

"We are looking forward to the open week. It comes at a good time. We put a lot into recent weeks and had some success, but know we have all kinds of room to improve from the mistakes we made. But this is a young team that's growing, maturing, and improving. We hope to continue that. We'll look forward to playing an outstanding Kansas State team, who has clearly dominated Iowa State through the years."

On any comments from Barney Cotton after game:

"Really, we were ecstatic with the victory. I told him how proud I was of him, and what a great addition he is to this program. I appreciate his professionalism and friendship. I love having he and his wife and family here with us. He's a marvelous addition to the Iowa State family."

On Brown's injury:

"He tore a ligament in his ankle in the fourth quarter of the game. He had surgery yesterday and they had to put a pin in to keep it in place. Hopefully he'll be able to come back and play some football in his career, but it won't be at Iowa State. He's a senior and his career at Iowa State is over. He'll be in a non weight-bearing cast and crutches for about eight weeks. It's really a sad thing for Brandon. We're really appreciative of what he gave to this program in his career."

On replacements at Brown's position:

"Jamarr Buchanan is a former walk-on that we put on scholarship last year. He's gotten some real good valuable playing time coming off the bench. He'll be our starter at Kansas State."

"We'll take a look at Ron Prelow and Taylor Schrage. Boyd Viers has played some WILL and SAM linebacker. Those are the first three that come to mind. We're not about to pull a redshirt off of a freshman that we're holding out right now. This late in the season we're not going to blow a year on them, with just two Big 12 games to go."

On finding offensive identity Saturday:

"We improved, there's no doubt about it. We executed some things real well. But we counted at least four drops where we should have caught the football. One of them would have been a 60 to 70-yard touchdown. But there sure was some tangible improvement and some things that we can build on.

"Of course we're always trying to be more balanced. It was real hard to run the football against Nebraska, and they were in the top 10 in the country against the rush. We rushed for 102 yards, which is not a whole lot to brag about but at times there were some good runs. The one touchdown run by Stevie Hicks was real good.

"But the thing I'm very encouraged about is we have all kinds of areas we can improve on, and yet we are getting better. The kids see tangible evidence of that, and they're getting some rewards for their hard work."

On Tyson Smith's injury status:

"It's just day to day. He just got his knee hit and sprained it in practice. The doctors will re-check him and take the immobilizer off later this week and see how the knee has tightened up. There was no surgery, which is great. That always helps in the possibilities of coming back from a sprained knee. We'll know later in the week if he has a chance to come back for Kansas State. We're hoping that he'll have a chance.

"I don't think Brett Kellogg will have a chance to get back for either of the last two games. But we're hoping Tyson's outlook will be more positive."

On bye week schedule:

"There will be a little bit of change up. It's important that we get some rest for these kids. We've squeezed about every ounce of energy and effort they could possibly give us in recent weeks. We'll get them some rest, and hopefully get caught up or stay ahead in their schoolwork. We'll get a head start on an outstanding Kansas State football team, and then self evaluate as we normally do. We just ran them last night instead of practice. We normally practice and condition. They're off today. We'll get three practices in Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, then I'll give them Friday and Saturday off. Then we're back in game week after that."

On any differences in Bret Meyer's play against Nebraska:

"He's seeing more of the field, and is more confident and comfortable each game that goes by. When we brought him in and redshirted him, I said he was going to be real special some day. It was just a matter of when. He's starting to get there. He's got a lot to learn, and a lot progress and improvement yet to make. But he's not bad for a redshirt freshman. He put up almost 350 yards and three touchdowns, and we had four drops otherwise he could have had another 100 yards. If we would have caught the ball better, he could have had a lot more. He's scratching the surface of the type of player he's going to be, but it's a bright future for Bret Meyer."

On how quarterback race played out with Meyer becoming starter:

"It took some time for this whole thing to play out, as far as who the guy was going to be. Neither one of them was ready for a 70 to 80-play football game as a starting quarterback. That's how we went through that whole process. We took a look at both of them. I felt we were extremely fair with both quarterbacks.

"I was hoping and believing that eventually it would play out to where one of them would be a starter and the other would be a backup. Austin Flynn had played and started some games last year, and Bret had never played a down of college football. It didn't surprise me that it took some time before all the dust settled and we found out who our number one quarterback would be. Bret gives us our best chance, but Austin has to be ready and is one snap away from being the starter."

On leadership displayed by Todd Blythe and Meyer:

"Todd Blythe and Bret Meyer, maturity-wise, are well beyond their years. They want to lead this football team, and are not a bit shy about it. They love to compete. We had something pretty special on our scout-team offense last year with those two guys.

"They used to drive the defensive players, defensive secondary, and defensive coaches crazy down there every day. But I know it was the best decision to hold them. In their careers, God willing they stay healthy, those will be two of the better players this school has ever had. Todd Blythe is leading the conference in touchdown catches with two more games to play in the Big 12. Bret Meyer just gets better each week."

On boosted attitude and morale from winning streak, spot atop Big 12 North:

"Just the opportunity we have. We've clearly improved the last month of the season, and the kids know that and see it. When you know you're improving, it's not something you fabricate. It's not something phony. They see the improvement of the team. The morale is good. Football is a lot of fun, and a lot more fun when you're winning.

"But we knew coming out of Colorado we improved that day as a football team. We had to clean up some mistakes that we made, where we felt like we helped Colorado beat us. But we've improved and building on that. We know we've got two unbelievably tough challenges ahead to finish this Big 12 season. There is a real positive air around this football team right now. It's always fun to go beyond, and hopefully have a chance to go way beyond, what anybody expected us to do before the season."

On possibility of playing in Big 12 Championship game one day:

"It's everybody's dream that comes into the Big 12. I believe this is the premier conference in the country. To have a chance to represent the North some day would be something. I hope I can do it in my lifetime and not have to wait too long."

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