Football Quotebook: Troy State

Dan McCarney:

General comments:

"It's great to be back home again this week. We've got a three-game homestand and have gotten off to a good start with our home games. We're not taking one thing for granted. It's a great challenge coming in here. We're proud of the win over Iowa, but it's time to move on."

"We got the whole game behind us yesterday. There were a lot of really good things and mistakes and breakdowns. Those are things as coaches we've got to get corrected and work on. But it was a tremendous win. We're very proud to bring that trophy back to Ames and keep it here for another year, but the game is over and behind us."

"Luke Vander Sanden started practice yesterday and was running full speed last week, which is great. He practiced last night in just our normal shorts practice for Monday. We will gradually work him into practice this week and if we feel like he's ready to play he will play some Saturday. It's been about four weeks for him. The injury was actually on August 9th and surgery was the same day. He's definitely ahead of schedule from what we thought. Luke's done a phenomenal job from a rehab standpoint. If he's ready to go, we'll play him Saturday and then see if he has the chance to work back into the starting lineup in the near future."

"Bryan Ollie broke his thumb in the game the other night and he'll be out about three weeks. That was the only other injury. It was on special teams. He's been a very valuable special teams guy and we're sorry about that. Fortunately he'll be back, we think, for the Texas Tech game."

"The special teams captain this week will be Todd Miller, who has done an outstanding job for us as our punt return guy."

"Troy State is an excellent football team. A lot of people don't know that much about them around here, but we know an awful lot about them. We've been studying them for a long time. Larry Blakeney has done a great job. He's in 12th season down there and has 16 starters returning from last year and 15 of them are seniors. It's a much more senior dominated team than the one I coach. When you go in and do what they did in Lincoln last year and it was 17-7 at Miami with a national championship team at halftime last year. They go win at Mississippi State and beat North Texas State, which went to a bowl game last year. This year they out-rushed Nebraska, 347-313. So it doesn't take long to get the attention of my team and my staff."

"They're very physical and are fifth in the country in rush offense, fifth in the country in pass defense, 10th in the country in total defense and 22nd in the country in total offense with a spread offense. They've got tremendous respect from our program and we're going to have to continue to improve this week to have a chance to win on Saturday night."

On Troy State using a spread offense:

"That's something they want to do. They're a big, strong and physical Big 12 looking offensive line up front. They have good backs. A lot of those yards came last week when they just annihilated Southern Utah. As bad as the score was, it's worse watching it on tape. They just manhandled them."

On Trojans playing in Jack Trice Stadium's environment:

"Troy State plays eight games on the road and very few home games. They're not a bit intimidated coming into Ames, Iowa. They've been to Lincoln, Mississippi State and to some other places. They play on hard and are very physical. There's no question that some players in their program could start for our team."

On team not looking past opponent:

"It better be emotional this Saturday, because if we come out there flat thinking we can go through the motions or put a hat out there, we're in for a long night and rude awakening of getting out tails beat. They're a very physical football team. You can ask Nebraska on that one. They play hard and extremely physical football. We cannot afford to show up for a football game not ready to go without a great gameplan and focus."

On team looking to pass a lot against Iowa:

"We get out-rushed 220 to 85 yards, which is really poor. That's something we addressed yesterday. We were still fortunate to win the game when you get out-rushed that badly in a football game. But a lot of that was in the first half and we only gave up 41 yards rushing in the second half. But they pummeled us in the first half running the football. We had a lot of trouble."

"There is no drop-off in Iowa's rush defense from a year ago, even though they lost three starters up front. They're big, physical and strong. We tried a lot of different things. We're pretty good at running the football over the last eight years at Iowa State and we couldn't get it done."

"We knew going into the game that we had to protect, throw and catch, but darn sure thought we'd rush for more than 85 yards. Some of that had to do with our ineffectiveness running the football."

On need to win rushing yards battle:

"We challenged our football team this week and have got to improve our rush offense and rush defense. We've got to improve that if we're going to go on and have the chance to have a good season. We have to improve it immediately."

On overcoming slow starts against Iowa and Florida State:

"We break it down and I don't agree that it was a slow start (on Saturday). The first three series our defense is on the field, first of all we have a poor kick that's not where it's supposed to be and our whole coverage is out of whack. They get the ball at midfield. In two plays we come up with a guy unblocked and miss a tackle. It's inexcusable. We put our head in the ground, don't tackle anybody, they look super and we look ridiculous."

