Williams: How dumb are recruiting rankings?
McCarney: I don't pay attention to them. I
really don't. I never have and I never will. If I worried about how people rated
my recruiting classes and what they thought of my kids, if I worried about that
everyday I would have been in the nut house years ago. I've made so many
recruiting evaluations look silly over the years. Dating all the way back to the
players that we used to recruit at Iowa, the players we brought in at Wisconsin
and now going into 12th year at Iowa State, I just don't pay any
attention to them. When you stop at look at some of the best players that have
ever played at
Williams: You guys were really hunting for another JUCO defensive lineman and didn't get one. Where exactly were you guys looking at?
McCarney: It wasn't life or death that we find another JUCO guy, I would always prefer to have a four year player. If we have a young man who has the talent, the athleticism and the character for a two year player then we're crazy to bring him in. If there's a real void that you can't put your paycheck on give yourself a shot to win, then you better bring somebody in immediately. We didn't reluctantly take those high school defensive linemen, we were excited as hell and we worked like crazy to get them. We feel really good about the high school kids that we signed.
Williams: Will Reggie Stephens compete with the JUCO offensive linemen for playing time? Is he ready?
McCarney: Oh he better be ready. We think he's got a lot of potential. He definitely needed a red-shirt. This spring and summer are going to be huge for him. He needs to harden up and he needs to toughen up. He's got athleticism and he's got size. He's really smart; he was almost a Dean's List student this semester. He's got all kinds of potential, but we need to turn the potential into performance. That's what this winter and this spring is about. I'll be really disappointed if he's not in the two-deep come August 31. He could be pushing for one of those number one spots.
Williams: What about Jason Scales? Do you anticipate him being in the mix this fall?
McCarney: He better be in the mix this spring. We need to upgrade our running backs. Last year we definitely weren't where we wanted to be. We know that injuries had a lot to do with that but we've got to get back on track with our running game where our running backs are the strength of our team. They definitely were not that last year.
Williams: What was the final factor that led you guys to bring back Collins Eboh?
McCarney: I just think that he had to convince all of us that he was going to come back and be a responsible student athlete. He came into a good program and played as a true freshman. We knew that he had the athleticism and the talent to play. He had a 25 ACT in high school. Do you think he should have any trouble in college?
None, he shouldn't have any
problems. This is a smart and articulate young man. You have to have some
dedication to your studies; otherwise you can flunk out of
Williams: Last year you guys lost a lot of heartbreakers. Is anything being done specifically to keep that from happening this year?
McCarney: We won some really close games too. It wasn't like every time we got into a close game we lost it. We won some really important close games. As far as the evaluation process and going back and looking at everything like we are right now as coaches, we did all kinds of good things on the football field last year. If you go through a season and lead the conference with the least amount of penalties and you are the best turnover margin team in the conference and one of the country, that's where coaching starts. Don't beat yourself. Yet, we all know that we had more turnovers in the red-zone than anyone else in the Big 12. In the big picture we were the best in the conference, but then we were the worst going in from the 10 or going in from the five. The problems that we had, we need to get those things fixed. That's what we're really zeroing in on right now. We know we're going to be in more close games. Our program has developed now that every Saturday our fans know that we have a legitimate shot to win games. We're going to be in close games. Was it a play? Was it a player? Was it a call? Was it an adjustment? Was it a kick? We're working on all of those things so that we can win close games. As you know, there were at least two or three of those games that shouldn't have even gotten to overtime. We didn't do what we were capable of doing and we didn't make a play when we needed to make a play. We didn't make a play, or we didn't make a kick or we didn't make a call that we needed to win those games. We aren't sitting around with our feet up on our desk, we're developing our football team and as a staff we're going through every play of every game of last season to emphasize the positives and dig into the mistakes that we made.