Football Quotebook: Florida State

Coach Dan McCarney and several Iowa State football players addressed the assembled media on the subject of the season-opener against third-ranked Florida State. And Cyclone Nation was there.

Dan McCarneys' opening comments:

"It's four days until we play and it's always exciting when it's game week and especially the first of the season. It's especially exciting this year because of the circumstances surrounding the first game, what's involved, who we're playing and where we're going. We're real honored to be selected. Now it's just a few days before kickoff."

"Two of the all-time great coaches are associated with this game, with Eddie Robinson and Bobby Bowden. They represent all of the good of what college football is about and it's going to be a thrill for all of us to be down there for it."

"It was a real productive two-a-days. We had a great camp overall. It breaks your heart when you lose kids like (Luke) Vander Sanden and (Boyd) Viers who were very important in our plans. This was a simple one-on-one drill. I've never seen anything like Vander Sanden's deal, where it was one-on-one and almost a no-contact thing. He snapped his ankle and had three screws put on. Hopefully the cast comes off today. They'll X-Ray it. Hopefully he'll be on track to be back for the open week and get ready for the Texas Tech game."

"Boyd Viers will have surgery today. He's out for the season. We'll see as time goes on. I think he still wants to try and come back to play. But he's had left shoulder, right shoulder surgery as a freshman and now knee surgery as a second-year freshman. It can really weigh on you after a while, but we hope he'll stay with the program and stay with us."

"The starting lineups are real close to being set. We'll have our last full padded practice today. We normally go all the way through Wednesday in pads. I'm going to back off if we get the kind of practice I want tonight. We've had lots of practices and meetings. They're very close to being set."

"There are only eight seniors in our top 48 on the football team. It's an underclassmen football team, obviously. That can be good and bad. There are a lot of underclassmen that will be starting and playing and contributing in this game on Saturday night."

"The real newcomers, the kids that just got here that will play, are definitely Emmanuel Valcourt at right tackle, Shaheed Richardson at defensive end and Nick Leaders at nose guard. There are a total of six in this class that will definitely play, with Jon Davis, Kory Pence and Collin Menard. We anticipate playing those kids, too."

"Florida State is in everybody's top five. A lot of people picked them number one in the preseason. They have 17 starters back. All of the offensive line and defensive line starters are back. They have a quarterback that was the freshman of the year in the ACC. They have speed, talent and experience everywhere."

"When Bobby Bowden says this could be a national championship caliber football team, he knows because he's been in a bunch of them. When he speaks, people listen. I'm sure this will be one of the better teams in college football we'll be playing on Saturday night. We can't control anything on their end of it. All we can control is making sure our team is ready to play and are excited about this opportunity."

McCarney on strengths of Florida State:

"Speed. It always has and always will. It's the first time I've ever coached against them. But all of the years I've watched them, the thing you see is they can run away from you and can run away from fast guys. They can run past fast guys. That's what you see. I know we've got some fast guys and a lot of the teams we watch on tape have fast guys. They run away from them. That's the thing that really worries you a lot."

"They're physical, fundamental and well-coached. The tradition is unbelievable and almost un-matched in college football what they've accomplished."

McCarney on importance of pressuring Chris Rix:

"Their entire offensive line is back in tact. They're one of the most athletic offensive lines that I've seen. It's going to be hard. We can't sit in there and expect our front four to pressure him all day long. We're going to have to mix it up and change it up with zone blitzes, max blitzes or rushing five to six, or three. We've got to get some pressure. He got better and better as that season went on and was outstanding in the bowl game when they blew out a good Virginia Tech team. I'm sure he's playing with a lot of confidence now."

McCarney on Rix being able to move around as a quarterback:

"He's an outstanding runner. You see it on tape. I think you'll see two of the better quarterbacks in college football on the same field Saturday night. I haven't seen all of them, but most of them. I think those two are just outstanding. The good thing is our number ones have seen one of the best quarterbacks around everyday in practice. They've got to contain him and chase him and pressure him. They've got to be sound in their coverage against Seneca. So it gives you some hope going into the game that we can do a solid job on defense."

McCarney on shuffling of defensive end Beau Coleman:

"Beau's just come on. There's no question that he and Tyson (Smith) are two of the top four defensive linemen that we have. It's a move we made. Beau has always been able to play rush end and defensive end. We made a decision quite a few practices ago that those were two of the top four that we had, so they had to be on the field. That's the starting lineup. Tyson will start at rush and Beau will start at end. Jordan (Carstens) can play nose, three or a five technique and play outstanding football. Tim Tebrink will be our starting nose guard."

