McCarney Spring Football Quotebook

Cyclone head coach Dan McCarney spoke with the local media Monday morning about various topics surrounding spring football practice. Here is a transcription.

Opening comments:

"Today is eighth practice out of 15, so we'll be a little over halfway done after today's practice. We've gotten a lot done. The best news is we don't have any major injuries through the first half of spring. We hope that will continue the next two weeks. I think we've made good progress, and do have a long ways to go in developing this team. But it has been a productive spring so far."

"The experiments I like. Austin Flynn at wide receiver has done an outstanding job. He is further ahead than I thought he could have been at this stage. Terrance Highsmith, based on Saturday's scrimmage, has moved up to number two quarterback ahead of Kyle Van Winkle. We still have two weeks left, but at the halfway point, he would be coming off the bench first."

"It was a great move for Adam Carper to go from safety to outside linebacker. He has really made progress. He's only had three practices at SAM, but has already gotten the edge at that position. It looks like that's where he'll be the rest of his career."

"We moved Chris Brown from wide receiver. He wasn't going to be in the mix much there. He's doing a nice job. He's not ready to play the teams we have to play this fall, but is doing a nice job at corner."

"Matthew Scherbring, Brandon Johnson, and Tyler Lorenzen are all showing potential. They're not ready to go on the field yet, but I think are some positives moves we made as far as personnel goes."

"I'm pleased with Walter Nickel at tight end. We're listing him as an H. He can go in motion, line up as a tight end, or motion and be a lead blocker. He's been a real nice addition to our program. He'll definitely play in the fall, and looks like a real good receiving tight end."

"Like we thought, Scott Fisher has a lot of potential and is very coachable. He has a long ways to go. He's number two behind Johannes Egbers right now, but is working hard."

"The injuries we had – Jason McGinty's was a pre-spring ball hamstring and hopefully we'll get him back this week. Scott Stephenson's was an out-of-season surgery that he's recovering from, and hopefully he'll get a little more work this week. Kody Kuehl had an emergency appendectomy."

"We got a lot of situations in Saturday's scrimmage. We got red zone, two-minute, goal-line, and short-yardage. We put them on the plus-40 yard line and minus-25 yard line. Overall I thought we were sloppy offensively, and did some good things at times. We've got to be a lot better. Defensively, we were focused, consistent, and did a lot of good things. Defense had the edge coming out of the scrimmage Saturday."

On where this spring ranks compared to others:

"I don't know if it's best yet, but I know we're ahead of last year. Coming out of our 4-7 season where we ended up winning nine games, I know we had a real productive spring. We're definitely ahead of last spring at this time. We know more about our team and who our number ones will be or should be. But we've got a ways to go

"The attitude has been good, the work ethic has been good, and I'm still waiting for some leaders to emerge. There isn't any Ellis Hobbs out there that's just running with it. It's solid at best right now."

On what areas team needs to improve:

"In all areas. The development of this team and getting more guys that we can play Division Big 12 football on game day. I'm still not seeing enough of those guys. We need more guys that are on scholarship that need to help this football team win. Most of the ones we feel pretty good about. It's more of the twos that we're concerned about, so that we don't have to play these ones all game long. We're pressing them and pushing them to step up.

"The other thing is we were real sloppy throwing the ball on Saturday. Just our passing game offensively wasn't very sharp. It wasn't any one person, or that Bret Meyer had a horrible day. He's had a real good spring so far. Just the timing of our offense in the throwing game was below average at best. We need to improve immensely this week."

On Austin Flynn's competition with Milan Moses:

"It's a real good battle. There is no doubt Flynn is going to be in the mix. He's going to be hard to keep out of the starting lineup and just gets better and better. He's just so consistent and coachable. He's one of the better blockers we have at receiver right now, and is more physical than a couple of the guys that played last year.

"He's really established himself as a guy that's going to be an outstanding contributor at wide receiver. Then it will be up to him to be a number one. If we played tomorrow he would play a lot at wide receiver. The competition is on, the heat is on out there right now."

On Terrance Highsmith's work at quarterback:

"Highsmith has been more effective in the two weeks at quarterback and done a better job than he did any time last year at wide receiver. He was below average at best as a wide receiver, and has a chance to be better than that at quarterback."

On if he's concerned with Todd Blythe:

"No, not at all. Not one bit. I trust Todd, our doctors, and our training staff. Not for one second do I think that he won't be here this fall. He'll be in the starting lineup come Illinois State, there is no doubt in my mind.

"He hates sitting there and watching. It's tearing him up. I ask him after every practice how he's doing. He says, ‘I hate this and can't stand it.' It's tearing him up to watch. He's got that same look all the time and there is nothing phony about it. He hates to watch and wants to be in the mix."

On how Highsmith and Meyer compare as quarterbacks:

"He's way behind from an experience and coaching standpoint. But he's done some good things. Todd Fitch challenged him Saturday and wanted to see him run the ball with some authority, whether he was scrambling or it was a designed quarterback run play. He did a good job when we asked him to.

