FB Notebook: ISU Won't Forget Recent Past

In handing Iowa State the label of favorite for this weekend's game against 20th-ranked Nebraska, oddsmakers have seemed to forget about this series' recent past. Cyclone coach Dan McCarney has not, and with good reason. He has sat back helplessly while his overmatched team endured blowouts of 77-14, 49-14 and 73-14 during a three-year span from 1995-97.

It has gotten markedly better in recent years, especially in 2000 when ISU actually led by one point at halftime and trailed 21-20 with 11 minutes to play before succumbing 49-27.

But the bottom line remains that the Cyclones have simply been dominated in every phase of the game during McCarney's years, and before the eighth-year coach gets too excited about this weekend's line he'd much rather use history as a lesson.

"I don't even pay attention to it. I really don't. It's anybody's game. All I know is it's just been a mauling and mismatch. I'm not trying to beat a dead horse, but we're just trying to make this a good matchup, good game, four-quarter game, a 15-rounder where we're still standing in the end.

"They just have slobber-knocked us. That's what they've done. When you get into games and get mauled at the line of scrimmage, it's hard to win football games no matter what kind of playmakers you have at wide receiver, running back quarterback or defensive back. That's the thing that stands out most in my mind—they have completely whipped us up front on both sides of the ball."

While ISU figures to match up a little better in the trenches in past shellacking, Cyclone players hope that this team will not get down on itself if early adversity and get overmatched in the mental side of the game. Being able to rally against the likes of Iowa and Florida State could help in that department.

"We have to (get off to a good start). It has had to do a little bit with the competition. Those are two outstanding teams, Florida State and Iowa. We've got to do all that we can to avoid that. If it does happen this week, we may not ever have a chance to come back on them.

"At least if it does, we've been there and everybody on this football team knows we have a lot of character, there is courage and we can fight back. But let's do all that we can to avoid that. Let's not put ourselves in that position. We're not coaching that way and don't want it to happen. But if it does happen, we've been there and will fight with everything we have to come back and win the game."

Added wide receiver Jack Whitver: "Since I've been here playing, we go in thinking that we can play with them every year," said wide receiver Jack Whitver. "Maybe in the past before I got here, the mindset was different when we just didn't have anywhere near the talent that Nebraska has. A couple of years ago it was a close game, but last year just got away from us. It was ridiculous. We just hope that we can come out, play good and put on a good show."

Wallace, ISU takes national attention in stride

National media is starting to take notice of Seneca Wallace's Heisman Trophy candidacy and ISU's early-season start and impending game against Nebraska in Ames.

ESPN reporters were on hand Sunday and Monday to interview Wallace for a feature that will air on ESPN's GameDay show Saturday morning. He then took part on a teleconference set up for national media Tuesday afternoon. Wallace has been ranked as high as first on some experts' Heisman Trophy lists.

But even with the added national exposure the star senior quarterback is receiving, he remains humble and focused on the task at hand.

"I thought it was neat," he said. "It was one of those experiences that you never know if it will happen again. I just had fun with it and it was good that my parents could be here too. We walked around for the interview and they asked me some questions. They sat around in my house and talked to my parents yesterday."

What does Wallace's coach think of all the attention his quarterback is getting this week?

"All of a sudden, Sports Illustrated, the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune are coming in," McCarney said. "I talked to Kirk Herbstreit this morning. GameDay has been in talking to Seneca. It can either be a distraction or you can look at it as, ‘Why does it always have to be Austin, Tallahassee, Ann Arbor, Columbus or Lincoln?' Why can't it be Ames? Why can't some people come in here because something positive is happening in this program? It's not a bit of a distraction. I'm not going to let it be for this team."

Person-nelly speaking

In some moves to the depth chart for this week, McCarney announced that true freshman Nick Leaders, a native of Omaha, Nebraska, will make his first career start against the Huskers.

Leaders has made 24 tackles, including three stops for loss, as the most frequently used reserve on the defensive line. He gets the start Saturday at nose guard over third-year sophomore Tim Tebrink.

"(Nick's) been on the field as much or more than any of those guys," McCarney said. "He and Tebrink split the nose guard position and then we go Tebrink at three-technique, Jordan as a five and Leaders. He's really been a starter, so it's no big deal to me or him. He hasn't gotten shook or upset or too excited about anything except going out and playing. He's had as many or more snaps than Tebrink has."

JUCO transfer Collin Menard made the first start of his career last weekend against Troy State and will remain the starter at left guard. However, McCarney said that Luke Vander Sanden could be named the starter this week and will at least be Menard's backup come Saturday.

"We're going to try to work (Luke) in there as soon as we can when we feel like he's ready," McCarney said. "We'll evaluate him in practice the next three nights and see if he's ready to start.

"There's no question that our two best guards are Bobby Montgomery and Luke Vander Sanden. But Luke only played 26 snaps the other night. If we put him on the field and be a starter, we need to make sure that he can be starter and not show up for three series and then have to sit him because he's not in game condition."

The odd man out of Saturday's mix is senior Dewayne Johnson, who started ISU's first four games and is being relegated to third-team status.


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