Chizik: It came down to the end. They played great against Iowa State last year. They're a great 1AA team. Obviously they have a lot of talent. They have a lot of transfers that are really good players. They're going to be a great opponent for us.
Q: They have a lot of players left on both offense and defense from last year. Has that team been helpful?
Chizik: It has. We watched the game they played Saturday to see what they are doing differently or the same. They're very good at what they do. This game…we're going to have to play a lot better than we did Saturday to beat them.
Q: One positive that came out was that you had a running back that had 100 yards by the half and finished over that. Can you talk about him?
Chizik: JJ had a nice game. Obviously we weren't as productive in the second half as we would have liked to have been. He did a nice job for us. We have a lot of way to go in our running game. I thought it was below average at best and the first half was better than the second. He did a nice job for it being his first Big 12 game. We have to continue to build on that. Every week will be a challenge for him with just protections…not just running the football because we ask him to do a lot more than that.
Q: There seems to be a stigma for a 1A coach when you lose a 1AA game and people are almost piling on Michigan's Lloyd Carr after that game against Appalachian State. Is it worth the risk of playing a 1AA team?
Chizik: Well, you know that's a good question. Obviously there's not a whole lot to gain from that when you're in one of the major conferences. There's not a whole lot to gain for your team when you're playing one of those top echelon teams and Appalachian State is obviously top of the market in 1AA football. Northern Iowa is the same thing. I think it's great for us because it's an instate rivalry that excites the people of this state, but when it comes to what Iowa State gains out of it…it's tough because Northern Iowa is a good enough opponent to beat you on any night. We'll have to play really well against those guys.
Q: After what happened with Appalachian State, do you think your guys' antenna will be up a little bit more because of what happened?
Chizik: I think so. Our guys attention should be up anyway because we lost our opener, but certainly because Appalachian State went in there and beat Michigan and obviously, that's a hard pill to swallow for any Michigan fan or people in the Big 10. I think it opens everyone's eyes across the country. We've talked about it and again, I think there should be a sense of urgency.
Q: Could you talk about your decision to put Phillip Bates in the game last week?
Chizik: Well, you know we feel that Phillip is a good athlete. He's one of the guys that when we get him into the season, he can help us with some things on offense. He can do so many different things. We felt like we needed to get him in there and get him the ball and see what he does with it. Get him a little bit more involved as the weeks go on and get his athletic ability on the field for us and see if he can make something happen.
Q: What was the rational behind taking the names off the back of your players' jerseys?
Chizik: Well, basically this is a team game and if they want someone to know what their name is, they have to do something to get their attention and this isn't a game about "look at me." It's a team game. If they play well enough, people will know what their names are.
Q: Getting back to the Michigan and Appalachian State game. Do you think an upset like that is good for college football as a whole?
Chizik: I don't know if I have a good answer for that. It's good for Appalachian State and bad for Michigan. It depends on what side you're on. I've been on both sides. I've been on your Division 1AA sidelines and the Division 1A sidelines. There's more parody in Division 1AA and Division 1A than people realize. There are a lot of great football teams out there that don't have 85 scholarships…they have 63. They've got good players, but the difference a lot of time is depth issues and to be quite honest with you, there's been a bunch of them now. That one just got everyone's attention. Montana State beat Colorado. You can go down the list…there's been more than that. Is it good for college football? I don't know the answer to that. It really opens people's eyes to how good those other conferences and leagues are. I think there's a lot more balance from team to team than people realize. If Appalachian State can beat Michigan, think about how many more Division 1 schools Appalachian State can beat. I think it's an eye opener for everyone that there are a lot of other divisions out there that have great football.
Note: (can't tell who is talking) Saturday night is Cardinal Rules night. People are encouraged to wear cardinal color clothing. They can also purchase cardinal colored t-shirts that have the fight song on the back at various retailers that are detailed at www.cyclones.com. In addition, this is Hall of Fame weekend; the latest 9 inductees will be honored at a banquet on Friday night and on Saturday evening at the game. One of the attendees will be Troy Davis who rushed for more than 2,000 yards. In addition, there is Iowa State and UNI action in soccer and that starts at 7pm at the soccer complex.
Q: Coach, is the offense you ran the other night what we will see the rest of the season or will you expand and do other things?
Chizik: We will expand and do other things. We weren't near as sharp as we ought to be. We were very inconsistent. In terms of what you are going to see, that's part of it, but it will be executed at a much higher level.
Q: Coach, looking at the play by play, you had stated some things at the beginning of the season. You wanted to establish the run…you had a 100 yard back in the first half…the loss stings, but talk about the positives that came out of this game and some of the goals that you were able to accomplish the first game.