"He may not go to the perfect read or right guy every single time, but his accuracy so far has been pretty good. I like the way he's working. We're not ready to have either he or Van Winkle on the field on game day yet. Those two guys have a long ways to go."

On Meyer rushing the ball more this spring, as he did in bowl game:

"He's just got special talent as a runner. He's not going to get 25 carries a game, but they will always be there. Defenses that face Iowa State's offense are definitely going to have to contain him and tackle him. He'll run the ball. It may not be as many times as in the bowl game. But he's just got special talent and you'd better use him.

"We have seen what Bill Snyder has done with his great quarterbacks at Kansas State, and you saw what Nebraska did with Crouch over at Nebraska. They're doing a great job of using their quarterbacks to run the ball along with throwing."

On lack of fullback in the depth chart:

"We're still using them in short yardage and goal-line, but we're just not doing a lot of two-back out on the field. It's a lot more one-back. But Ryan Kock is still our starting fullback and has played any time we've scrimmaged. But we're also looking at Ryan over on defense to get him on the field more. He wants to play more and we want him to. We've got to get him bigger and stronger to help us there. But it's a good move for him."

On spring surprises on both sides of the ball:

"Austin Flynn and just how effective he's been so fast at wide receiver. It doesn't surprise me with his competitive desire that he's been successful. We've got about 98 percent of offense and defense in, so it's not like we've brought him along slowly. We've thrown it all at him. These next two weeks will be just review for the most part.

"Defensively, the move with Carper and how fast he picked it up from safety to SAM backer. He looks like he's got a chance to be really special. He reminds me a lot of Jeremy Loyd just in the three days he's been there. He made a play in Saturday's scrimmage where he flipped his hips three times before he knocked the ball down. We were trying to get the ball to Nickel. You've got to be an athlete to do that. You've got to have hips, feet, and talent. He's still got to line up against those big physical tight ends in the Big 12, so we've got to get him bigger and stronger. Carper is going to be hard to beat out these next four years at SAM."

On who this year's Shawn Moorehead could be:

"We've always liked Bryce Braaksma. He had his knee scoped before spring ball started during winter workouts, so he's been a little slow coming back. But he will definitely be in the mix. I'm really proud of him. He's got three years left in his career and he has a chance to be a good defensive lineman. He's got the motor, temperament, and will play in the interior part of our defensive line this fall."

On mindset this spring with expectations for team higher:

"There is no doubt the expectations will be higher and they should be. Sixty out of your 85 doesn't mean that all of them can play winning football in the Big 12 yet. That's the job we have to do to develop those kids. They have to have enough pride about themselves to make sure that they're not taking from this program but giving. That means showing up on game day. I'm not going to back off any of them.

"We have great kids and the team is full of character, but I want guys that are on scholarship to show up on Saturdays. They were brought to the program to help us win on Saturdays. Some of those guys in the 60 haven't shown us yet through the spring that we can trust them and put them out there on Saturdays. They've got two more weeks to show us.

"But we do have a good nucleus of kids coming back and some real good playmakers. Tim Dobbins, Brent Curvey, and Nick Leaders are outstanding. Shawn Moorehead is really playing well. Steve Paris is playing real well and DeAndre Jackson is outstanding. We know we've got some guys that can win in the Big 12, but we need more quality ones."

On where Greg Coleman factors in:

"He's the number three tailback right now and needs to improve a lot the next two weeks. He's been OK at best. Stevie Hicks is definitely our starter and Jason Scales is definitely our backup. There is a dropoff from two to three to four right now. Greg really needs to improve.

"He's been a bit of a disappointment, to be honest with you. He needs to step it up for our football team. But we haven't given up on him. He's still a bright young sophomore to be and just came out of his freshman year. He needs to improve his ball security, speed, and make more plays at running back."

On where Blythe is in recovery:

"They feel like he'll be definitely ready. He's in the SWIM-EX right now and Stairmaster everyday. He's doing those things now. The flexibility in the leg is very close to the normal knee. I would assume he's ahead of schedule. He'll jog in June and be sprinting and cutting in July, then definitely ready for August. There is no doubt in my mind that he'll be ready. He's special on the field, in the hospital, and in the recovery."

On the different areas of concern:

"Depth at corner because of graduation and some attrition on the team. We lost the best corner in the Big 12. We need to continue to develop interior defensive line depth right now. We need to continue to find more playmakers on offense. We know we've got one of our best playmakers that's not practicing right now with Blythe. But when he comes back we're going to need a few more. We need to continue to identify some more playmakers. Then the two or three quarterback position, where we have no experience whatsoever."

On candidates at punt return:

"We're taking a look at a lot of guys. Ryan Baum, Milan Moses, Jon Davis, and Terrance Highsmith have all been back there. The trust factor is so important. Who is going to catch it and secure it, first of all, and then see if they've got some shake-and-bake and make some guys miss. We've been very inconsistent so far. We'll go to practice the next two days with Baum as our number one guy."

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