CN: At National Signing Day you had mentioned the importance of getting your young linemen in so they would have a chance to start where everyone else did. Talk about how the recruits that you brought in are coming along, and also how the overall offensive line is coming along.
McFarland: The exciting thing for them or the great thing for them was that they came in here and started with everybody else. No one had a leg-up on them, you know, they all started the first day with us like the rest of the guys did. I think that might be the best thing for them is that they're on an even keel with everyone right now as far as expectations, how we work in the weight room, what we expect of them in the classroom, and how we expect them to practice and compete. So they're on the same pace as everyone else; no one has an advantage over them, so I think coming in here things are pretty much even. It's a brand-new offense as well, so everyone's learning the offense at the same pace and the same time, so the competition's wide open. I think those guys have as equal an opportunity as anybody else. We've been very pleased about getting them in here. Obviously they've proven themselves at one level, and it's an opportunity now to step it up at the next level. But they've been able to come in here and learn, through the workouts, what it takes to work out and get things done at this level as well. So we've been pleased with them so far; I think with the rest of the guys we've been pleased as well, too, so it's been a pleasant surprise so far how they've adapted so well and how we're doing.
CN: When we look at some of the JUCOs you're bringing in, there are two that stand out—Wallace Franklin and Jamicah Bass. I know they're not in here now, but how do you foresee them being integrated into the offense?
RM: Obviously we hope to get those guys here this summer and they'll be able to, you know, get used to going to school and getting acclimated to Ames. We'll get them working out with our coaches in the summer programs and get them conditioned and shaped up to those guys that are here. And then obviously the players, they'll conduct workouts within themselves, whatever they want to work with one another as far as pass skills with one another or things like that, so they'll get a general idea of what's going on. But obviously they'll be behind. They'll be 15 practices behind, and a whole 4 months behind on what we are as a staff. So there's a learning curve that has to happen. Our strength coaches, I know, will do a great job as far as getting them up to us, pretty much where they need to be when we get them in August. But yeah, they will start from behind, but they're very talented players that we feel will have an opportunity to come in here and compete. Just how quick they learn things will determine that.
CN: How's the strength and conditioning coming along for the offense?
RM: I tell you, just this whole football team, not just the offense, when you see the change that these young men have gone through with their bodies, I can't say enough about Coach Sheppard and his staff. It is just truly an amazing thing to see happen right in front of you in just three months. And our players see it, too. The players are excited about it and as a coaching staff you couldn't ask for anything better. That's really the heart of your program. Coach Sheppard and his staff…I can't say enough about them and the outstanding job they're doing.
CN: One of the most impressive things today was the intensity with which these guys started off right from the beginning. How important is it that they understand that this is about business?
RM: They're going to understand what it's going to be to play the Cyclone way, and Coach Chizik has definitely laid the groundwork for that with what he expects and what he's going to demand. Today was a good start, but it's not where we need to be. Coach Chizik will sit there with the staff and then with the team and address those issues that need to be corrected. I really feel that by the end of spring, once you get to practices 10, 11, 12 on, I think you'll see more of the tempo and speed of what they really should look like out here, but it was very pleasing to see where we were at this point. I think a lot of that has to go to our strength and conditioning staff and the intensity they have brought to their workouts to get these guys up to the level they are right now.
CN: One of the things I know our subscribers are interested in knowing about are any position changes. Any updates there?
RM: Right now there's been no changes, and we obviously have set some depth charts to start with just to get a starting point. Once we get these pads on, I think we'll have a better feel of who might need to switch a position or where we might need help to have a position change happen. So right now it's still early in the stages to make any switches I think right now, and I don't foresee anything happening until at least halfway through the spring drills.
CN: What happened with Joe McMahon?
RM: Joe is not with us right now, and he's working on, you know, handling his business as far as academics and other stuff. It just wasn't at this time, you know, the right time for him to be out here for practices and all that stuff and we'll wait and see what happens with that.
CN: So do you anticipate that he'll be back or you just aren't sure yet?
RM: Right now, you know, that's between Joe and Coach Chizik and Coach Chizik's just said right now we'll move ahead right now where we're at, and then we'll see how this all pans out as the semester goes on.
CN: You've talked about your offense being sort of wide-open. Just give us a breakdown of what we can look forward to in terms of your offense. We saw some good things in your past; what can we look forward to this season?
RM: Well, hopefully we'll be a football team that's able to throw the ball. Obviously we feel like we have a very talented quarterback returning in Bret Meyer. Hopefully with the stock of receivers we already have here and the ones coming in we'll be able to spread the field a little bit with four-wides and make some things happen offensively for us. So obviously it's day one out here, and we'll look at the film and see where we're at and make corrections and try to get better. But the more we stay in the spread the more they'll get used to how it can help them and what it can do for them.