Hoeppner, Betts Preview Matchup with Cyclones

Miami of Ohio head coach Terry Hoeppner and standout quarterback Josh Betts spoke with the media Thursday morning via teleconference on their team's upcoming game against Iowa State in the Independence Bowl. Here is a transcription of their comments.

Terry Hoeppner opening comments

"Miami University is really excited to be a part of this 29th Independence Bowl against a Big 12 Team like Iowa State. Our coaches have been working hard in preparing for the game. It's finals week, so we're not practicing this week. The team is pretty healthy, great reward for a team that has fought through a lot and made it back to the championship game when no one else thought we could. While we didn't win the MAC Championship, a berth in the Independence Bowl is a nice reward for the success we've had."

"Iowa State is going to be a great challenge for us. ISU kept getting better as the season went on and almost made it to their conference championship game. They've also been to the Independence Bowl before, so they have a bit of an advantage. Hopefully we can play Miami football. We'll have to be efficient on offense. Our defense has been good against the run all year, which will be important, and, as always, special teams will be a factor."

Talking About Miami's Offense and Defense

"We were a high-powered offense last year and still have the same structure, same groupings and formations. We have improved throughout the year. We try to be efficient. Early on , we had problems with turnovers, but we got clicking on more cylinders as the year progressed. We try to have balance with running and throwing. Luke Clemens has emerged as our primary ball carrier. The offensive line had some injuries during the season, but we're relatively healthy. We won't have Martin Nance, which was a big blow to our offense, but other guys have stepped up to fill that void."

"Our defense has been good against the run all year and has really kept us in games at times. They were a big reason we were able to get back to the conference championship game."

On Matching Up With Iowa State

"They're not a lot different than some other teams we've seen, in that they haven't shown anything that we haven't seen before. They're in the gun at times and can spread you out. On defense, I know John Skladany from his years in the MAC, so we've coached against each other before. It's always a matter of how you match up when you cross the line and step on the field. Are we as fast, can we play as physical? They're a young team that can be dangerous. We're going to have to play with a lot of focus and emotion, because I know they will."

On Rumors About the Indiana Job

"I'm from Indiana, which is probably why my name has come up. I've spent one-third of my life here at Miami, and my roots are pretty deep. I don't know if I could pull them up if I tried."

Rating Josh Betts This Season

"I give him a B+ for sure. There are things I've said all along. He's tough, intelligent and very resilient. It's one thing to play in games like he did last year, and quite another to be the starting starting quarterback. We wouldn't be where we are right now, without Josh Betts. People will be impressed when they see him play. He throws the ball well, has a strong arm and can get out and run."

On Michael Larkin's Status

"We're day-to-day with Michael and won't know until closer to game time whether he'll be able to go. He's really stepped it up this year, so it would be a big loss for us if we don't have him. He hasn't been able to practice with us yet."

On Iowa State's Defense

"They've been consistent through the year. They keep you in front of them. They don't blitz as much as they did at times last year, but they're very sound defense and sound fundamentally. "

On How Ben Roethlisberger's Success Has Impacted the Program

"The Ben factor and the ESPN factor, getting on TV a number of times this last two season, have had an effect. It's hard to quantify the impact, but we've seen the tangible results. It's helped in the improvements to our stadium and in our recruiting. People know who we are now. Ben is still emotionally tied to the team. He says sometimes he gets more nervous for our games than his. We're happy for his success. It's fun to talk about."

On the Impact of Terna Nande on the Defense

"Terna is one of the faster guys on the team and is becoming a better football player all the time, which allows us to do things with our defense that we couldn't do without his physical skills. He's got strength, speed and agility and we try to maximize that. He has a lot upside, which is the scary part. I think he can get a lot better."

On the MAC Receiving Five Bowl Bids

"It happens this year that there were opportunities for us. We were 10-1 in 1998 and didn't get into a bowl, and last year Northern Illinois beat Alabama and Maryland and didn't get in. We constantly fight for that respect and for that opportunity. Getting into a bowl game is one thing, but being able to play well and win those games would really make a statement, and say that the better teams in this league can play with some of the other top leagues on a day-to-day basis."

Junior quarterback Josh Betts:

On Whether or Not Ben's Success Increased the Pressure on the Program

"The pressure didn't increase with Ben doing well. There were more questions about him and what he did for the University, but the pressure comes from myself and my teammates. Ben doesn't put any more pressure on us than anyone else."

On the Season

"It's been up and down this season. It started off rough. We had some turnovers, and line changes up front. It's been a battle, but it's been interesting to see how we've overcome some of those hurdles. We've done well, made it to the MAC Championship game and get to play in a bowl in Shreveport."

On What He Learned Watching Ben

"It was more visual, seeing the little things he does on the field. We're blessed to have the coaches we have, so we're in a situation to succeed regardless, but there were little things Ben did that I could concentrate on."

On Possibly Not Having Michael Larkin for the Game

"We've had to deal with adversity all season. We've had guys step up. Ryne Robinson has done a great job and Mike has been a rock for this team. He's the heart and soul of this team and a great leader. If he can play, he'll be there because he wants to go out of this University on top."

On Iowa State's Defense

"Right up front, you see that they're physical. They've got good size and speed and have done a great job this year, in holding some offenses down. They have some big, athletic guys in their secondary."

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