Parker and Frere Get the Nod
"They are the best we've got. Frankly, when you lose as many as we did last year, and then you take (Kurtis) Taylor and (James) Smith out of the mix, it obviously gives those guys opportunities," McCarney said. "Rarely do you start two freshmen on the defensive line; I did it three years ago with Berryman and Curvey. These guys are the best; they've proven it day in and day out," McCarney told reporters on Monday.
As McCarney alluded to, junior DE Kurtis Taylor went down a few weeks ago with a knee injury which opened up the starting spot for Parker to take.
"Obviously it elevated Rashawn's chances to start, but I don't know that he wouldn't have started if Kurtis would have stayed healthy, I don't know that. He was pushing like crazy for that number one," McCarney said.
McCarney also mentioned that fans could see up to eight Cyclones rotating on the defensive line Thursday evening.
"There is no doubt in my mind that we will play eight defensive linemen in this game, unlike last year when we were lucky to play six," McCarney said.
Clearly, McCarney is expecting the
youngsters to be less than perfect against
"We know they're going to make mistakes, but I'm going to make mistakes. I don't like to, I don't plan on it but it's going to happen. How you react and how you respond to that mistake is what it's all about," McCarney said.
The youth is there on this defense who is forced to replace eight starters from last year and McCarney is being realistic about it.
"Defensively this is probably the youngest team I've had since I've been here. We won't be as good on Thursday night as we were at the end of the year last season, let's be realistic. I would really expect this defense to get better and better because of that youth in every game that we play," McCarney said.
Quote of the Day
Do you think
"This stuff about having to outscore everybody is some happy horsecrap. I don't buy it, I don't believe it." – Dan McCarney on Monday morning
Along with Parker and Taylor, there are up to five other newcomers who could see the field on Thursday.
"You can see in the lineup that we have three of them (newcomers) starting. Rashawn Parker and Nate Frere on the defensive line and Matt Purvis is our deep snapper. Then Austen Arnaud, Fred Garrin, Josh Johnson, Ahtyba Rubin, Lee Tibbs and Drenard Williams all will see action in this game. I won't guarantee that but they are twos and they will be ready if we call on them in the game," McCarney said.
Arnaud is Number Two
McCarney made it clear on Monday that Austen Arnaud will be the second string QB in 2006 over senior Kyle Van Winkle. However, it gets a little bit complicated when talking about Arnaud's red-shirt.
"Clearly he (Arnaud) is our number two QB and he has one that. If we were fortunate enough to keep Bret healthy all year, which we did last year, if he pops a string in his pads or he needs to change his shoe or something like that, Kyle Van Winkle will go in. If there is an injury and it looks like he could be out for a while, there is no doubt that Austen is our guy," McCarney said.
Nonetheless, McCarney feels like he can win with Arnaud, if he absolutely has to.
"This is all about 2006 and winning football games. We're going to have him ready."
Special Teams Guru
McCarney named Ryan Baum the
special team's captain against
Baum will be back deep on punt returns to begin Thursday's game, but expect WR R.J. Sumrall to see some time as well.
"He (Baum) and R.J. Sumrall will rotate in, we like them both. Drenard Williams continues to do a good job back there but Ryan will be there when we start the game. The heart and soul of our special teams starts with Ryan Baum."
Griebahn Kicking Off
In one of the surprise moves on the depth chart, junior kicker Josh Griebahn will take over kickoffs for the Cyclones and according to McCarney, it was quite the competition.
"It's not that hard to measure. It's hang time and it's distance. We opened it up for a complete competition and he was definitely our best. Frankly, I could care a less who had the job, I just wanted somebody who could do the job. He's definitely been our most consistent guy."
Inspiration at WR
McCarney announced Monday that senior WR Jon Davis would start on Thursday after tearing his Achilles tendon during spring football.
"I didn't expect last year when he tore his Achillies that he'd be even playing in this game much less going to start," McCarney said.
Not only will
"Both of them are ready to go,
there's no doubt that we're going to start Jon and we'll play
With the opener being on a Thursday, it complicates things just a bit as far as a preparation schedule goes for the team.
"We've still got some work to do in these next few days but this is a Wednesday as far as we're concerned from a preparation standpoint. There are still a lot of things left to do," McCarney said.
One thing is for sure and that is the starting lineup.
"We don't have any decisions to make between now and Thursday as far as to who is starting, it's just a matter of finalizing how much that number two is going to play, what role he has, who's coming in when? Some last minute details and decisions."
As far as
"They've beaten four top 25 teams
in the past three years. That gets attention to your players," McCarney said.
"We are going to have to be at our best. I don't want