Q: What do you know about Iowa?
Chizik: They are playing great. They're a very good football team…very physical. I think anytime you beat Syracuse the way they did… They're playing great on defense. I think on offense, the quarterback is doing a great job of managing the offense. They're running and throwing the ball great. The new quarterback situation is…he's doing a good job.
Q: Will you try to make them coach the way Syracuse made them?
Chizik: They do a great job up front. Their offensive line is very physical. The running backs are physical, but in any game you have to stop the run first, but you can't get so carried away with that that they can beat you over the top. The tight end had a phenomenal game. You got to be careful what you do, but I don't think you go into any game without stopping the running game, but you can't overload it so much that they can throw 300-400 yards.
Q: Have you had a chance to look at the tape? I'm sure you're disappointed with the first two games, but are you seeing any areas getting better?
Chizik: Well, you know there are some small victories in there on Saturday. I think our defensive line play…we came off the ball better as a line and we were more physical on both lines. We would have liked to be able to run the ball more, but as the game got where we needed to throw it, we threw it more than we would have liked to. We gave up one sack, but threw the ball 43 times, which I thought was an improvement. There are some areas in our special teams that are really close to being really good as far as our coverage and returns. Two games now we've been close to breaking returns. We've had two guys…RJ Sumrall had a 48-yard kickoff return. Our punt team is covering really well. We missed some tackles Saturday that we have to improve on. There are things within our defense, offensive and special teams that are getting better. We got to put the whole thing together. Obviously, we can't turn the ball over every 4th time and expect to win. There are some small victories that lie in there, but we have to put them all together and not turn the football over. We aren't good enough now to be sloppy and miss field goals and missing extra points…that's sloppy football and we aren't good enough to overcome that.
Chizik: I think Doug has really done well for us. He even got beat up in first game a little bit, but he's a tough guy that said tape it up and let's go. He's been a great addition to our offensive line that came in as a junior college guy. He's done a great job, but it's not just him. I think it's part of Coach Mac's plan on how to protect the quarterback. It's part of the offensive line understanding a little bit more of what we're trying to do to protect our quarterback. Brett understands the urgency of not taking sacks and not throwing the ball away. That's a small victory. We've thrown the ball 60-70 odd times in the last 2 games and at the end of the day, we've given up two sacks.
Q: Do the players believe they can win this game on Saturday?
Chizik: I believe that they do…I hope they do. We had a great meeting yesterday. It's really good to put on film and let your whole football team see the really good things that we're doing because they see it. There can be a lot of negativity that surrounds an 0-2 start. We aren't going to let that filter in. We're going to show them the positives. We're going to show them the things that can be corrected, but you can't let negativity seep into everything. We're keeping it positive to the point that we're showing them things that we're doing that we're shooting ourselves in the foot. Those things are unacceptable as far as trying to win football games. I don't think it's a lack of confidence at all. I think they see we have to improve in some areas and once we put it all together then we're going to have a football team that will be able to challenge people. I think the football team's in a great state of mind right now. Obviously they'd like to be 2-0 instead of 0-2, but we're going to take the positives from the first two games and try to get better.
Q: Coach, there was just one penalty this game. There were six last game. Last game at the end of the game, Rashawn had that big sack and a scoreless fourth quarter for Kent State. This game, "Tuba" got a stop, Taylor got a sack, another scoreless fourth quarter. Talk about your thoughts on the penalty situation and how the defense has performed in the fourth quarter.
Chizik: The thing that stands out to me the most…that's another area that I thought we did better Saturday than we did the week before. It's small victories…it's trying to do better every week. Defensively, right now, we're a little bit hot and cold. I'm going to tell you, we've been put into some bad positions on defense. I think our biggest fourth quarters right now…the thing that's glaring to me right now is fourth quarter regardless of the scoreboard…don't look at the scoreboard…just keep playing. They've done that. Our football team…they aren't going to quit. That's a small victory. In the fourth quarter when we're down by three scores, it didn't look good for our team, but the kids kept fighting. That's an impressive quality that we have to continue to have down the road. Our defense right now…are we as far along as we'd like to be? No. I don't think so, but there have been some victories on our defense too. We've had our backs against the wall and come up with turnovers, with field goal stops instead of touchdowns. We've been put in some bad positions. What we have to do on defense right now is get better at third down stoppage. We had an 18 play drive the other day where we were on third down five or six different times and we didn't close the door on it. That's really a focus right now with Coach Bolt and our defensive staff…what are we going to do on the field with third downs. That's huge.
