Mac at Media Day: Part Two

Nobody packs more information in a timespan than Dan McCarney. In Part two of his media day presser, Mac discusses questions on defense, the back-up plan behind Bret Meyer, and just how good Todd Blythe is.

On Schedule:


You've got two choices: you believe that you can be successful or you believe that you can't. People around the country, it's not that they don't respect Iowa State, I think that we are beyond that. I sense more of that when I get to the national stage, you go to the Big 12 media days, one of the most highly attended media conference in the whole country, and I feel it, I know it, I sense it, I understand it when I am around the national media, there is great credibility and respect for this program. And my players did too when we went down there. So this isn't a matter of..Does Iowa State have respect? No, we do. We're not where we want to be yet. You have a choice: Do you believe you can have success against the schedule or do you believe you can't? It's not that people don't think we have a good program and can't be successful, they look at it and see nine bowl teams, two teams in the top five of the country, a team in Northern Iowa that played in the championship in 1-AA and most of their team is back. I think a lot of people say they just can't beat that schedule. They've got a good program, good kids, they know what they are doing, they play hard, they coach hard, but they can't beat that schedule. And we have to put our foot in the sand and say we can be we will be. It's a day-to-day process, it's a long season, no open weeks. So, I have to keep that in mind as a head coach with my coaches and players both mentally and physically. This is a long, long challenging brutal schedule ahead. But there is nobody that can convince me that we can't be successful.


On Oklahoma game getting any easier:


No, I don't think so. The quarterback you are referring to did a heck of a job once he did get the starting nod last year. I wouldn't wish that on any team, or any coach, or any player. I'm sorry that happened. I don't like seeing it for a real good friend of mine in Bob Stoops. It sounds like Bobby didn't have much choice. So, they'll take out a future first-rounder and replace him with a future second-rounder. Not a lot of sympathy going down there.   


On Defensive End:


Taylor is #1 right now and Moorehead is #1 on the other side. Beyond that I couldn't tell you. We're going to look at all of those newcomers, which is a number of them, we're going to continue to evaluate those other guys. But Taylor and Moorehead were #1 all spring. Taylor is 255 pounds and John Skladany and Mike Nelson will tell you he is playing as well as he ever has. Really impressed with Kurtis so far. Shawn is a great success story here at Iowa State. But we need four of five guys that can play at that position. And we have to find four or five of them on the inside, because Leaders isn't here anymore. Somebody has to step up and right now its Braaksma at #1, Berg #2, we're working Dale, we're working all those newcomers. It's a good looking bunch of physical guys, but it's tough to build confidence when you line up against Stephenson there in practice. He can knock your confidence right out of ya every snap. Yet, we are still trying to evaluate these young guys to see who can play at this level, this year.


On Collins Eboh:


No, he isn't here. He and Ahtyba Rubin, both those guys are trying to finish their academic work and neither one of them will be here for camp. If either one of them join us, it won't be until classes start. Those are the last two kids we are waiting on.


On Double-Teams towards Curvey:


There isn't a lot of double teams anymore in college football because of so many looks and it is so diversified. Offenses diversified many years ago and defenses had to or get humiliated. Defensive lineman are in coverage now. D-backs are in blitzes. Outside backers are blitzing. There are so many different looks, so it's really hard to say, "There's #52, let's double and hammer him with two guys all day long." He's a force, he's a disruptor, he's a guy that can play dominant football every snap and every week, no matter who you are playing. He's one of the best players I've been around and I coached that position for 16 years and I had some of the best in college football when I was coaching defensive line. Brent is one of those guys. He's fast, athletic, almost 300 pounds, he's smart, relentless, he's got all of those things you are looking for other than a little more height, but it sure hasn't slowed him down. He has had a great career so far, and I see him having a great senior year.


On Linebackers:


That's one of the big question marks right now is to find out can those linebackers be solid, be OK, can they be special? Where's the depth? John Skladany and Shawn Simms have their hands full right now. But all of those guys are athletic. Bowen, McKenzie, Carper are all real good, athletic kids. When you recruit you look at height, size, toughness, range, coachability, character and they've got all those things. But what they lack right now is just a lot of experience. Carper started a few games and played in all of them, McKenzie redshirted after playing a little defense at Michigan State, and Bowen of course played quite a bit last year. So, they aren't completely green. But how those three play together, how those four defensive lineman play together, how those four defensive backs in the back-end play together is so important. Put them all together and see what we got by August 31st.


