McCarney: We finished our spring and it was a very competitive game. We put ones and fours against twos and threes, and spotted the twos and threes 21 points. We shortened the quarters and halftime. We wanted to see if those number ones could rally and come from behind. We got a lot of good work in and ended up with a goal-line stand. It was a fitting finish to a very productive spring. We lost Kyle Van Winkle, the only injury coming out of spring. He broke a collarbone on the right side, which is his throwing arm side. But we fully anticipate him being ready to go in August.
All in all, it was a good spring. The guys that did play and help us have some success last year improved. Some of the guys that played real well for us last year were some of the ones that led the improvement of the football team this spring. You always like to see that. Then there were some new faces and new guys that will have a chance to impact our team.
CN: What was your evaluation of the offense this spring?
McCarney: We were better than we were at any time last spring. We lost four starters on offense and some real valuable guys. But there is no question, Bret Meyer led the improvement and we were better than last March and April. We've still got work to do and some depth issues we have to bring along.
Two of the most dynamic players we have didn't play this spring. Todd Blythe was out with the ACL injury. He was an All-Big 12 guy as a freshman. Scott Stephenson transferred from Minnesota and had to sit out last year. He had shoulder surgery and is without question one of the most physical offensive linemen we have.
We were not a great offense statistically last year, but were good enough to have a winning season and win a bowl game. We're building on that.
CN: What was your evaluation of the defense?
McCarney: We lost some tremendous guys there, including Ellis Hobbs who was the best leader I've had in my career at Iowa State. But there is a good nucleus of guys that we know we can win with in the Big 12 coming back. A few other guys have surfaced that look like they have a chance to be success stories for us. We were real good with turnovers last year and had a lot of scores on defense. We were a much improved rush defense and I'm hoping we can continue to build on that.
I really like the chemistry of our defense and personality that is there. There are some new leaders emerging with the graduation of Ellis Hobbs.
CN: What was your evaluation of the special teams?
McCarney: The kicking game was horrendous Saturday. It's been pretty solid all spring long, but none of the kickers really did a good job in Saturday's spring game. We're much better than we showed Saturday. We have more time put into coverage and blocking and all those things this spring. Hopefully it will show this fall. We definitely improved in the kicking game this past season and need to continue that improvement this fall.
CN: Who were some of the notable contributors on the offensive and defensive lines?
McCarney: Stephenson is one of the most physical guys we have and we're going to put him at center. He did practice some this spring. The doctors let him get into individual work and some inside drills. But they kept him out of all the scrimmage things because of the shoulder surgery he had. He showed us enough where he elevates the play of our offensive line, offense, and especially the interior of our defense. He's going to be a real fine player.
Defensively, I thought Nick Leaders, Brent Curvey, and Shawn Moorehead all picked up where they left off in the bowl championship game. They played real well in that game and all spring. We've got to keep coming along to continue to build the depth.
Overall, I think our offensive and defensive lines by September 3rd have a chance to be salty.
CN: How big was the bowl victory after the frustrating loss to Missouri, and how did that attitude carry into the spring?
McCarney: It definitely carried over. Like all bowl coaching staffs know, it shortens the winter and break between bowl practices and spring ball. That's the way you want it. You sure don't want it the way we had it the year before. Where we noticed the retention the most was the very first day we went out for spring practice, and how much carryover there was.
I think we did make some real strides. We sure are a ways away from the top of the mountain, but we're making strides and climbing it. We won five of our last six games last season and did some real positive things that they should be real proud of, and yet hopefully build on for the future.
CN: There has been some talk about scrapping the divisional structure of the Big 12 and lumping everybody together into one group. Would anybody in the North vote for that?
McCarney: I'd be willing to sure think about it and talk about it. I'm sure it will come up in the meetings when we all get together out in Colorado in May. I haven't put a lot of thought into it. I've been here since the day the Big 12 was formed. I'd have to hear some real good reasons why, because I'm kind of a creature of habit. It has been real competitive, but you don't play every team every year. It's something that will come up and we'll talk about it, in addition to 12-game schedules and everything else that's out there.
CN: What are your thoughts on the 12-game schedule?
McCarney: I'm for it. Everybody has different situations. Anything we can do to get another home game here at Iowa State and help our situation financially and budget-wise, and get another opportunity to play in front of our fans, I'm all for it. We have been in some 12-game seasons and even 13-game season the year we played Florida State in the Eddie Robinson Classic. If you handle it right it could be a real positive.