Mac at Media Day: Part One

Part one of Mac's entire 30 minute presser at Iowa State's media day today. Mac discussed the incoming class, questions on defense and the explosiveness and health of his running backs. Check back for parts two and three in the coming days.

Opening Statement:


Thanks everybody for coming, we've got a beautiful day for media day.  We got a practice in this morning, went indoors obviously because of the rain. We still got a lot done. 26 days until Toledo and we've got a lot of work to do. We have two weeks left of camp before we break for classes. I think so far we've gotten a lot done, we've had real good retention with the upper-classmen and veterans. The newcomers are obviously real coachable kids. I like this group overall. I wrote down a few guys a couple minutes ago that have caught my eye. This doesn't mean that they are definitely going to play and that they definitely will not be red-shirting. We don't know that, we haven't had full pads on yet. Some guys that have caught my eye and are off to a good start: Lee Tibbs on the offensive line, he will be pushing for a #1 spot on the offensive line, I don't think there is any doubt about that. Austen Arnaud, quarterback, is a real special kid, you can see why he was the Gatorade Player of the Year in state of Iowa. Alexander Robinson, Josh Johnson, both running backs. Whether they are good enough to beat out the three veterans in front of them, I have no idea, but those kids are really off to a good start. Matt Purivs, our deep snapper, really doing a good job. He clearly is the best snapper we have on campus. Now can he do it with the speed and accuracy when there is heat coming on, under the lights on gameday, we haven't seen that yet. But he really has some talent.


Defensively a number of kids are really off to a good start. Devin McDowell, Drenard Williams, Rashawn Parker, Zac Sandvig, Fred Garrin, Nate Frere. Frere came in at 295 pounds and he is still in pretty good shape. He's a guy that wasn't on anybody's list, no stars behind his name, but you watch his career, he is going to have a really good career here at Iowa State. Kris Means, Bailey Johnson just to mention a few of them.


Injured guys that are really doing a good job, great to have them back on the field, that were not with us in the spring, Scott Stephenson, Milan Moses, Jon Davis, John Machado, Jason Scales, Ryan Baum, and Eric Schultz are all back. Jordon Goos will not be with us for a while, he has the same injury Jason Scales had. He won't be back until later this season.


Leadership is strong, I like this team so far, I like the way they are working. We are going to elect captains on August 18th,  but there is a lot of potential leaders on this team that could end up being captains on this team and I like that part of it. We've got the decal in that we're going to honor Cris Love and it turned out real nice. We're going to honor his memory and honor his legacy here at Iowa State.


On Having Four Iowans at Quarterback:          


Yes, the intangibles are so important at that position as you know, and whether they all play or don't play they are all special guys. I know this much, if you watch Austen Arnaud out there, you will see that he is every bit as far along as Bret Meyer was as an incoming freshman. Now, does that mean that we are going to redshirt him like we did Bret, or will he play, or challenge Kyle Van Winkle for the number two spot, I don't know yet because it is way too soon. But (Arnaud) is 219 pounds and strong, athletic, and smart, and we are really, really impressed with him. But we knew all that when we started recruiting him a long time ago. What else do we need to say about Bret Meyer? He has had two great years in front of him and has two special years behind him and I think he is better right now than at any time in his career at Iowa State. Nate Mechaelsen is a real unselfish quality young man. He isn't going to beat out Bret Meyer and probably not Kyle Van Winkle or Austen Arnaud, but he is very valuable to this team and we are very proud of him. I think it is real meaningful to have kids that play that position that have character, integrity, and leadership, the ability to handle success and adversity and here they are all from the state of Iowa. I think that really says something about the quality of the football played here in this state.