On the D-Backs:


DeAndre is the class of the bunch. He is practicing and playing like an All-Big 12 cornerback, which he did last year. Chris Singleton has got the edge at the other corner. The safety spots are wide open. James Smith has missed a couple of practices with a hamstring, it's not serious, but I'd rather have him miss a day or two than two weeks. No one has the inside spots locked up, real good competition. We've already begun to look at Steve Johnson inside. When we recruited him, we thought he was more of a safety than a corner. Part of that is the quick improvement by McDowell and Williams, those two corners have a chance to impact our defense and our secondary as true freshmen.    


On talking with players about schedule:     


 Yeah we do. We laid it out in the first team meeting I had, we showed it to them. We let them know here's where it is, here's what the Big 12 post-season possibilities are, here's the date of the championship game in Arrowhead Stadium which we've been a play away from the last two years. Once we go through that and lay it all out, now let's zero in on each other and ourselves and improving day to day and getting ready for our opener with Toledo. In the first meeting I spelled all of that out what's available and what's possible and after that we get back to zeroing in on what we've got to do today.


On Side-stepping the difficulty of the schedule:


No, we talk about them with it, completely honest about it. The quality of the opponents, whether they are here or there. I just sense from my kids that they know they can't some out and practice average and expect to get ready for this kind of schedule. We can't coach average, we can't come out and slow start a practice because we're getting a little sore or a little tired. We've got to bring our A game to practice every day as coaches and players, as hard as that is as two a days go on. We've got to do it to get ready for a season like this, a schedule like this.


On not putting too much pressure on the offense:

That's one of the keys at the start of the season. I won't give my defense an excuse for failure because we don't have all those starters back and it's important our coaches do the same thing. We don't expect a big drop off. Now will they be as good right away? Probably not. But we're sure not going into it saying, "You guys just hang out, slow them down a little bit and maybe grab a turnover now and then and just watch Meyer and Blythe score points." We're not going to do that. Those kids on defense have a lot of pride.

On Breaking through the Big 12 North:

We've got to continue to improve and upgrade as coaches and players. We've got to be a real, real consistent program which means we put ourselves in a position to win as many games as we can. Hopefully each Saturday, when the fourth quarter comes around, Iowa State is there. Then when it comes time in the fourth quarter or at the end of a game or in an overtime, that we play with the confidence and coach with the confidence that we need to win. We've won a lot of close games in recent years but it's more documented the close games that we've lost. We'd sure like to be able to pull some of those out. We'll go into games as underdogs this year, but those teams all have to play Iowa State, too. We're still one of only five teams in our league to go to five bowl games in six years.

On Overtime Losses:

It's a combination and a culmination of things. We've got to find a way to win those games because we know we could be in one the first game this year. Whether they're tying us to get into overtime or we're tying them or if it happens the second week or the third or the fourth, we have to handle it better than we have the last couple of years.

On Todd Blythe:

I just expect him to be the best. I don't think there should be a better receiver in college football. The good thing is, if people are just going to zero in on #1, good luck, because we've got some other cats that will come after you at wide receiver now. Our tight ends are good receivers as you know, our top two backs can really catch the football, too. We've got a real good stable of receivers so if you're just going to worry about # 1, whether Jon Davis is back or not, we've got some real capable receivers. But Todd is just a guy that's in phenomenal shape, he's a machine athletically, conditioning-wise. You always talk that your receivers, your DBs, your running backs should be able to run all day without getting tired. He's an example of that. He may act like he's getting a little tired but he's in phenomenal shape. He's probably one of the best players I've ever been around in college football, regardless of position. He's one of the best players I've been around.

On Back up Plan if something happens to Bret Meyer:

We'd have to decide if we reduce our package, reduce our offense because Kyle Van Winkle or Austen Arnaud is the quarterback. Hopefully not, but we've got to be honest about it, too. If Austen is out there as a true freshman and he's got to win it for us, well we're probably not going to have the complete package we'd have if Bret's in there because of all his experience. You have to always be ready and get the next guy ready because those things happen. Everybody is trying to get after your quarterback and if it happens you're next guy has to be able to step in and do the job and still lead that football team.

On Kyle Van Winkle being the next guy:

Right now he is. We've got a lot of evaluation left, scrimmages, practices, meetings and evaluations. These next two weeks are so important.

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