McCarney Press Conference

ISU head coach Dan McCarney met with the media Tuesday morning to discuss his teams' win over Illinois State. He also looks ahead to the weekends game with Iowa.

Thanks for coming. It's a real special week. Obviously other than those five years I was in Madison I've been in the state of Iowa my whole life, I know the meaning of this game and how special it is. It's an honor to be here and get a chance to coach in this game.


Obviously we've got a really outstanding Iowa football team coming in, legitimate top 10 football team. Who's on a nine game winning streak and barely got a decent scrimmage out of Ball State last Saturday. It was over about as quickly as any game I've watched or seen or heard about in college football. That's how quick that thing was over.


Huge challenge, big, big challenge with Kirk and his football team coming in here, but it's a great opportunity. A great atmosphere and we are really looking forward to this weekend.


I'll update you on just a few things and then open it up like we always do.


Our MVPs from the Illinois State game.


The offensive coaches didn't feel that one player really earned an offensive MVP honor. We had some guys that played well and made just enough mistakes that they didn't deserve an MVP award.


Defensively, Jason Berryman, lots of tackles, tackles for a loss, interception, sack. Just really, really played well. He didn't play the whole game like we had talked about. We have three starters for those two outside positions but the time that he was out there he was very effective.


Our special teams' MVP is Tony Yelk, who really stepped up for our football team during a time that we need him badly; he did a great job.


Special teams' captain for the Iowa game will be Troy Blankenship, our punter who did such a marvelous job Saturday - 46 yard average. Put one out at the one yard line and just kicked with great confidence. We'll get as much pressure from Iowa this week than any team in the country they do a great job of pressuring punt teams and punters. So what a really amazing challenge we'll have this week and Blank's going to have be at his best as our entire punt team will have to be.


I think the health of the team is real good overall. Scales is questionable to whether he'll play this week or not. He continues to improve but to go out and play in a game this magnitude and as physical as this thing is going to be I think he's very questionable at this time.


Anybody else who either missed the game last week or came out of the game with a minor injury I think will be ready by Saturday, so we'll take it day-by-day and evaluate. You know I can't make predictions, there's not guarantees when you're dealing with injuries but there was definitely nothing that would keep anybody out for an extended period of time, so that was the good news coming out of Saturday's game.


We really appreciate ABC coming to Ames and Mike Tirico and Tim Brant for coming in for the game. It should be a real exciting weekend for all of us.


Kirk's done a tremendous job as all of us know in this room with the program at Iowa. They've got a lot of talent, a lot of players. I counted 20 of the 22 positions that either have a returning starter or returning lettermen. So there's only two positions I saw on the board, saw on tape where someone had not played at all in last year's season. So very, very experienced team coming in, very talented team coming with Drew Tate, Abdul Hodge, Chad Greenway. You're talking about three of the best players in all of America. They have talent everywhere but those three have already established themselves as three of the best that can line up on the field on game day.


A great challenge for us, Iowa is the defending Big 10 champion coming in here and a prohibitive favorite to win this game and rightfully so based on last season and what happened Saturday.


I see about 70 percent of both of these teams are underclassmen. So you know there some really, really outstanding seniors what will play for both teams. A big chunk of both of these teams are underclassmen which I think is good for the future, not only Saturday, good for this season, good for the future. A lot of these guys are going to be around on both teams for a long time.


On what was wrong with DeAndre Jackson's coverage on Saturday against Illinois State


Just all technique; He has the athleticism, the foot speed the quickness, the experience to be a real good cover corner absolutely. He expects a lot more of himself, I do, Chris Ash does, John Skladany. You don't have to be a seasoned veteran to see what happened, that he got beat.


But he has tremendous pride I have great confidence in DeAndre Jackson, he'll come back and play better this week.


On whether he would have liked to play a close game or a rout like Iowa's game…


We did get a win, there's no question about it. We did have to go four quarters to win the football game. I sure would have liked to look a lot better in the first half especially with our offense than we did on Saturday. But I do know more about my team I think right now. I have a better feel I think. There wasn't anything easy about it Illinois State came to play. We made just enough mistakes especially in that first half and a little with our defensive coverage in the second half to let them just keep hanging around so we did get a gut check.


There wasn't much of a gut check in Iowa City, they just completely demolished them. They looked like they deserved to be better than 10th or 11th in the country watching that tape. They looked like a legitimate top five team. But all I can do is make sure my football team is ready. We learn from Saturday's mistakes and know that we are capable of playing a lot than we did Saturday and we have to this week.


On whether he expects Iowa's Allen to play…


I have no idea; you'll have to ask Kirk that. I know regardless of circumstances everybody is ready for Iowa State. They're not expected to play, they play. They're injured, they're healthy. They miss the last three games, they're ready for us. On the field, off the field. Whatever the issues are everybody seems to get ready for us. Check it, since I've been here whoever is not supposed to play always plays [against us].


On how the ISU O-line stacks up with the Iowa D-line...


