McCarney Spring Ball Quotebook 2

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

Dan McCarney's opening comments:

"We've got 12 of the 15 practices complete, obviously, and have three real important ones left. The health is pretty good overall."

"Brandon Hunley, one of our redshirt freshman defensive backs, broke his hand Saturday. He is having surgery as we speak. There will be a plate and screws put in. He'll miss the last three days of spring, but will definitely be ready for fall. I'm very impressed with the improvement he's made. It's just a freak thing that happened on Saturday."

"Todd Blythe is doing great and is right on schedule, if not ahead of schedule. Kody Kuehl had an emergency appendectomy, so he has not practiced at all. He's way behind, not being here this spring."

"Scott Stephenson won't play Saturday in the spring game. He's not been cleared enough to scrimmage, but has definitely been doing some individual drills and getting some inside drill work. There is no question in my mind, if he stays on the practice field this fall he'll be a starter for us September 3rd. He's got a great future here in the two years he's got left at Iowa State. He's an outstanding football player and one of the most physical players we have on our team."

"Bastian Schober and Scott Fisher had some practice injuries yesterday, and don't appear to be serious. Hopefully they'll be recovered and ready to go on Saturday."

"I might also mention something on Cory Wierson. He got brought into the program a couple of years ago, and had a real serious knee injury. He's been on a medical since then. He's battling Hodgkins' Disease right now. He's about halfway through his chemotherapy treatments, and will be through about the third week of June. He's doing real well and is there every day helping Mike Motl's video staff."

"We talk about this all the time as we progress through spring, these are the kids who I think have shown tremendous improvement so far this spring.

"Defensively, Brent Curvey is playing like an all-league defensive lineman right now. Tim Dobbins is playing like an all-league linebacker. Matt Robertson is clearly one of the most improved players on our team. He got a lot of experience last year, but is playing faster, more athletic, and is much more of a factor in pass defense than in past years. Adam Carper at SAM linebacker has been one of the great moves on our football team. He and Nick Frere have four years to play, so I think that position is going to be manned real well the next couple of years. Caleb Berg, one of our backup safeties, is playing much better than he ever did anytime last year as a redshirt freshman.

"Offensively, Johannes Egbers has really had a tremendous spring. I think every player and coach will tell you that he's our number one left tackle going into the last three days. Aaron Brant is much better than he was at any time last spring. Jason Scales has really gotten better. We knew we had something pretty special when we signed him out of high school, but these last two scrimmages he has really played well. Austin Flynn has had a tremendous spring. He's still learning and in the growing stage of that position, but has done an outstanding job."

On other positions he feels about, with surprise players:

"I feel pretty solid about all those starters on defense right now. We're more set with who our number ones are on defense than we are on offense. We're pretty well set overall who our starters are on defense. Offensively that is not the case. We are still in the midst of trying to make some decisions.

"We looked at Seth Zehr yesterday in the scrimmage at left tackle. He's scrimmaged at guard and played center a lot. We're still trying to find our best five combination, knowing that Stephenson should be one of them. The competition is still going real strong."

On areas he is most concerned with:

"Most of them I feel pretty good about with our ones. We have some real concerns with our twos right now. There are a number of them I'm not comfortable we can win games with. We're going to keep the pressure on, the accelerator down, and heat on these guys to perform. Some positions I feel very good about the twos, like Nick Frere and Jason Scales, but I can't say that about every position on our team."

"There isn't any major disappointment as a unit or side of the ball through this spring. But we sure have a lot of work to do. We are not as consistent throwing the ball this spring as we'd like to be offensively. That's routes, protection, quarterbacks, and all of those things. We have not been nearly as good we were last year at times throwing the ball."

On the spring game making or breaking anybody:

"We're still looking for that number two quarterback. It's been back and forth all spring long. You see Kyle Van Winkle based on Saturday's scrimmage and yesterday's that he's our number two going into tomorrow. He has been better than Terrance Highsmith. But it's been very inconsistent there.

"There has been a good battle at tight end. Ben Barkema is definitely our starter, but we want to see some of those guys continue to step it up. Walter Nickel is still a better receiver than blocker, but has been a good addition."

On kicking situation:

"There has been good competition. It doesn't help Tony Yelk that he misses a week of practice with a quad. We will start Bret Culbertson as our number one PAT/field goal kicker Saturday. We'll start Troy Blankenship as our number one punter.

"Tony is recovered now and healthy, but he missed a whole week. That's a lot of work, scrimmage, and evaluation. He still has the strongest leg on our football team, but you've got to be there, perform, and be consistent. Corey Paetznick has done a good job as a kicker, the transfer from Northwest Missouri State."

On chances of Austin Flynn ever returning to quarterback:

"No, not at all. We don't plan on it. If something happened to Bret Meyer in the spring game or in the Illinois State game, would we ever consider moving him back? Possibly. It would depend on the development and improvement of Highsmith and Van Winkle. Then we've got a freshman quarterback coming in that we think is a good player. We know Austin is one of our best wide receivers and plan on leaving him there."