"Nick Leaders and Shaheed Richardson will both play in the game on Saturday night. Nick has had a tremendous camp and it doesn't surprise me one bit. We had him in our camp for high school kids and I saw first-hand what he could do. But this is the Big 12 and Florida State, so it's a big step up."

McCarney on outlook for defensive ends Richardson and Cephus Johnson:

"Cephus is still a redshirt freshman and Shaheed just got here a few weeks ago. They're both still very new and will play. But neither one of them deserve to start on Saturday night. The four in the lineup are the best, based on all of the practices, two scrimmages, mock game and all of the evaluations."

McCarney on rotation at tailback:

" (Michael) Wagner will definitely start, but we feel real good about both of those kids. You'll see a lot of Hiawatha (Rutland) and may see a little bit of Brian Thompson. All three of those backs can play. Wags has just been more consistent. He stepped it up a notch. He improved over the spring. His performance, consistency and big plays all improved over the spring. That's why he deserves to be number one. There's not much of an edge, but he is our number one tailback."

McCarney on place-kicking battle between Tony Yelk and Adam Benike:

"It's just day-to-day, we're evaluating them. I think both of them will play on Saturday night. I think both of them will kick. Tony definitely still has the stronger leg. But we'll continue to evaluate between now and Friday and even in pre-game warmups. Then I'll just go with the gut as far as when they're going to kick. When we get into longer field goals, it's definitely going to be Tony. Shorter field goals I will make a decision in the next few days. PATs, we will make a decision in the next few days. They have both had real good camps. There are no disappointments or surprises. I feel a lot better about that situation than I did last year at this time."

"Tony has been excellent at punting. He averaged 55 yards on seven punts yesterday. He had excellent hang-time. That's not going to happen every time, but it gives an idea on how strong he's been. He's really been booming the ball as a punter."

McCarney on opening up the passing game this season and against Florida State:

"It's hard to say how many times. It's really going to depend on our ability to protect Seneca (Wallace). It's because of Seneca's abilities and the abilities of our wide receiver position. Our three backup receivers could have started in a lot of seasons since I've been here. In our first four or five years, they could have easily been starters. We have six that we could easily go to war with and play winning football with. We trust our receivers and Seneca. Now it's just a matter of if we can protect him. We're going to find out against one of the best pressure defenses in college football."

"There is no way we can go into this game and say we're just going to take the ball and keep it away from their offense and run the ball all night and expect to win. We have to throw the football. Our track record has been strong about being balanced in recent years. But it's going to be really important. We have got to give Seneca a chance in this game to throw the football."

"We still have to have a good rush game. You know how important that is to me and this offense. It's going to be tough, because this defense can play with the best of them."

McCarney on new-look offensive line:

"It's hard to say. Pass protection and techniques take a little more time. But with all of the fronts that you see from defenses these days, it's not easy run blocking either. We basically have lost four starters from a year ago. We lost three to graduation and Luke Vander Sanden. Obviously it's a concern going into this game. Those kids have played well and practiced well since Luke went down. We went with DeWayne (Johnson) at left guard and Monty (Bob Montgomery) at right. It's been a good move."

McCarney on Florida State defense:

"The speed they have and the size, you see it on tape. Their defensive front runs like linebackers and linebackers run like DBs. You have to account for that when you're talking about blitzing, protection and giving your quarterback a chance. What a way to check out your offensive line, with as many new guys as we have, against Florida State's defense. We've got to block them and find a way to make this a four-quarter game."

McCarney on impact of playing Seminoles:

"It's a measuring stick of the program. But I as a head coach need to make sure that the entire season doesn't hinge on this game. It can't. Especially when you start looking at the schedule. We turn right around and start our game preparation for our Big 12 Conference opener. Then there are three or four more teams in the top 10. You've got the Big 12 race and three new teams non-conference that we're playing for the first time. You've got a real good Iowa team to play. I'm not going to get my kids caught up in that thing that everything hinges on this game."

"There is no doubt that it will be. We'll take a lot out of this game and hopefully lots of positives. Whatever happens, we'll be a better football team and know more about our team and learn from it. There is no question that it will help us get ready for the Big 12 and Kansas the next week."

McCarney on ISU's being picked to play in Eddie Robinson Classic:

"This wasn't the only opportunity we had to be involved in a preseason kickoff game. They're not doing it just because we take fans to Phoenix and Shreveport. They see a program that's on the rise and hopefully a program that people are starting to respect. There is some credibility and honor that has been brought to this thing. I don't care whether you're an Iowa State fan or not, when somebody has been down for as long as this place has in football and they start rising up, it's hard not to cheer for us."

