The inexperienced Cyclone defense dominated in a scrimmage on Saturday morning in Jack Trice Stadium as John Skladany's players forced five turnovers against an undermanned Cyclone offense.
"There were just a lot of big
plays made by our defense. The offense moved the ball at times and made some
plays but when you turn it over five times offensively, one was a fumbled snap
but the other four were forced. We're going to build on it," said
McCarney also talked about the relentlessness of his defense this spring.
"It's what Coach Skladany and I have been telling our defense. We're not making any excuses. We were the best in the Big 12 at takeaways last year. I think we set a school record for takeaways so let's build on it. Why does it have to change because there are a lot of new guys in the lineup? I was really proud of that."
The defense played great on Saturday but the offense assisted them with their inconsistent play.
"Offensively there was zero consistency. Some really good things at times today and obviously there were some good throws by Bret but there's a penalty and a turnover, a missed block," said McCarney.
One key to the offensive inconsistency and a reason for Cyclone fans not to panic is the fact that numerous starters were out of the lineup on Saturday.
"We had some guys out of the lineup obviously. Todd Blythe is not serious; he'll be back on Monday. Seth Zehr broke his hand; he's out for the rest of the spring. Scott Stephenson isn't in there. We've got some guys missing but the defense has some guys missing too. We have seven starters that are missing from the bowl game. They came out ready to play."
Unlike the defense, McCarney hasn't seen a vast improvement on the offensive side of the ball this spring.
"I'm seeing the personality of our defense grow and a lot of improvement there. I didn't see a lot of improvement from our offense today. That's the most disappointing thing," said McCarney.
Special Teams Struggles
The kicking game was less than perfect on Saturday as well as several fields goals were either missed or blocked.
"It was very inconsistent. We're trying to get in a lot of situations. We got seven or eight punts in today. We didn't do any kickoff or kickoff return; we're getting in a lot of drill work right now in practice. We're getting some good punt work and PAT field goals. It was just too inconsistent but it's on tape. We'll evaluate. We can still evaluate protection with our punt team," said McCarney.
Final Thoughts on the Scrimmage
"We'll go in and evaluate. Usually when you think something's really good, it's not quite as good as you think it is. When you look at our offense, we'll go look at the tape and it probably wasn't as bad as we thought. Like always, this is the greatest team game in the world. One guy can make 10 other guys look bad. Protection on the field goal, the snap and hold can be perfect, but if the kicker shanks it the whole unit looks bad because one guy didn't do his job. One guy can really affect the outcome of a play. That's why it's a great team game," said McCarney.
The Last Week of Spring Ball
In a week that Coach McCarney labels as the most important week of spring practice, the coach is looking forward to working in some 3rd down situations for his offense.
"We've got work to do. Like I told the team, this is the most important week of spring ball coming up this next week. We've got a lot of work to do," said McCarney.
Though a lot of players were out with injuries on Saturday, McCarney is confident that will change on Monday.
"Everybody is sore, it's spring but I'm concerned because we have more guys watching then I'd like to have today. I think we've got a chance to get three or four of them back on Monday."