I got a chance to sit down and talk to Coach Dan McCarney for a few minutes on Tuesday morning. McCarney talked about everything from his senior's leaving to how bowl practices are developing young players. Check out what Coach Mac had to say here in an exclusive Cyclone Nation interview with Dan McCarney.
CN: Could you talk a little bit about the progress of some of the guys red shirting this season. What are you expecting to see from some of those guys next season?
Coach Mac: "Tyrone McKenzie has done a great
job. We knew that he would have to sit going from one division one school to
another. With Tim Dobbins and Jamarr Buchanan graduating we've got two big holes
there at the linebacker position. Tyron has done an excellent job. There's no
doubt that he's going to be in the mix. Matt Robertson is coming back but I'll
be really surprised if Tyrone isn't in the starting lineup against
CN: Nick Leaders is a one and a million type of a player. How hard is it to replace a guy like that next season?
Coach Mac: "Somebody will be in the lineup
but can you replace Nick Leaders? The consistency, the durability, the
toughness, always being there. How many times can you go through a career and
see a guy never miss a snap of his career at that position? Rarely. It's not
like we've had two guys rotating in there. He steps on the field and doesn't
want to come off. What an amazing career he's had. We're really hoping that he
can have one last great game for
CN: Is there anybody on the roster right now that you've been evaluating that could realistically step in and play if he had to? Is there a player that you would have a lot of confidence in? Does anybody stick out in your mind right now that could fill that position next season?
Coach Mac: "The depth at that position is the same. It hasn't changed all season long. McGinty and Braksma are the backups there. Dale is the guy that we're grooming for the future. That was a real priority in recruiting. I'll be surprised if we don't sign five defensive linemen. I'm sure that we will. That's a real priority for us. Leaders has just been there. He's been consistent and in many games been very dominant. It's going to be hard to replace him but that's what you have to do. Guys are going to go on with their careers. We have to find somebody to step up and play winning football."
CN: Talk a little bit about the punting situation next season.
Coach Mac: "It's wide open. We don't have a scholarship punter on campus. I really like Mike Brandtner from the Quad Cities. He's a walk-on that's shown a lot of potential. We probably won't sign a scholarship punter. We'll definitely bring in a couple more walk-ons with great potential for chances to win scholarships in the future. It's wide open with Blank graduating as you know."
CN: What about the safety positions?
Coach Mac: "There's a good mix there. We've got a couple of DB's playing corner right now that we red shirted. I think we might move a lot of those guys to safety. Whether it's Houston Jones, James Smith, John Banks, Caleb Berg, there's a good group of kids there that we're going to keep evaluating and looking at. Through workouts and spring practice and those kinds of things. Again as you know it's one of the real voids on this team after the bowl game because both of those guys played an awful lot of football."
CN: How excited are you about the guys coming back on offense next season?
Coach Mac: "Oh boy! We have 10 of 11 starters coming back. That's a tremendous nucleus. We've got to continue to develop depth and get more playmakers. We've really got to improve the speed of our offense so we can get some more big plays."