McCarney on status of FSU receiver Anquan Boldin:

"We think he's going to play, that's what we're hearing. He's not the only talented receiver. All three of those receivers that played extensively year are extremely talented. The thing that I worry about more than anything is just the height, jumping ability, hands and speed. They've got it all and that's why they'll play at the next level. The only real good, tall receiver we see in practice everyday is Jon Davis. All he needs is some experience and he'll be special here." "But Florida State gets it down the field as good as anybody throwing the ball. They'll test you and test you consistently. If it doesn't work the first time, they're not discouraged."

McCarney on starting lineup being announced in secondary:

"It's real close. Through most of camp it's been listed either/or, or the guy that's behind them now. But now we know those are the starters. They've earned it, pulled away and will start. But you'll easily see four corners and three, maybe four safeties play. We just feel better about more guys. You'll see more kids on the field throughout the game. It's not because of injuries, it's because we trust those backups. We're putting more kids out there and in the long run for the season that will be good for us."

McCarney on linebacker captain Chris Whitaker:

"There's a captain that won't start. But it doesn't take away from his performance, passion or what we means to the team as a leader. We all know in this room what he has overcome to be here with us. He continues to inspire every day. But Mo Word has been more consistent and will definitely start, but Chris will play."

McCarney on any changes in Tony Yelk's mindset heading into fall:

"I think it's been real good. You always worry about those things. We don't talk about it much. I don't go and get a psychology or mental check with a psychologist every day. I think he's come back very determined. He wants to have a real good year. He's got three great years left in his career. It's been real good competition. I feel a lot better about our field goals and PATs than I did last year and hopefully it will look that way on Saturday. We only missed one PAT, but the problem was eight out of 18 field goals. Those two guys manning that spot have got to do a better job for us this year."

"I didn't have any heart-to-heart and shut the door. Tony knows. I talk to him every so often briefly. But he knows I've got a lot of faith in him. He knew that as soon as the Independence Bowl was over and I was not going to lose him in his career at Iowa State because of a missed kick. He's really hungry to be one of the better kickers in college football."

McCarney on transition of JaMaine Billups to strong safety:

"He's been looking real good. He really struggled the first week from a mental standpoint, because it's all new. He didn't have spring ball or last season. We threw the whole system at him. He struggled early, but he's been sensational the last week from a mental standpoint. Like many kids, he just needs to play now at that position. He's had a great camp. It's a great move for he and all of us. He will definitely play at safety on Saturday night."

McCarney on how true freshmen have looked:

"It's a good class. I don't know that there's a bust. It's a little bit early to measure that and say that this guy will never play at Iowa State and he will definitely play. We haven't had them that long. They reported on July 29th. I just like the class overall. We've gone back and forth with a few guys, position-wise. We've got (Ryan) Kock back at fullback now after looking at him at linebacker. No question he's a Division I player. Most of that class we're going to hopefully redshirt, with the exception of having injuries."

Defensive Tackle Jordan Carstens on preparing for Florida State:

"We've been keeping our spirits high and trying to look at the task at hand. Pretty much all aspects of the game they're strong. Chris Rix seems like a real good athlete. Their offensive line, as a whole, seems real strong. Any time you play a big game you feel as if there is something to prove. This is just another chance for us to prove we deserve some respect. I hope that we compare position-by-position with Florida State and earn some respect. The Alabama game gave us some confidence that we could come out against a good team and play well."

Center Zach Butler on how the four new starters on the offensive line are prepared for their debut against Florida State:

"Everyone said before the Alabama game we would be shocked with their speed, but to tell you the truth it wasn't anything unlike the great competition we play in the Big 12 everyday. You have to prepare as a (backup) like you're going to be a (starter) and I think we're ready. (Florida State) is fast, but we have teams like Texas and Oklahoma and I think we'll be prepared for what we're going to see. But we've got to be able to jell or we're not going to do well."

Quarterback Seneca Wallace on the depth at wide receiver:

"I'm real confident knowing that any one of those guys can run and make good catches for me."

Wallace on what playing Florida State means to him:

"Florida State is a fast, physical team that's always been known for having playmakers on offense and defense. It's one of those big games for us and we just need to step up to them. But we're real confident with our gameplan if we run and pass the ball efficiently."

Wallace on putting aside the preseason Heisman hype and concentrating on the season:

"All that stuff they did, I put all that behind me as soon as we started camp and started focusing on the season."


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