On Tyler Lorenzen moving from tight end to wide receiver:

"He's a pretty good receiver as a tight end, but is just not physical enough to be a blocking tight end. We moved him to an inside receiver's spot, because he's got good hands and is a big target. He has established himself as a guy that will play next year. Can he continue to grow and fill out to be a blocking and receiving tight end? Hopefully, but meanwhile we're going to move him to wide receiver."

On some walk-ons to watch in the spring game and next fall:

"Bryce Braaksma in the defensive line clearly will play next year. Trent Claussen in the offensive line. Travis Cruise, a mid-year transfer from Ames, is not in the two-deep right now but I like his future. We all know about Culbertson and Lorenzen. Matt Wood in the defensive line. Roger Wright at cornerback. Depending on their summer preparation and two-a-days those guys have a chance to play and contribute next year."

More on Braaksma:

"He's 250 pounds and is holding his own. He's relentless and athletic. He and Collins Eboh are still a little but under-sized, but both of them are clearly in our plans defensively for next year. They're getting better all the time. It's just a matter of getting more reps for Braaksma. Every offensive player respected him for the job he did on the scout team last year. He's got a real bright future. He just needs to get bigger and stronger right now, because he's got the motor, toughness, temperament, and good feet."

On defensive domination over offense:

"It's not been a slam-dunk domination by our defense all spring. But I am very pleased with the defense. We lost four really good defensive players and the best defensive player we had in Ellis Hobbs. There is a personality about our defense and some talent. We need some more depth, but they're doing some good things."

On this being strongest defense up the middle:

"I think it was that way last year and all of those guys are back inside. Nick Leaders, Brent Curvey, Tim Dobbins, Steve Paris, and Nik Moser. That's the heart of your defense in the middle and that's as good as it's been since I've been here."

On where team is compared to end of bowl preparations:

"We're not as good of a team as we were at the bowl game, but we're clearly ahead of last spring at this time. I'm real impressed with the way these kids have come to practice and scrimmage. It's been a long physical spring."

On secondary's ability to force turnovers like it did last year:

"We lost one of the great ones in Ellis Hobbs, with interceptions and scoring, but I think we have some big play ability in our secondary. Nik Moser did a great job of making plays on the ball last year in the pass defense game. We've challenged our kids. Now there are some standards there, scoring the second-most offensive touchowns in the country. We finished second in the Big 12 and 12th in the country in turnover ratio. Defensively, we've got some guys that can do that."

On reasoning behind getting Zehr more work at tackle:

"We want to get the best five out there. I'm really pleased with his improvement. When you start figuring Stephenson back in the mix, one of the most physical players we have, who moves out? Is it Fabian Dodd, Seth Zehr, Kory Pence, or Aaron Brant. Brant isn't going anywhere. Plus, Zehr has grown up to 295 pounds and has the body of a guy who could play tackle, guard, or center. The kid knows what whole front and can play any of those five positions. By September 3rd, we'll get our best five out there, but I couldn't tell you who they are for sure."

On contingency plan if Zehr moves to tackle:

"Stephenson has already practiced at center. He's gone individual drills and inside drill at center and guard, so he has a chance to play either one. He's a physical force no matter where you line him up."

On some goals for spring game:

"We don't want to keep those officials busy like we did on Saturday. There were too many penalties and we cleaned that up yesterday for the most part. I'd like to see a good hard-hittin' game. I would like to see the ones come from behind to win the game and execute. I hope our ones will enjoy playing together. When it's all over, hopefully the fans, media, our team, and coaches all feel good about this fall. We know what our strengths and weaknesses are right now. There are a few opportunities for newcomers to get into the depth."

On Scales' emergence in last week or two:

"He's playing quicker, faster, and making some hard runs for us. When we get down there in the red zone, he's a guy that's been a good back for us running the ball. He's explosive and is playing with a lot of confidence right now. Stevie Hicks is our starter, but right now the dropoff seems to be less and less all the time. Scales has had a real good couple of weeks now."

On thoughts of moving Greg Coleman to defense, given the play of Hicks and Scales:

"Not yet. He's improved. We were disappointed early in the spring, but Saturday and Monday were his two best practices of all the spring. We're not about to give up on him, because he has definitely gotten better. John (Skladany) has always talked about giving Greg Coleman a shot over on defense, because he's a tough kid that likes to play the game. But we're definitely going to leave him at running back right now, then see how things go when the new guys get here."

On thoughts of Flynn returning kicks and punts:

"Yeah, we're looking at him back there. Because he's got a knack with those hands, we'll take a look at him at kick returns and punt returns. It's more likely he might be back on a kick return, but we're going to look at both of them again in the fall."

On who would return kicks in the fall:

"We're not going to do them at all on Saturday. DeAndre Jackson is definitely our starter and probably Scales would be the other one."

AllCyclones Top Stories