It's going to be a tremendous challenge, Kirk obviously lost his four starters up front but you can tell watching the game tape they're not rebuilding, they're reloading. It's an outstanding defensive front. When you line up with the best pair of linebackers in college football behind your defensive line that enhances your chances of being pretty good. All of them are tough, all of them are strong, and they can run. They play lots of guys and I'm not in their meetings but I assume that's what they're going to do every week.


On Iowa's rushing game…


There's no doubt they've got all those backs healthy. They're playing 3-4 running backs. They all look good, the offensive line is very physical.


On whether Iowa State's mistakes are easily fixable…


I don't know about easily but they're fixable, they're correctable. It's not going to happen just because you want it to and because we pointed it out in tape. There's a lot of things involved when you're' trying to turn a mistake around. You know it's mental, it's physical, it's taking pride in a job well done. It's taking responsibility for your mistakes and being a lot better than we were.


On whether or not he says anything to his players to turn up the intensity…


No, you be yourself and that's all I've ever tried to be. Everybody does it their own way. ABC wanted to come in the locker room I'm not going to let them do that. ABC wanted to put a mic on me an hour before the game and I'm not going to let them do that. I think some coaches are more concerned about the camera than they are the kids and getting them ready to play. I just don't do that.


On what a win would say about this teams' potential…


That's a great point and we're trying to each week keep improving. But every time we go out and play and it happened last week….but to not only go win a football game but defining how you want to be remembered. What kind of team do you want to be? How do you want people looking back at you?


I had my ear phones on, I didn't hear a thing but I looked up and saw that Big 12 Championship flag and some of my guys out there holding it. How could you not get a little emotional seeing that Saturday knowing the thing has been missing for so long at a school like this. Those guys…they won't be remembered as you guys were 7-5, no, they'll be remembered - they were bowl champs and they were Big 12 North Division Champs the rest of their lives.


You can't carry the weight of you have to win this game to be remembered as good guys, high character guys, winners, because the seasons going to go on for both of us. But it sure does help your chances for success and opportunities and possibilities at the end of the season winning a game like this.


On the state of the rivalry…


I think it's probably true when you stop and think of the past few years. Both schools are having success and Kirk's taken it to a tremendous level with three top 10 finishes and coming in here ranked in the top 10 and we've won six of our last seven and both schools are bowl champions.


On how hard it is to win at Iowa


He's done a great job, no doubt about it. Although there's been some struggles right when he took the program over, there's a nucleus and a core of success over the years and that sure helps because there's an identity a tradition.


On how he's seen the rivalry evolve…


It's competitive now. I remember the first couple of years it was an okay game...I remember Tim Dwight catching a  60 some yard touchdown pass and I didn't know if there was enough room on the score board for all the points they were going to put up against us. And then we got things turned around and had some success for five years and Kirk's come back and won the last two.


But last year clearly with us having a real young football team we had our chances and it was a four quarter football game and with the exception of some missed field goals. We had an opportunity to win a game that nobody thought we had any chance to win. So with that thought in mind it doesn't guarantee anything, but I think my kids and staff will go into this game believing we can win.


On whether it's hard to beat a friend…


All that stuff is put aside when the game is played. Before the game, after the game nobody will ever take away our experiences and respect we have for one another but during that game there isn't any coach or team or program that I would enjoy a victory over more because I know the national prominence they brought to Iowa and the stature and the reputation and the success they've had. Nothing changes before or after the game, it's during that thing when all that stuff goes out the window for those 3½ hours.


On Tony Yelk…


Yeah, here he is in his 16th season at Iowa State and we're glad to have him back. I didn't know that he was going to have to do what he did on Saturday. We didn't know if Culbertson was going to be ready or not. We made a decision in pre-game warm-up before we went out on the field. Bret just felt like he wasn't able to go so we went out in the pre-game warm-up and decided to go with Edgar because Tony hadn't been kicking many PATs/field goals. He'd been kicking some, punting a lot. Kickoffs some but we've just been limiting him.


On why Todd Blythe chose Iowa State over Iowa


I think we were early and we were often within the rules of the NCAA. There's no question we had the first offer with Todd. For some kids that has lots and lots of meaning and with some kids a little bit, some kids probably no meaning. With Todd it meant a lot because we made the first decision to invest in him and commit to him for the future.


On which moments in the series stand-out…


There's none more memorable than the five victories I had since I've been here as a head coach. But all of them when you win, it's just this feeling of exhilaration and I've been on both sides of that, both schools and then the loss is extremely gut-wrenching but I've never had a loss that felt okay no matter what team you lost too. You have to be able to come back, we all have long seasons ahead.


On whether or not Hicks got enough yards on Saturday…


No, definitely not. We don't want him paying 82-to-83 snaps every Saturday but there was two things. He needed more game time and some playing time because he missed so much practice and scrimmage time through camp No. 1 and No. 2 we were trying to win a football game and he gives us our best chance to do that.


It was a combination of missed blocks, communication, just misreading something because of the missed practice time we were below average most of the night in our rush game and were going to do everything to better this week.



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