Q: Could you elaborate…Phillip Bates…has his role progressed? What will his role be in the next few weeks?
Chizik: Well we're going to look at it again and see what he can do to help our offensive. That's the main thing. His role right now is a role that we think athletically he's going to be a tremendous player…he is right now, but we have to be sensitive to what he can learn and be good at. We're going to try to filter him in there and try to let him play.
Q: Not to put everything on one guy because it's a team effort win or lose, but your field goal's kicker 0-3 and all of them are under 50 yards. Do you have somebody…have you talked about making changes…you're comfortable with? Three points can make all the difference in the world.
Chizik: I agree 100%. He is 0-3 and that's very disappointing. It would be different if Brett were a freshman. But this is a guy that's kicked a lot of balls over the years. We're looking at some different options. The whole kicking operation has to improve. We went to kick the other day and another senior fumbled the snap. It's a little bit of an enigma to me…it's a mystery to me. Obviously we're going to give people a chance to improve. If the improvement doesn't take place we're going to look for other viable options if it's out there. It may not be out there. I'll lump that into the same category as every other position. We're looking for improvement at every other position and if week after week after week we don't see it, we have really no other alternatives. We have to go in another direction provided we can find someone that won't hurt our football team any more than they did.
Q: So you don't expect any radical lineup changes going into Saturday?
Chizik: No, not at all.
Q: Did you see any improvement from week one to week two in the passing game?
Chizik: I think we did some things better in the passing game when it came to throwing the ball down field. Obviously, we had two interceptions which one of them came at the end of the game at a scramble when we were trying to make fourth down. You know, the turnovers…four in the game weren't all throwing the football. If you look at the down field passing game, I think that we definitely made some improvements. I think we saw some receivers emerge. They were playing a lot of bump coverage and getting physical with Todd at the line of scrimmage. We had RJ come through with 6-7 catches. You can't always…you have to spread it around some. I think we got the ball to different guys and we threw the ball down field a little more. We threw it 43 times…that's more than we would like to, but there was some ball down field that we caught…especially when we went to 2-minute offense. We drove down the field some. Again, it seemed like we chewed ourselves in the foot when we got down in a position to score. I think there was definitely some improvement in the down field passing game.
Q: Last week we saw what JJ could do running the ball. This week he caught four passes. How versatile do you see him being as a weapon for this team and do you see him returning at any point? Also, what's the status of Wallace Franklin?
Chizik: JJ is very talented and there are a number of things he can do to help our team win. He rushed the ball 15 times Saturday. He caught the ball more Saturday than he did previously. I think he's getting injected slowly into our offense right now in terms of doing a lot of different things. You know, pass protection for a running back is one of the most difficult learning progressions out there for them. There are a few different things he can continue to help our team with. Wallace Franklin played more Saturday than he has. Again, we're trying to work him slowly into the receiving core. I'm not sure how many plays he played Saturday, but I know he played more.
Q: What's the message to the fans who say if you can't beat the teams that you beat the first two weeks, how do you expect to match up against the Big 10 teams and Big 12 teams week in and week out?
Chizik: I'm right now trying to get ready each week and this is our next game. I said at the beginning of the season…we are trying to improve every week and get better at some things. That's our goals as a football team right now. I'm not worried about the Big 12…I'm worried about Iowa. The next week I'll be worried about Toledo and so on and so forth. This is going to be a growing process. I think that's evident. Our goal is to grow every week. Other than that, I don't really pay much attention beyond that.
Q: Are there any limitations with Austen in the game as opposed to Bret?
Chizik: I think anytime you take a new player, you have to be able to narrow some things down and figure out what they can do well. When Austen is in the game, we obviously have things that we think he's better at than other things. To say can he run the entire package as it is…he knows it, but it doesn't mean that right now he would be as good at some things as he is at others. We'll try to narrow it down to what we think he's best at.
Q: How do you compare his abilities to Bret Meyer?
Chizik: They're two different types of guys. Their personalities are different. Austen's big and physical. They both can run and throw. There are similarities, but personality wise they are a little different. Austen is more of a happy-go-lucky type and that's a good thing. Brett's personality isn't a bad thing. They both have a lot of good things going for them, but they're different in personality. Physically a little bit different. It's really all about decision making. That's what it comes down to.
