Shawn Raney Q&A

If you missed the audio of this recent conversation here's the transcript.

Q:  Coach, we had the first scrimmage here.  Talk about how physical it was out there.  How'd the team look?


Raney:  Well, it's the first scrimmage.  We had a few missed tackles which is expected in the first scrimmage, but it's a chance to get stuff on film and see why they're missing tackles.  We've worked on it and hopefully it will be better Saturday when we work on it again.  Just like you said that's what we're trying to stress to our kids and we're trying to get a lot better at it.


Q:  In terms of who's running with the ones right now…I know nothing's been set in stone…in terms of the d-backs, who's running with the ones, the twos and the threes?


Raney:  Starting corners right now are Drenard Williams and Zac Sandvig and (unintelligible).  At free safety, we're mixing some guys in….Brandon Hunley and James Smith are working at free safety for us. 


Q:  The twos?


Raney:  We've got some guys battling right now.  Allen Bell is a guy that's working with the twos right now.  Devin McDowell is another kid that's getting better every day.  Chris Singleton, he's had some summer classes so he's missed some mornings, but he's with us now and is getting better.  So, that's where we are right now.


Q:  One of the priorities was to make this team not only more physical, but faster.  From the spring scrimmage to the first time you saw these guys in pads, how much faster have these guys gotten over the summer?


Raney:  They've gotten lots faster and have had a huge body change.  If you see the kids from when they got here to now, it's unbelievable.  Chris Brown is a swing guy for us at safety and at corner for us and he's put on about 15 pounds of muscle and really bulked up, but body wise it's unbelievable how much they've changed and their speed has gotten better.


Q:  How has the team responded to the challenge of shutting down the pass?  I know last year they struggled with stopping it.  How has the team responded to the challenge of stopping the pass? 



Raney:  We're getting better.  It's a day-to-day deal.  It's kind of up and down right now.  We're trying to show them where they're making mistakes technique-wise and they're seeing it and I feel like each day we've gotten better.  We still have a ways to go, but I feel they're seeing why they're making mistakes and seeing why stuff is happening to them and we're getting that corrected day by day.


Q:  This team has an outstanding wide receiver core.  How valuable will it be to have these guys going against Todd and Wallace and RJ…you've got receiver after receiver being thrown at these guys?  How valuable of an experience will it be to go against these guys every day in practice?


Raney:  It's great for us.  When you go against other team's whiteouts it's a step down from what you're going against in practice.  We've got every kind of guy…we've got a tall guy that runs great routes, we've got a speed guy, a guy that makes catches.  We're seeing everything that we'll see.  That will benefit us a lot when we get into the season.


Q:  When I looked at the spring pictures from the first time we could come in and then I looked at the second day of practice…the things that stood out to me the most were the calves, the thighs, and the quads.  Heart is important in football, but when you look at these guys what stands out and makes you think that they may be ready to stand up to a physical route?


Raney:  What Jeff and I coach a lot of is confidence.  When you look in the mirror and feel good about yourself, it raises your confidence.  They've increased their speed and size and so they've got more confidence, which carries, into the position that we're coaching.  The strength program has helped our kids tremendously both on and off the field as far as confidence and getting stronger because it is a strength game.  Our part is more speed, but they've got to be strong enough too.  Now we feel like they're getting to the point where they're more comfortable with other teams.


Q:  In terms of…you mentioned that one guy put on 15 pounds.  I talked to Allen and he said that he lost 2-3 pounds of body fat.  What did these guys do in terms of dropping body fat and putting on weight?


Raney:  Coach did a great job with them in the summer.  Working with them to make them football players…not body builders.  It's the muscles that we need…explosive power in the weight room.  That's what they've got so far out of the strength program.


Q:  When you first saw these guys when you got back, did any one or two players jump out at you and you couldn't believe the changes in them?  If so, who were those guys?


Raney:  Chris Brown's body has changed completely and Jerrod Williams has put on some mass up top.  He's had some shoulder problems so that's what we stressed to him is he's got to get some mass around those joints. 


Q:  In terms of just the newcomers, how are they working into the defense?


Raney:  They're doing good.  I've coached junior college so I know where they've been and where they're at.  It's a huge transition for those kids.  Some kids get used to their surroundings a little quicker, but we know there's a learning curve when we sign those guys.  I think one thing about those kids is that they're great kids and they're very happy to be here and be a part of it and they want to get better.  They got to want to and I think all those kids with their character and stuff, that's what they're doing.  But, it's going to be a tough transition.  Junior college kids I've coached in the past, it's like one day they don't seem to know anything and then the light just comes on.  It'll be three, four weeks before they get comfortable with other kids and us as coaches.  We feel good about the kids that we signed.


Q:  You were instrumental in bringing some of these guys in.  Talk about the guys that you helped get on campus.


Raney:  Well, you know, I was at a Kansas JUCO so I've got some ties there….Allen Bell, Chris Weir, Chris Lowe, Wallace Franklin…they're all Kansas kids.  I know a lot of those coaches.  They speak highly of those kids' character which Coach Chizik is big on.  That's a big decision when we're signing a kid.  Those kids are top kids that will fit in this program and that's why we went after them so hard.


