Iowa State quotes from Big 12 Media Day

ISU head coach Dan McCarney was joined by quarterback Bret Meyer, linebacker Tim Dobbins and nose guard Nick Leaders, at the Big 12 Conference's annual media day on Tuesday in Houston. Here's a look at what the Cyclones' had to say about gaining respect, expectations and more!

The following is a transcript of the media's interview with Dan McCarney, quarterback Bret Meyer, linebacker Tim Dobbins and nose guard Nick Leaders at the Big 12 Media Days in Houston. It was provided by the conference:

 

PETER IRWIN: At this time we would liketo welcome Iowa State, Coach McCarney, it's always a pleasure to have you here. If you will introduce the players for us and make a couple brief comments, we will take questions from the floor.

 

COACH McCARNEY: Thanks, Peter. Great to be back in the day of hiring, spring, moving, jumping, guys going all over the place, guys not being in one place very long, I promise you it's great to be here again.

 

All the way down to the left, Nick Leaders, senior, to be defensive lineman. He was taken in the Big 12 last year since he has been starting in the second game of his career in Iowa State as a freshman. It is hard to find a defensive lineman that comes in and plays great football.

 

Next is Tim Dobbins, Mississippi Junior College, Big 12 defensive newcomer of the year. He will be a senior this year.

 

Directly to my left is Bret Meyer, the offensive MVP is a red-shirt freshman from Atlantic, Iowa. Great to see everyone.

 

Before I get started I know all of us in the Big 12 family offer our deepest sympathy to Aaron O'Neal and his family, and the Missouri Tiger football family. It's just hard to even fathom what it must be like to be going through what all those family members are going through right now, because all these young guys are working out this time of year, and to deal with a tragedy like that is really, really tough. Our deepest sympathy to Aaron and his family, and Gary Pinkel and the Missouri football family.

 

We are excited to be here. We appreciate the opportunity to spend some time with you. It's not a short trip from Ames to Houston, but there is a direct flight and it's great to see you. We are looking forward to this next season. We ended up at the end of last year as the second most-improved team in college football.

 

There are two good things about that, number one, you have to be really bad the year before, and then you have to be really darned good in the year after. That's exactly what happened to Iowa State last year, and we did a lot of good things. It wasn't the youngest team I had in my career at Iowa State, but that doesn't insure any victories this season. We have more questions this year than we did last time this year. I appreciate the opportunity to be here in the best conference in college football.

 

Q. Mike (inaudible) with the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

 

For Nick, many years at this time you have been there, players have been defending the program, talking about the lack of respect that you get, and now you are second in your division, and a lot of people think you have got a really good chance to win it. Do you feel that that respect is now justified, and talk about the reasons why you think you may be that good.

 

NICK LEADERS: We started getting respect after coming off two back-to-back bowl games, obviously going 20-10 a few years ago didn't help that.

Last year really helped get our respect back, and people are starting to hear about Iowa State and recognize us around the country. It is a game with a lot of hard work and dedication for our team.

 

Q. You talk about you have a lot fewer questions. I wonder if you could talk about the quarterback position.

 

COACH McCARNEY: For me, Tim? I'm sorry. Obviously, I am sleeping a little bit better at nighttime because of the guy sitting next to me. He started 12 games. He led us to a bowl victory. He led us to a co-championship in the Big 12 North. You know, everybody said Big 12 North was way down, and so what, big deal, you got a trophy. It's the first trophy they have had since 1912 for any kind of championship in Iowa State. We are proud of it, walk by it every day. We couldn't have done it without the maturity and improvement and the hunger of Bret Meyer sitting next to me.

 

This time last year he hadn't played a snap and hadn't played Big 12 football, and knowing what a starter was all about. There is a tremendous upside to Bret Meyer. He has room to improve. He knows I know it. His coordinator knows that, and he is hungry every day to try to get better.

 

So we will take what he did last season, great tremendous accomplishment as a freshman, red-shirt freshman, named second team, third freshman team, that's all and good, but the best is yet to come from Bret Meyer if he stays healthy. It is just a matter of improving, doing the little things right, and picking up where he left off last year. One of the reasons that we were able to turn that thing around and have the season we did, we were 12th in the country from a turnover ratio standpoint with a freshman quarterback. How many times have you heard of that? That is a guy that respects football, understands what we are asking him to do, and a punt boots the heck out of a turnover, and Bret did a great job of protecting the football for us last year as a freshman.

 

Q. Coach, Steve from the Lincoln Journal Star. First publication that picked you to win 12 North, how comfortable are you in that favorite role, and do you feel like you belong there?

 

COACH McCARNEY: People aren't just quite sure. I have seen us picked to win the North, seen us picked fourth, the top 25, 50th or 60th in the Big 12. Part of that is a reflection of the last 30, 40, 50 years at Iowa State. We have some holes to fill. We are not loaded with NFL talent.

 

You know, Mel Kiper didn't spend a lot of time in Ames, Iowa last year getting ready for draft day. We had one player drafted. This is a young program and a young team, but we coached him, we played with our backs against the wall.

 

We have rewritten the history books at Iowa State. We have done things the school and program has never done in football, and yet we have lots and lots of room to improve. I am proud of what we have done.

 

I am excited about the future. I like a new place with kids coming back, but we are not going to sit around and pat ourselves on the back very long because challenges are out there, and everybody wants a piece of Iowa State. That was when we were 2-10 and when we were ball champions.