Chizik: It did sting, but you do have to find the gold lining. There were a lot of good things that happened. I feel in the first half, we ran the football like we wanted to. I feel like the defense the first half had the back against the wall and stood up and delivered. We tried to be physical on both sides of the ball, but we got sloppy. Our punt team pinned them inside the 20 a couple times. We did a lot of good things, but obviously we didn't do enough to win. We have to go back and try to perfect the things we weren't good at. We now know where we are at and we now know we were below average Thursday night. We have a measuring stick as to where we are and where we need to get to.
Q: Were most of the mistakes correctable?
Chizik: I think that is the thing that is the most encouraging…everything out there was correct. When we show our kids the film and they see it. They cringe. I think those are all the evils that you anticipate happening in your first game and they did. I think all our worst nightmares came true Thursday night. We're not discouraged. Again, we know where we're at and know where we have to get to. The process will continue to grow. Everything we saw on that football game is very fixable. We just have to get it fixed.
Q: The big question coming into the opening game was the offensive line. I think some of the guys said that you weren't sure which 5 of the guys would be in there until about maybe a week before the game. But they seemed to play pretty well. Where did you see them starting to gel and do you see that as a strength for the team?
Chizik: I do not. To the untrained eye, it might have appeared that they played decent. Us, starting with Coach McFarland and myself…we feel we have a lot to be desired on the offensive line. That game was a below average game, but very physical. It had nothing to do with effort, but with concentrating and doing the things that you're coached to do. I won't stop there and say it's just the offensive line. It's a lot of positions. We have a lot of growing to do on the offensive line. They have to understand the physicality and the tempo of the game and they are not anywhere near where we need them to be.
Q: You talked about being physical. You can make guys stronger, but is being physical naturally in a guy or can you coach that?
Chizik: That's a great question. That's the million-dollar question. I think it's a mentality that you have to build. It comes with doing it and gaining more confidence. It's something that you can't talk about and hope they get it. You have to be it in practice. We tried to do it to the best of our ability, but there's a fine line in there between being tough and dumb tough. You can be dumb tough and end up with no players left. We're really trying to develop that mentality. I think if you looked at the first half and the way they ran the football, you'd say it looked like there was a glimmer of what we wanted it to look like, but then you come back in the second half and the running game is pretty much non-existent. There were times where they were physical and there were times where they did what we asked them to do. I enjoyed the time where they did what we asked them to do and we had some success. Is being physical something they have in them? I think it's a little bit of both. Some guys have it and some get it through confidence and doing it in practice.
Q: What did you see from your defensive front, particularly the tackles?
Chizik: Very average. Very average. Not every play, but as a whole for me to say that our defensive line was average is being kind from what our staff's expectations were. The fun thing about this kind of thing is it's all a process. Defensive line was average at best…we missed sacks, we didn't get enough pressure on the quarterback, we didn't get off the field on third down as much as we could have. I thought it was a great example of being very average.
Q: What did you say to Brett as far as how he can avoid the mistakes he made last time? And, how many of those mistakes were due to jitters as opposed to adapting to a new system?
Chizik: I think they were just decisions that he's got to make. He has to make better decisions. By no means are we putting anything on one guy. I think sometimes the quarterback makes a bad decision, but it's because someone was supposed to be blocking the guy that's in his face. But Brett knows he has to manage the game better. He can't throw two interceptions and turn the ball over twice and think we're going to win over anybody…ever. So, one thing that was good is that we moved him around enough that we gave up one sack and they were blitzing a lot.
Q: How impatient are you going to be with him as far as…?
Chizik: Like I told the whole football team, I can only stand being below average so long. It's not Brett, it's not the offensive line, it's everybody. I want to see a market improvement every week and eventually if we aren't getting the results, we'll make changes. That's not threatening anybody. Nobody's panicking. We're going back to work, but there will be an expectation of improvement from every guy.
Q: Is this a good opponent? It seems that Kent State and UNI are similar in terms of talent. Is this a good way of measuring how much progress?
Chizik: It really is. It really wouldn't matter who it is. For us to get out of where we're at without panicking, everyone has to get better with what they do…the coaches have to get better…starting with me with what we coach…that's special teams, offensive, defensive…everything starts with me. I'm not exempt from any of this. I've got to do better coaching. The coaches have to do a better job of individually coaching each player. Players have to do a better job understanding right now that there is an urgency to do their jobs better right now. It starts with me and goes all the way down to the guy sitting on the bench and playing two plays a game. They understand where we are coming from. That's everybody. In this game, there will be urgency in our staff and our players to get better. We need to see it every week.
Q: You're playing a 1-AA team one-week after what Appalachian State did to Michigan. Talk about that level of play, the talent they have. Was it surprising?