On the questions or concerns about this year's defense:


Well, there are a lot of them. One is who are going to be the playmakers? You take the heart of our defense away from last year's team -- are all in NFL camps, three of the four at least. Nick Leaders was a four-year starter, and Tim Dobbins, was a two-year starter and is now with the San Diego Chargers. Both safeties were around forever and (Steve) Paris is now in an NFL camp. Every defense is built from the inside out and three of those four are in NFL camps and all four are gone so there are lots of concerns when you have so many new guys. But the work ethic and attitude is really good, and we have three starters that have played football against every team on our schedule in the past and we have six or seven guys that have played some collegiate football and then clearly some newcomers are going to be in the mix in our depth in the next couple of weeks as things move along. We are not as good now as we were at the end of last year and I think that is pretty obvious, but I'm not going to sell these kids short because we made a lot of improvement last spring and we are going to have to do that during camp between now and when we play Toledo. Toledo is going to come in with a confident and quality football team. They are defending bowl champions and we are going to have to play our best. You have to have a system that is tested through time and been successful and it is. Also, you need a defensive coordinator that knows what he is doing, and I do in John Skladany. Number three, you better have kids that really play with energy and enthusiasm, and passion and heart, and relentless effort and I think we are getting that so far from our kids in practice.


On Adjustments to the spread of the spread offense:


We throw it all at them (the defense). We start the first day with all kinds of formations, fortunately we do a lot of that offensively. Every day when we go out to practice those defensive guys are going up against Blythe, Meyer, Stephenson, Brant, Barkema, Hicks and some really proven quality Big 12 football players. And if they can do some things consistently against those guys, it gives you more confidence going into the season.


On so few Defensive Guys Returning?


Here at Iowa State, I don't think I've had that many kids gone all in one year. But there is a real pride here in this program about continuing the tradition that we've built and we did some phenomenal things defensively last year. I talk to my coaches about it all the time, two of the most important reflections of coaching are turnover-margin and penalties. The kids have to do it, but they have to be coached and taught real well every day. We finished seventh in the country in turnover-margin last year, number one in the Big 12, we were the least penalized team in the Big 12. It's a reflection of my guys and my teachers, and my coaches. It doesn't just happen because it's a new season and that's what we did last year. We all want to have good strong old memories, but also new hopes for the future. My memories were we did a good job of coaching in those two areas and we better continue to do that if we want to have a good year this year with this great schedule we are playing.    


On working with Culbertson:


I don't think he's missed lots of big kicks, but he's definitely missed some kicks at the end of games. He's 20 out of 26 on field goals and 50 out of 50 on PAT's. So he's 70 out of 76, which is excellent, 92 percent overall. He was 19 out of 20 in practice on field goals yesterday. He's off to a real good start. Throughout camp, especially this year with a new snapper and a new punter, trying to put Bret in situations to win games, we're going to pull out our punt team or our field goat team out at any time and everywhere in practice so they better be ready. We're going to do that throughout practice, instead of the kids knowing which period it will be, we're going to bring those kids out at any time. Bret is off to a great start. He had a good summer at the Jamie Kohl kicking camp, working with NFL kickers. I understand he had a real good summer and is off to a great start.


On Hicks and the Running Backs:


Stevie is doing great. If he stays healthy, he will have a tremendous senior year. That's they key and it's a position where it is never easy to stay healthy and be durable because they take so many hits, but he has just looked outstanding and you can ask any of our defensive coaches or players what they think. He's fast, quick, he's off to a great start and we all know he is a real quality capable player when he's healthy and hopefully he'll come back with a  great senior year. Behind him is Jason Scales, so great to see him out there running full speed. Jason Harris is #3 and then we've got some freshmen running backs we're going to throw into the fire real soon, real fast. We already have in half-pack, we're going to when pads come on and we're going to take a look and see if they can be any better than our veterans. But clearly Stevie Hicks is our starter.


On Expectations for Scales:


We want him to be the kind of player we thought he would be when we recruited him. When you stop and think about it, all the football he has missed and not only games, but practices which are your chance to improve, your chance to be coached, he's been away from football a lot more that he's been with football. So he's got a long ways to go. But he really looks good. He looks quick, he looks athletic, he looks in shape. He hasn't shown any signs of problems with that knee. Hopefully, he can stay healthy like Stevie Hicks. He will make a real difference on our football team.

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