Give us your overall thoughts on the Cyclones domination of Kansas State.
-I thought Saturday was an amazing performance by the Cyclone football team against Kansas State. The only negative I saw was the offense's inability to establish something the second quarter. It is great for the Cyclones to see continual improvement on both sides of the ball. By the looks of the last three weeks, I would say it would be hard to argue the point that the Cyclones are one of the hottest teams in all of college football.
After being involved in some Kansas State games that were lopsided in the other direction, what does it mean to Mac, current players and past players like yourself to not just beat Kansas State but to boot stomp them the way we did?
-I think it definitely means a lot to Coach Mac and the Cyclone football program. Reflecting back to my playing days, we always seemed to find a way to get dominated by Kansas State. It did not matter how good of a team we had, we physically got dominated. Some people would go as far as saying it was a psychological thing when the Cyclones played them. Finally, last year the Cyclone defense played lights out to help win the game in Manhattan. This year was just a physical mismatch. I can't imagine the feeling that Coach Mac, his staff, and his players have for their success against K-State the past couple of years.
Our defense once again put on a phenomenal performance holding Kansas State to only 12 yards rushing. Who stuck out to you the most on Saturday and could this be the best defense in Iowa State's history?
-One guy that really sticks out to me is Nik Moser. You never hear a lot of Nik's name whether people are talking about his success on the football field or just Nik as a man. I have been privileged to know Nik over the years as a friend, teammate, and roommate. If you take a close look at all the games played up to this point in the season, Nik Moser is always making plays when we need them the most. Nik is always making good breaks on the ball in the secondary to put him in position to deflect a pass to a receiver on a big down. Nik also has a nose for the football In that he goes up and gets interceptions that provide a huge momentum swing for Iowa State. I am just really pleased with Nik's play and his consistency from week to week.
-I am also impressed with the interior defensive lineman in Nick Leaders and Brent Curvey. They truly are the unsung heroes on this year's squad. I think back to Nick Leaders' true freshman year. He was green right out of high school and does nothing but come in and gets MVP against Nebraska. You may say that is because Leaders is from Nebraska. Leaders is always consistent making big plays that will always go unnoticed. In recent weeks, Leaders and Curvey have been big ol' bruisers inside not letting anyone run through the holes. If the opponents try to run through the holes, Leaders and Curvey make sure they pay for it. Those two men are a big part for Iowa State's defense being so stingy against the run.
The offense is finally producing the kind of results we all thought they were capable of. What do you think is the biggest reason for the offensive turnaround?
-I think Barney Cotton, as well as the other offensive coaches, have done a great job in molding this unit into what they can and should be. I don't really think one can pinpoint any reason for the turnaround. I think it was just a matter of time with guys getting comfortable with the guys playing around them, and gelling together as an offensive unit. Continued success from week to week only boosts the confidence of a young offensive squad, which will almost return the whole unit. That is really exciting for the Cyclone Football Family. I also think guys have stepped up on this unit. Bret Meyer has been consistent game to game and only gets better. You never see Bret Meyer take a step back. The offensive line continues to improve as the season moves along. Stevie Hicks is back healthy and is one of the toughest and smartest players at his position in all of college football, Austin Flynn makes big time plays on offense, Todd Blythe gets his confidence, and the list goes on and on. So I really don't think you can put a finger on any single game or any single individual. That is why football is the greatest team sport played.
From a coaching standpoint, what impresses you the most about how we have turned the season around and are the coaches doing anything different now compared to the first half of the season?
-From a coaching standpoint, I don't see the coaches doing anything different than they have all year. I coach varsity offensive line at Indianola and I try to take the same approach as the coaches I had at Iowa State. They are hard on you, they push you, they get after you, and they kick you in the butt when you need it. This is a sign of a coach trying to get the most possible out of you as an athlete, and as a football player. There is no greater feeling than seeing your guys go out and execute all the little things you coach. Sometimes it doesn't happen as soon as you would like it to. With determination, hard work, and the will to win and believe, success follows. From first hand experience, Coach Mac and his staff works relentless hours as a football staff putting their players in position to experience success.
Iowa State has not defeated Colorado in Ames since 1983. Do stats like that provide any extra motivation for players or do they completely ignore stuff like that?
-I honestly did not know that stat about Iowa State versus Colorado until I heard it on a local sports station and now from the newspaper. As a former player, I never really paid attention to all the stats, all the hoopla, and all the series records. You just go out and do what you're coached and try to win football games. I know for a fact that players on the team will agree with me that they did not know about the stats until the media brought them up. As a player, you stay so focused with all the meetings and all the practices that you don't even pay attention to all the other stuff. It is like you have tunnel vision each week with one goal in mind…win on Saturday.
Is there any one thing in particular you think the Cyclones need to do to beat Colorado on Saturday?
-For the Cyclones to win on Saturday, they need to keep playing consistent football. The defense has a tremendous challenge in keeping Joel Klatt in check all night at Jack Trice Stadium Saturday. The offense needs to continue to be productive and consistent like they have been in recent weeks. I think it will be a heck of a challenge for both squads, making this game my game of the week.
Until Next Time,
Luke Vander Sanden
Former Cyclone Center