"Then it's six plays and punt, seven plays and fourth down stop, so we can't play much better than that. I don't agree that it was a slow start. I didn't sense any that we were flat or unemotional. I'm not buying that. After those first three series, I thought we played real good and then they just whacked us. They physically got after us and were a much better team and played with more urgency and toughness. They played much better football than we did in the first half."

"But it's obvious that we liked the start of the second and third games than the first and fourth, where it's 17-0 and 36-7. Then we came out focused in the second half and didn't let up a bit."

"It's important in this game of football that you always start fast. Both coaches are saying the same things to their players, but there's only one of them that starts fast. Rarely will you see both teams starting fast, since usually one is suffering. We need to do a better job of that and hopefully we can get off to a better start this week."

On what team has done defensively to chance momentum in those two games:

"We tackled better and played better physically. We started knocking Iowa's offensive line back and penetrating gaps in the second half. Regardless of who was at running back, it was a different scene at the line of scrimmage in that second half whoever was back there. All of those backs at Iowa can play. Whether Russell is in there or he's not, I'm not buying that had any effect on the football game. The difference was what was happening at the line of scrimmage and we started knocking them back, penetrating, playing more physical and making better tackles, rather than all of a sudden a back out of the lineup changing the game. We played a lot better defense because we were a lot more physical."

"The first half it looked like a scout team. We looked like a scout team defense out there servicing them like they were holding up cards saying what they wanted you to do and to please line up right here and we'll whack your rear end. That's what it looked like to me."

on Iowa State's being ranked in both top 25 polls:

"First of all I'm not getting too carried away with it. I counted seven teams dropping out last week. You're one loss away from dropping fast out of there, just ask a number of teams from last week. As I told the team, the end of the year is a lot more meaningful. Two years ago we finished the season in the top 25 and that had great meaning to it. This has some meaning to it, but it can change real fast on the outcome of Saturday's game."

"But we started with a winless program and are in the top 25 for the first time since 1981. It's nice to have some people at least thinking Iowa State's a good program. Those are things that are a part of the tradition and legacy that this team and program is building. So it's great, we enjoy it, it's nice, but let's stay there and do all that we can. The only thing that controls and impacts that is winning."

On Iowa State not being one of 50 teams in preseason that received votes for poll:

"I didn't realize that. I just knew that nobody was getting too excited about Iowa State before the season started except for us here. But we got off to a good start, even in a loss to Florida State. That probably gathered as much respect and credibility around the country as anything, because everybody knows Florida State is a great program. Then the way we've played the last three weeks overall (probably affected it). Overall we have played good football and hopefully we can keep it going."

On Troy State getting up for this game:

"They don't flinch and are not intimidated one bit from playing good teams in good environments. If you can go in there and go nose to nose and toe to toe with Nebraska in Lincoln, that says something. They've played them a lot better in Lincoln than we ever have, so we've got great respect for the team coming in here. They're very physical and I'm sure are anxious to get here and play."

On how many adjustments were made from first to second half Saturday:

"There are always going to be some adjustments, we're playing our stuff but are just playing it better as the game goes on. We still have some new kids out there. We have a true freshman in there playing most of the game at nose guard. You think Anthony Forrest is a veteran, but he only played a little bit last year. JaMaine Billups has been a D.B. for four weeks. Tim Tebrink played a handful of snaps last year. We've got some guys that have a big role on this defense and they're learning. It's an ongoing process."

"We're not the most physical bunch in the world on defense. There are a lot of defenses that are bigger, stronger and more physical than we are. But what we're getting right now is real good effort from our kids. We have to get that. Our chance to have a good defense is to play relentless all the time."

On team's thought that it's never out of a game:

"We found that out in the first game. You don't really know those things through spring ball or two-a-days. You talk about it, preach it and hope it sticks, but you don't find out about it until gameday. There's no question that in the second half of Florida State, the team grows up. When you have a quarterback as confident as Seneca Wallace is, believe me, it rubs off on all of those other kids. You have to have players that believe and it's led by Seneca. There is a real maturity and confidence on this team."

On JaMaine Billups taking over starting job at strong safety:

"He was just more productive. He was more effective and has been more physical tackling. There is nothing around here that's permanent. Even in the joy, celebration and jubilation of the win over Iowa, you're going to get evaluated every play of your performance. There were some guys on the team that have to play better. We all won as a team just like we lose as a team, but we're still going to sit down and evaluate every play and give a plus or minus on every one. JaMaine has just been more effective. He's a better tackler right now than Anthony. They'll both play as they have in the first four games. It's amazing what he's done, because there are some pretty good teams out there that we've played."