 

Q. Bret, would you talk about how much better you feel about the offense second year under a new offensive coordinator and the experience that you have gained.

 

BRET MEYER: I definitely have a lot more confidence going into the huddle. Just for spring ball from the end of the season, I can tell a big difference. I feel like I know where the ball needs to go, when it needs to get there. Overall running the huddle, being the leader on and off the field, I feel more comfortable. Running 7-on-7 sessions in the summer, pulling guys aside when they are not doing something right. Everything that entails being a leader, I feel I am a lot more comfortable with.

 

Q. Mac, with greater expectations, will you coach differently, talk to these guys differently?

 

COACH McCARNEY: I am not going to change a whole lot, Lee. What you see is what you get. For some people, that's okay. For some people, they get nauseated. We are going to do everything we can to try to continue to bring respect back to our program.

 

Obviously, our expectations will be a little higher of ourselves than they were last year at this time when we weren't sure. We sat down and we have talked about this, my guys and I, and my coaches, we have talked about this a lot of times, we have set 15, 16,18, 20 goals. Last year I set one goal, I walked into the first team meeting I had, I said, "I want to be one of the most improved teams in America." My coaches looked at me -- and my guys -- like I had three heads. When the dust settled, there was one that improved more, and that was UTEP, University of Texas El Paso. There was meaning behind it. They bought into it.

 

When we lost to Colorado out in Boulder and people said, "Mac, do you see this thing spiraling downward like a year ago?" And the hair was starting to stand up on my neck a little bit. I saw them growing, improving, getting better. We should have won this game. I give credit to Colorado and Gary

Barnett. They won the game. We are coming out here feeling like we have improved immensely. We won five of our next six, had chances to win six

of our next six. Now we put ourselves in a position we should be competitive. But nobody is throwing Iowa State out there and saying, "Is this the team

everybody in America should be talking about?" We know that. We are Iowa State. We are going to be a better football team. We have a lot of good young kids that experienced some success last year. They liked it. They enjoyed it. They understand what it took to get there, and let's pick up where we left off in 2004.

 

Q. Coach, can you talk about, obviously, a lot of your upswing a couple years ago was due to Seneca. Can you compare Bret's ability to his, and where he stands at this point in his career.

 

COACH McCARNEY: I know this much, he has talent, a good arm, good feet. He has tremendous maturity. His class, his integrity, you know, there are certain guys you would like to really, really love to have your daughter date. Bret Meyer is one of those guys. I have an 18-year old and 16-year old, and stay away from them, would you, Bret.

 

You know what, there are certain kids that come along, if they were dating your daughters, boy, would you love that. Bret Meyer is one of those kinds of kids. That speaks well about the type of young man he is and the family he comes from.

 

The neat thing is this is a freshman. We are talking about a freshman who is an offensive MVP from a bowl game, from a bowl victory team as a freshman. He is getting coached hard every day by Todd Fitch. He is getting coached hard by Barney Cotton.

 

Sometimes it is not fun to run the sidelines after throwing an interception or mistake because we hold our guys accountable, but he is the first guy to take responsibility, and that's why those intangibles, to me, are so similar to Seneca Wallace, that he is his harshest critic, own harshest critic. He is a great young man. On game day you might go down with Bret Meyer, and junior/senior prom you would like to have your daughter with Bret Meyer.

 

Q. Did you find a big difference when you, Iowa State, recruited? Did kids want to pay more attention? Also, did you notice a perceptive change (inaudible)?

 

COACH McCARNEY: You are talking to me? Yes, we have -- it's a slow process. You stop and think 100 years go by and Iowa is in four bowl games. We have been in four the last five years. It's a process and it takes time. I knew it was going to take some time. Slowly but surely people are starting to say there are some pretty good things going on in Iowa State.

 

We are going to shadow the all-time record on season ticket sales in the next few weeks. We want to do everything we can to go to our fifth bowl game in six years. These kids are wearing rings that say Big 12 North champions along with Independence Bowl champions, they can show their kids and grandkids someday. When people said we were going to be 90th in the country, they have some things to be proud of.

 

The best is yet to come and Bret's best is ahead. We never met a head coach or noseguard or linebacker that is not excited. We all think we can win. There are some real tangible things we can point to in our program saying Iowa State is a team you better be ready for. We were named the Big 12 coaching staff of the year, and they have kids that believe, and when the dust settles in 2005-2006, we hope Iowa State is one of the teams you are still writing about.

 

Q. Given the disappointment of the Missouri game last year, what did it tell you about your team that you all were able to come back and win the bowl game, and how important is that as far as setting things up for this year?

 

COACH McCARNEY: I will let Bret answer that first.

 

BRET MEYER: I think it was big, definitely, being a young team. When you lose a game like that with a lot riding on it, it can be devastating. It helped we didn't play a game the next week, had a little extra time to let it go. When we came back we were ready for the bowl game. Obviously, like you said, when you have time off, for a young team, it is important to get right back, talk about winning, instill confidence in everybody. I think we did that. Coming off actually winning the bowl game gave us a lot more momentum in the year.

 

COACH McCARNEY: Couldn't have said it any better myself, Randy. We all want to be part of the bowl system because of Kevin Weiberg and Donny Duncan, the job they have done in the Big 12 right now, we read about it, hear about it, we know the bowl line-up, and adjustments are going to be made the next year. The rewards and opportunities at the end of the season in the Big 12 are unbelievable. We are going to do everything we can so you will be writing some things about us in December in years to come.

 

PETER IRWIN: Gentlemen, thank you


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