Chizik: There are a lot of great leagues and players out there that seemingly shouldn't be able to beat Michigan or a BCS-type team. I've been in 1-AA football for a lot of years and had NFL players come out of those leagues. What people don't understand is that they've got a lot of great talent. The difference is they don't get scholarships so usually it's a depth issue. But, when you talk about quarterbacks, tailbacks, offensive lines…they won't look any different. They'll look as big and as pretty and as athletic as anybody on our field. I haven't seen Northern Iowa in person this year or in the last five years, but my guess is they'll come out here and look exactly like us. My guess is they'll be very talented. I think that's what Appalachian State was. That's what any of the upper-echelon teams that are in that league, Northern Iowas, Texas State, Appalachian States, you better hang on with both hands now. Look at Montana State last year with Colorado. That one caught everyone's attention, but it's happened a lot over the years. Obviously they haven't upset a team ranked number five in the country, but that's what has everyone's attention. I think it's a great eye-opener for everyone to see how much talent is out there in these other leagues.
Q: Coach, are there going to be any position changes? Any significant changes in who will be starting on Saturday versus who started Thursday night?
Chizik: Right now we're going to see how practice goes. I want everyone to understand…there's absolutely no panic. This ship was set to sail and we started off slow. Like I told everyone, there will be an expected urgency in your game. We're going to show you what we want corrected and we'll give you time to correct it, but the hourglass is ticking now. Right now, I don't see any changes. If you ask me that three weeks from now, the answer might be different. And again, I'm on a quest for perfection and what we're asking these guys to deliver. There will be a period of time right now where we are going to note it's a growing period, but there has to be definitive improvement.
Q: (couldn't hear)
Chizik: I wouldn't say that. I would say when I look at things, we rushed for "x" number of yards, but how many did we miss? If we get our blocks and we block things right and we do some different things right now, could we have rushed for 250 yards? That's how I look at it. It's not what necessarily we got; it's what we could have had that we didn't get. If I sat there and said, "They gave us only this front and this is all the running room that we could have got and we rushed for 160 yards" and I thought we got every inch out of that we could, then I would be pleased. I think quite the opposite. I don't think Coach McFarland feels differently than I do. I don't want to keep saying that about the offensive line or anybody for that matter. That's the whole team.
Q: We saw Robinson, we saw Bass. Why not Jason Scales and will we see him this Saturday?
Chizik: You can see any of the three this Saturday. Obviously right now, we started Alex and JJ came in. That was our plan. We went with the two best that gave us a chance to win. If Jason ends up being in that mix, which week to week he will be, we'll play him.
Q: Are you looking at only two a week?
Chizik: Not necessarily. We could play three a week. A lot depends to me on the week of practice they have. What we're seeing from a defense. Certain guys are better at defending a quarterback and protection. Some guys are better at the type of running play we have to use for that week. I think those are all the variables we have to look at.
Q: Was missed tackling the biggest frustration?
Chizik: I've got to give that guy a lot of credit. That guy…I'm not sure if we were in a phone booth or whatnot…he was really good and I thought we were really below average. I thought there were times when we really should have been able to wrap up. Again, those are the things that are your worst nightmares in your opening game…that you aren't going to be a good tackling football team. When it came to the rest of the tackling issues with running backs, we were ok, but he seemed to escape us. That's why he's brought that team to where they are. He's done that with everybody.
Q: What about Sanders? How does he compare?
Chizik: Really really close. Great escape ability…very impressive young man. It'll be the same type of deal…third downs…can we bring him down if he's scrambling?
Q: Can you explain the red shirt rules? We saw Phillip Bates out there. Can you talk about that? And finally can you talk about why it's so important to establish the run…whether it's ball control or some of the other reasons the run sets everything else up?
Chizik: Redshirting right now…we've pinpointed some guys we will not redshirt…he's one of them. We just think Phillip brings a lot to the table and so we're again, trying to find ways to get him on the field and acclimate him to Big 12 football. We think he's a special talent. When you go into any league right now, your running game, your play action game, they play off of each other. We're a team that's just not going to drop back pass right now and let guys tee off of us and go. We're not good enough right now to let that happen. That's how you get your quarterback hit. We feel like we have to move the pocket and do some things that you saw Saturday night whether it be sprint outs or boots…obviously those all come off the running game. If we continue to improve in our running game and show some semblance of success, I think it sets up some of our play action stuff…like the touchdown pass that you saw…that was off a play action, a run game. I think they complement each other very well and I think you have to do both.
Q: Coach, you said that you hadn't seen Northern Iowa in five years. You had seen them before that?
Chizik: We played against them when I was a student at Boston.
Q: JJ is rooming with Todd and Brett. Was that your decision or is that something that they did? How important is it to have the young guy with some of the elders?
Chizik: I didn't have any say in that one way or another. It's good that they took him under their wing is the best thing I can say. They're helping him along. It will be really good for him as the season progresses just to talk him through the goods and bads. But, I think they've done a good job of taking him under their wings.