On what thought was when Billups was recruited to ISU:

"What we thought all along when we recruited him is that he was going to be a running back. We go so long in evaluations and opportunities, then we have to make a move that we think is best for him and our team. That's what we did. He had all last season and spring football, but was not moving into the two-deep. He's a darn good number three, but we felt like we had to do it."

On his being upset at halftime of Cyclone-Hawkeye game:

"That's one of the top three or four I think. We were just trying to educate and motivate them at halftime. The most important thing was the kids had to understand and believe that we could win that game. We made some adjustments, but there were not many X-and-O adjustments. We didn't take a lot of time as a staff to make adjustments, because I knew what we were doing was right. We just had to do it a lot better, more physical and with a lot more urgency and toughness. That was not Cyclone Football in the first half."

More on Vander Sanden's return:

"He was running full speed last week in shorts and a t-shirt, but that's not playing football, blocking guys, pass protecting and run blocking. If he does a good job in practice this week, then we will definitely play him Saturday off the bench. He and Bobby Montgomery were our two best guards coming out of spring ball and two-a-days until Luke got hurt."

"We don't know about his game conditioning. He has stayed on top of everything and hasn't missed a meeting or one play out there. He's always there and listening to Marty Fine. I don't have one problem with his mental stuff, because I know he knows what he's doing. I can't remember the last time he had a mental error as a player for us. He's real sharp, but it's just a matter of going out and doing it full speed against a real good defensive front seven."

"He won't be out there finessing and shielding guys. You'd better come ready to block them and play physical and relentless all out-blocking them. That's the way he has to play. We'll see and if he's not ready, is tentative, limps a little bit or is not effective, then we're not going to throw him out there knowing he can't have success."

On job offensive coordinator Steve Brickey has done thus far:

"It didn't take me but two minutes when Steve (Loney) made the decision to go to Minnesota who my coordinator was going to be. When you're down there in the offices and meeting rooms year-round like we are, you know of people's abilities and what they can do. The trust level has been so strong. He's done such a great job as a quarterback coach with Sage (Rosenfels) and Seneca (Wallace) last year. He's done a tremendous job. We've lost three outstanding coaches, but we haven't missed a beat."

On place-kicker Adam Benike's emergence:

"He was really outstanding on Saturday. I told him right after the miss on Saturday that he was going to help us win this game and that he was still our guy. He still is. We sure haven't given up on Tony (Yelk), but that's a real story through the first month of the season, the consistency of Benike. Those two fourth-quarter field goals were just absolutely outstanding and had a lot to do with us winning the game."

On Lance Young moving past Jamaul Montgomery on depth chart:

"It's just very competitive. Jamaul had some mistakes and he has to be more consistent. We all know he has talent. He'll continue to have a major role in our offense. But Lance is really a good player. We feel like we've got two starters there, but Lance deserves this opportunity to start. Both of them will play a lot, but there's a guy that's the starter and one that's a backup. That's the way it will be this week."

Harold Clewis on Cyclones being ranked:

"Of course this is a good thing that we've finally made it up to the top 25, but we've got to keep working like we have been. We've got to stay on track and not really worry about that. The only thing that matters is where we finish up. We've got to keep going, playing hard and move up as we go along. We're shooting for as high as we can get, but have to take it one game at a time."

Clewis on Troy State's offense:

"It seems like they like to pass a lot running the spread. We haven't broken it down thoroughly yet. I haven't really even watched much film on them yet."

Jack Whitver on what being ranked can do for program:

"Every newspaper in the country publishes a top 25 so kids around the country are seeing that. We're proud to be there, but there are a lot of teams that come in for one or two weeks but drop out. Our main focus is trying to stay there and win ball games. We have to stay in there and keep building off of it."

Whitver on Troy State's incentive for playing ISU:

"It gives Troy State a lot of incentive to win this game, because if they beat a top-25 team then their recruits are going to start to notice stuff like that. It's definitely something they're looking at."

Seneca Wallace on moving past Iowa, focusing on Troy State:

"We put that behind us. We went over there, played hard and it was a good game. But that's over with and we've got to look forward to next game."

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