Q:  You mentioned one of them…Wallace.  Everytime I mention him to the offensive guys, a smile comes on their face.  Here's a kid that Coach Chizik tried to recruit at Auburn and he goes to JUCOs…Nebraska had wanted him.  How does he fit in here and when you see him now on the field, give us your impressions of him.


Raney:  He can run.  You can't coach that.  He's a really fast kid and he knows the routes and can get off bump coverage.  What we needed was a speed guy and when we saw him on tape, that's what we saw.  The coaches I knew there said he could fly.  That's what we saw on tape and that's what he is.  He's got to learn the offense and where to fit in and run routes and block.  There's a lot more to it than running fast.


Q:  Do they have any time on him?


Raney:  No, not really.  You get 40 times from different places and I know Butler County, I was there, they run on a track in spikes so it's a football time and track time with them, but he's fast…he's fast enough…he's what you want out of a speed receiver. 


Q:  You get a chance to see some of the other guys.  There's some guys that got a lot of attention on media day…central focus was JJ Bass…how's he looking out there?


Raney:  He's looking good.  He's a good looking athlete.  The thing about football is you can't play it if you're not comfortable with what you're doing and have confidence in what you're doing.  The guys right now are at that point, but I think their confidence is growing every day and I think it will be a steady rise until the light comes on and they feel comfortable with everything and can play without thinking.  That's the point we're trying to get them to right now. 


Q:  Now I have a personal bias.  I've always liked fullbacks.  I've always liked guys that could hit hard.  We're hearing about JJ and we're hearing about how Jason's doing, but you guys have a really big young back in here with Cameron Bell.  I think he's between 230 and 235 right now.  That's a nice size for a back.  How's he looking out there?


Raney:  He's looking good.  He had a couple runs during the scrimmage and he's a big powerful back that's hard to bring down.  He runs hard.  When you get 240 behind you that can run a little bit, which he can…it's a load back there.  He's doing good.  He's a good kid.


Q:  We know the defensive line is where Coach Chizik says it begins.  How's the defensive line looking out there right now?


Raney:  It's good.  We're throwing a lot of stuff at them that they're trying to learn.  It's the same with the secondary and with the linebackers.  I think we got a chance to be good up front with the guys we got coming back and the mixture that we have from this signing class.


Q:  We've heard Michael Bibbs has cover speed.  What does he look like when you get pads on him and get him out on the field?


Raney:  He's a good-looking kid.  He's a kid that's trying to learn and trying to do everything.  Once he figures out where he's supposed to be and can play at the speed that he can play at, he's going to help us a lot.


Q:  Coach McFarland said that the defenses are going to have to pick their poison.  In going up against his offensive schemes, how is that helping to prepare this team for whatever they might see?


Raney:  Coach Koonz and I have had a lot of conversations about that.  We're seeing just about every formation you can see and it seems like they never run the same play twice.  It's been great for us because they're having to make adjustments we don't normally see until later in the season.  We're seeing everything.  It's huge for us.  It's a pain, but it's really good for our kids because they're seeing a lot of things.


Q:  If you're seeing that now, what do you think it will be like when you actually step on the field against opposing defenses?  How wide open do you think he'll make it there?


Raney:  I think he can spread the field or run it.  I think it'll be tough with all the different formations and stuff that he does. 


Q:  A lot of the "experts" which are only slightly less accurate than a monkey throwing a dart at a board, have said that they don't think Iowa State is going to do much this year.  How much of a motivation has that been for both the staff and the players this year?


Raney:  It's a lot of motivation.  They don't see the way we work our kids.  We read that stuff and we know what's being said and it's motivation to say that you aren't a BCS coach for us also.  It's motivation for us and our kids. 


Q:  In terms of the philosophy of when the team steps on the field…both offensive and defensive philosophy, two of the last three years this program had a chance to win the Big 12 North and lost the last game of the season and blew the opportunity, but it was also conservative.  An example that was used by one of our subscribers was a game against Kansas and a guy that's now in the NFL, Sage Rosenfelt, was leading the team down the field, brought them back, ran the ball three times into the line, missed the game tying field goal.  The quote from Sage was, "Coach was afraid we'd turn over the ball."  Now, how important is it for this unit to go out there and just literally step on the other team and maybe run up the score and send a message from the beginning all the way to the end that little dogs shouldn't bark if they can't bite.


Raney:  What we're trying to do each day is get better.  We're not worried about anything else, but we have two-a-day practices.  That's kind of the point we're at.  We've got a lot of guys that are learning defense and offense and we're not even looking at anything else.  We're just trying to get better each day and get our kids confident in what we're trying to teach them and believe in it.  All of that stuff will take care of itself later down the road


Q:  Confidence and physicality are important, but is the ability to intimidate the other team important too?


Raney:  It is, but I think without the other two it doesn't matter.  If you're not doing things right and not running around being physical, you aren't going to intimidate anyone so it starts with that.  Believing in what we're trying to teach them and having confidence and executing plays on offense and defense.


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