Q: Are we going to see Austen in the Iowa game? How concerned are you about throwing him into a game as big as this?
Chizik: You know, we would like to be able to play Austen some in every game. He's going to eventually end up being the quarterback. If he's ever going to end up being a quarterback at Iowa State you've got to throw him in somewhere, but am I concerned about throwing him into a game like this…absolutely not. Again, our plan as we go is to try to inject him into the offense little by little and get him accustomed to playing in the game.
Q: Coach, you've had a lot of experience with rivalry games. Since this is kind of your induction into that here, what is your opinion of it first of all? Second, how do you talk to your kids about concentrating on the game itself and not the (couldn't hear)
Chizik: I think I can tie both questions into one answer…rivalries are really fun. Rivalries are really fun and that's what makes college football great…the in-state rivalries. This week what we're saying in our approach to the kids is that I want these kids to have fun. They've got to enjoy these types of games. I'm really excited about being a part of another great rivalry…one of the great rivalries of college football. I'm really excited to see the pageantry of it on gameday. But, as you said, we still have to focus on what the job is. So, I want our guys to have fun and enjoy it. I want it to be a game they remember. For me personally, really excited about seeing it and being a part of it. But, for our players, let's have fun, but we still need to focus on what it is we have to do. We can't get so caught up in all of the elements of a big rivalry that we don't continue to get better.
Q: How hard is it to walk that tightrope between wanting the guys to have fun and knowing the margin of error is pretty slim?
Chizik: We talked about that today. Our margin of error is pretty slim for us to be able to be successful, and still make mistakes. I've been at places before where you could make some errors and somebody would make up for it or something and no one ever noticed the problem. There is a fine line there. But, still at the end of the day, the guys have to have fun with a rivalry like this. Football practice isn't fun. If it's 100 degrees out and you have to go out there and practice for 2 hours, who in here would have fun with that? That's not fun, but you practice so you can have fun on game day and enjoy game day. We're going to go out and practice and focus on the things that we need to do. We're going to try to have as much as fun as you can in football practice, but again understanding the importance of getting the job done and getting better in practice every week to get better on game day.
Q: I know you said that you really want that focus on having fun. Since you're 0-2, do you think they're still having fun?
Chizik: You'd have to ask them. No one likes losing, but the thing about it is…Saturday night is not fun when you lose, but it's the same thing that I keep saying…this is a new Saturday night. So, you've got to have fun while you're playing. You have to have fun while you're in the middle of it. That's part of the deal, but you also have to have a short memory. I would be saying the same thing if we were 2-0, yeah, we had fun, but this is another week. For two Saturday nights, no one has had fun at the end of the night, but again, you push it aside and move on to next week and be happy that you had a chance to play again.
Q: Is Caleb Berg going to play this week?
Chizik: That's going to be a game time deal with him. We're still trying to get him healthy. We're leaving that up to our training staff. He's making progress, but I don't know if he'll be ready or not.
Q: What are you working on in practice?
Chizik: Just being more refined in what we're trying to do. We had a blitz on Saturday and we had the perfect coverage on it. We had the perfect call between the corner and safety. We dumped it off and we tackled him, but we tackled him a yard past the first down marker. We have to understanding distance and where we have to get stopped. I guess the element of perfection on third down has to be…we have to elevate our execution on third down. The calls are fine. We're either missing the tackles or not tackling them soon enough. We just have to do a better job of coaching.
Q: Parallels between this season's game and the 0-5 game when Iowa came in highly ranked and everyone expected an Iowa victory and Iowa State ended up dominating that game. Are you going to show the players that tape? Some of the players on that team are on this team.
Chizik: We'll certainly bring up the history of the rivalry for many years back. That was a different team and we have to concentrate on us and getting better at what we do. We are on a quest for making us better and until we get ourselves better, the opponent doesn't matter. Anybody that we play from here on out is going to be really good, so I can show them films from 8 years ago. It's not going to matter. We need to get better at what we do and we'll bring up the history of the rivalry and past games because that does matter. They need to know that there is so much passion and emotion in games like this that anything can happen. I think that's the point, but when it comes down to Xs and Os right now, we've got to get better at what we do.
Q: Who will take the position of captain going into this game?
Chizik: We haven't decided yet.