McCarney Big 12 Teleconference

Dan McCarney met with the Big 12 media via teleconference Monday morning to discuss his season-opening victory against Illinois State. The head coach also looks ahead to the Iowa game this weekend. Here is a complete transcription of his comments.

Opening Statements -


We're pleased to be 1-0 as all teams are that won their opening game. We've been getting ready for months and months and months for the opening game and we're pleased to get a win.


Denver Johnson had his team ready to play no questions about it. Him and his staff and players did an excellent job. We respect this game that we coach and play and we sure appreciate winning. We know we've got a long ways to go and we better improve immensely in a short period with a tremendous Iowa football team coming in here this weekend. They're one of the best teams in America and they've been that the last three seasons. Three years in a row they've finished in the Top 10 in the country. Just have a tremendous football team no question about it. We're looking forward to it; anytime Iowa State and Iowa match-up on the football field its an exciting game for all of us in the state of Iowa. It's a 2:30 kickoff on ABC, it should be a lot of fun and we appreciate ABC coming and doing the game.


Bret Meyer got off to a good solid start. He was 30-out-of-41 for 314 yards had a touchdown, no interceptions. His accuracy was real good overall and the great thing is there's plenty of room to improve with his performance coming out of Saturday. He's a real special young man, a lot of years and a lot of eligibly left at Iowa State and I think the best is yet to come in his future here at Iowa State.



This weekend is a big game in Iowa, but do you get a sense the Iowa state boarders can't contain the interest of this game?


Yeah, I think so. There are 28 bowl champions from this past season and two of them are here in the state of Iowa. Iowa of course has brought exposure to their program, their football team and Kirk Ferentz a great job he's done. We're going into the game obviously as an underdog. Both teams are 1-0, obviously Iowa played much better in their opener than we did in ours but we're still both 1-0 and I think it makes for a lot of excitement. We're looking forward to it, I think it's turned into a great college rivalry and it seems like more and more of the country is starting to figure it out.



How about the state of Iowa football.


I think it's a great state I really do, I think there's success at both programs and Kirk's been able to take it to a real high level in the last couple of seasons. We're both doing a lot of positive things and as an Iowa native it means a lot to me to see both these schools doing real well.


I think it's real relevant to the talent that we have here in the state. Everybody said you can't have both –both programs can't be successful in football. Yes, you can; yes, we do. I think it goes right back to the programs that are in place and the people in the state of Iowa should be real proud of both of them.



How important is winning the Iowa game for instate recruiting?


I think it's important. When we won in 1998 after 15 years when Iowa dominated Iowa State there's no question it helped us recruit at the that time. But I don't sense that there are kids sitting around waiting to for the final score to make a final decision whether they're going to Iowa State or Iowa depending on the outcome of the game Saturday.


It has to do with a period of time, over a number of games, the opportunity that's here and kids are kids. They all want to go be successful they want to get some rewards for their hard work and know that they can go some place and have a chance to be successful and that's what I think both programs provide now.



First Iowa StateIowa game with instant replay. How did it go at your scrimmage a couple weeks ago?


So far there weren't any big issues or anything controversial. Obviously it will be in place this week with more technology, more cameras and those kinds of things. I think we're all in agreement that anything we can do to get the calls right and give the players opportunity to win football games I'm all for it.



You had strong things to say after the game about how team looked in first half. After you went back and looked at the tape was it as bad as you thought it was?


Yes, especially offensive. Just some things that were uncharacteristic of not only this team that we've been coaching since last March, but uncharacteristic of our program. We had first and goal on the three yard line, going in we fumble. We fumble another ball and Illinois State picks it up and runs it back 69 yards for a touchdown. We've had less fumbles by our running backs than any college team in the country in my 10 years here. I just think very uncharacteristic.


We get a touchdown called back with a holding call and a field goal blocked. Just things that are very, very frustrating and disappointing to see in the first half. And yet defensively we got on the field and their first six possessions were three and out, which is about as good as you can start. We scored, we blocked two kicks, had a chance on Jason Berryman's interception to score on defense. He took it to the half yard line. So a lot of real good things defensively.


The way we struggled in the first half on offense we really credit Illinois State and the great job they did, but we feel like we were really hurting ourselves and taking points off the board and we should have never done that.


But we got to get it corrected in a hurry. Here come the Hawkeye's and they're going to be a great football team coming in.



Will there be a change in the kicker?


Yeah, definitely. We didn't know what to expect. Tony Yelk had not kicked PATs or field goals in a couple of weeks. We've been trying to limit what he does after him being out all of last season with a leg injury. He was our special teams MVP and just did a great job for us. I was really proud of him. He's such a weapon on kick-offs. We didn't have him at all last season. He had three touchbacks…on the six kicks, three of them we tackled them inside the 20. It all started with his kicks. He was 3-out-of-3 for PATs and had a 25 yard field goal, so he's definitely our starting kicker going into

the game this week.



Will he be kicking in all field goal situations?


Yeah, I think so. We're going to evaluate this week, but I think that's probably what will happen. Bret Culbertson, who was our starter last year, missed some practices last week, he was not available Saturday and hopefully he'll be back in mix again this week. It's hard to bench your MVP on special teams after what he did on Saturday.



Could you talk about the progression Meyer has made at quarterback in the last year? What things do you like from him?


At this time last year even after the first game we played we were still rotating and trying to evaluate and make sure Bret Meyer was our No. 1 quarterback. He was in a good battle with Austin Flynn. So he didn't know and we didn't know because he had not pulled away from Austin. We weren't even sure if he was our best quarterback at the time. He did start all the games but we were clearly splitting time with him and Austin…but that's not the case any more. Bret's our guy and everybody in this football family knows that.


A couple of the things that you notice the most is his accuracy; he was 30-out-of-41. It's been that way since the bowl game, through spring ball, through scrimmages and fall camp and it showed up again on Saturday. I think his arm is a bit stronger and I think his accuracy is clearly better. He has really improved as a leader. He was elected as one of our captains as only a sophomore. It's not a popularity contest, he is generally a leader of our football team and I just think he brings a great presence, and calm and yet competitive fire to our offense


Do you think he's more comfortable in the pocket?


No question, no question about it. The better protection we can give him, the better results you'll get. He has just stepped up.



Anything about the offensive line the other night worry you?


We need to improve immensely. I was real impressed with some of the things that Scott Stephenson did. It was his first start since transferring from Minnesota. Not only start but play 82 snaps in the game. He did a lot of real good things for his first game.


But we have a lot to be desired in our offensive line and especially with our rush game. It's not acceptable. It isn't all offensive line, Stevie Hicks had missed a lot of practices and he clearly missed on some reads and some cuts in the game. But they were way, way below average and par with our rushing game and that better pick up real fast in the next couple of days.



Did you play backups on the offensive line?


When you play a close hard fought game like we did there wasn't a lot of opportunities to put some of the other guys, so those five went the distance.



Will Tony Yelk do both kickoff and field goals?


Yeah, we'll evaluate. There's no question he's our best kick-off guy. He's got a strong, strong leg and then we'll evaluate the PAT/field goal stuff. But I was just really proud of him and the job he did after we stunk it up the first two kicks. We missed a short field goal and we get a PAT blocked – the first one in two years.


Any concerns about re-injury?


I think you always worry about that… We're worried that it could come back again, but we don't want to overdue it. Troy Blankenship is definitely our starting punter and Tony is No. 2 there. We will be real conscious of that and sensitive so he doesn't wear that leg out, but he really has a strong leg and an accurate leg based on what we saw Saturday.

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