Gene Chizik Press Conference Transcript

From the win over Iowa to this week's game against Toledo, Gene Chizik addresses all the issues surrounding Iowa State football.

Q:  Talk about differences you face with the team when you're on the road.  Are you a guy that locks down in the hotel?  What is the routine for you?


Chizik:  I don't know if we'll go by the stadium every week.  We'll probably mix it up.  Sometimes we'll go over there and sometimes we won't.  You try to treat an away game as close to a home game as you can.  Sometimes things don't always work out that way, but you try to. 


Q:  What is your history with Toledo?  Is this a new place for you?


Chizik:  I've played Toledo one time.  It's an awesome place to play.  Really neat place with a lot of tradition.


Q:  What were the specific areas that you saw the most improvement?


Chizik:  I think a glaring one is turnovers.  Obviously we had one too many.  I think that was a good look at the devastation of turnovers because when you turn the ball over what happens to the momentum of the game.  Put four of those together and you can see why we hadn't won.  I think that was the overwhelming glaring difference.  I think the other thing was we are trying to play more physical as the year goes on.  The first two…it wasn't that we weren't playing physical, but I don't think we were playing as physical as we should.  On Saturday, we were the more physical team on defense than in the first two.  Iowa's got a real strong offensive front and I was real proud of our guys. 


Q:  Toledo likes to throw the ball.  Talk about the emphasis and pass defense.


Chizik: They throw the ball well.  To me it's not about Toledo.  To me it's not about the opponent.  They're all good.  It's always about us.  If we continue to improve in pass offensive and pass rush and how to blitz, the tempo, the aggressiveness…those things are on us.  I can say that every week.  Everyone is going to have a good quarterback.  Everyone's going to have someone good that can catch the ball.  It's about us.  How good are we getting at those things?  Saturday…if you look at third down conversions…that was a difference in this game.  There was more emphasis to get there. 


Q:  Did you sense something different about this game than the previous two weeks?

Chizik:  I really didn't.  I say that because I think our football team…one thing I will brag on them about is if you're going to show a difference in your personality and have even remotely an attitude of shutting it down, they could've after the first two weeks.  There were small victories, but there were no results on the scoreboard. 


Q:  In looking at a lot of championship caliber performers…in looking at game by game in the first two weeks, turnovers were the key, but it's hard to convince people when the results…how did you keep the team focused that things were being done the right way, but you had to have some different outcomes like not turning the ball over?


Chizik:  When we have meetings, we always show them why they win and why they lose.  A picture is worth a thousand words.  If a guy is off by eight inches, we show the whole team.  We have our team meetings and we showed them Saturday why we won the game.  We showed them the line of scrimmage, third down conversions, third down stops.  That's to me how you keep in focus.  If you're telling them we're close and this is what we have to improve on, look do you see it.  Yes, I see it.  They can work on it and get better.  That's what our coaches did all week and what our players did all week.  This is what we'll continue to do because we're not even close.  We've got a long way to go to what I consider to be a really good football team.  We're not even close.  We've just to continue to go out there every day to improve.


Q:  You've talked very highly of Phillip Bates before and then he goes out Saturday and he makes that big catch.  Are we going to be seeing more of him this season?


Chizik:  We'd like to be able to work Phillip more and more into our offense as we go. He's a young guy and this is all very new to him.  He's a playmaker.  He's one of the few guys that we aren't going to red shirt and I think Saturday, you can gather why.  We'd like to work him in more because I think he has a great future.

Q:  Do you see him at quarterback, at receiver…?


Chizik:  I see him being able to do a lot of different things for our team.  That could be a quarterback, a wide out, even a kick returner.  We just want to get him on the field, but we don't want to overload him with too much stuff where he's in a position where he's thinking too much and not being an athlete.  He's a tremendous athlete. 


Q:  You talk about thinking too much…Saturday you used four receiver sets, five receiver sets.  How much of that is strategic versus your guys acclimating to the system where they can do stuff like that?


Chizik:  I think Coach McFarland is slowly…we've put all this in…none of this is new.  Coach McFarland on offense has built a library.  We look at a defense and think what in our library can we use this week.  Some of it is a new look and we've seen them against opponents and we pull out what we can use.


Q:  Is this team now…have some hunger now thinking they like this and want to continue with this?

Chizik:  I hope so.  I haven't coached the team after we've won one once so it'll be a new experience this week.  I hope they understand that we haven't arrived.  I hope they understand after watching the team yesterday that there is so much improvement that we have to do. 


Q:  What wins on the road?

Chizik:  Focus wins on the road.  You can let distractions be a really good excuse…the fans, the plane trip, you can find a million excuses.  No matter where you play.  There's no secret to winning on the road in my opinion. 


Q:  On Saturday, you had Todd Blythe….(couldn't hear)  How is that different than what we've seen in the past from him (couldn't hear)?


Chizik:  It's kind of what I said last week when Todd didn't catch any passes.  You've got to take what they're allowing you to have.  You can't be hard headed and stubborn and try to say I'm going to fit it in between two people.  One of the things that we thought would be effective for us is to bring Todd in on some things and see how many yards he can get, but at the same time there were some times that we threw the ball to him to see if he could come down with it too.  And again, if you look at the week before, Marquis Hamilton caught eight balls…we threw one pass at him.  It's about being unselfish and understanding what your role is that week.  Todd might come back last week and not get one ball…that's called team football.  We try to do what we think we can do to give our receivers a chance to catch the ball and to protect the quarterback.  Coach McFarland is going to do what he thinks gives our kids the best shot.


Q:  Is there an effort to get the better athletes the ball?

Chizik:  Absolutely, you try to find ways.  You always take your top receiver and try to find ways to throw them the ball.  But, there's a fine line between that and being stubborn about it when they're taking it away and you can go to someone else.  That's why it's called a team.  Again, Marquis Hamilton…I bring him up again because I think he's a warrior Saturday.  The guy got knocked out of the game, taken to the hospital, and came back and was on the sideline during the fourth quarter.  He got one ball thrown to him all day.  He blocked his rear end off all day long.  It's about being unselfish. 


Q:  A couple of the things you had stressed: team speed, team being exceptionally conditioned…talk about where you think the team is in those two areas.  Also, you talked about cultivating depth and it seems that it may be coming around. Can you talk about where the team is in terms of depth and where you hoped they would be at this point?


Chizik:  Well, with the conditioning part of it, as you asked, I thought Saturday that it was pretty well off.  Two weeks ago they were wanting to know if we were in good enough shape.  This Saturday we were all of a sudden in great shape.  I think Coach Shepherd has done a great job and we'll continue to get stronger as the years go on. I was very happy with the condition that our players were in Saturday.  The depth of our football team, what was pleasing for me to see was a guy like Chris Brown.  As you guys already know, Caleb Berg has not played yet.  He's been out.  So, our backup has been in.  When our backup goes out, now we're going to a third team safety that had to move from corner to that position.  He comes in and makes great plays and helps us win football games.  That's really nice to see.  Everyone has a role that they have to fulfill.  Are we great at depth right now?  No, I don't think we are, but when guys go down or when situations arise where guys have to come in and deliver, you hope they come in like Chris Brown.  You just hope that we continue to grow in that area.


Q:  Speed?


Chizik:  Same thing with speed.  You got to look down the road to get more speed out there on the field.  Speed is the great equalizer and we have to work in that direction.


Q:  Everyone has to be riding pretty high on confidence right now.  How do you try to keep them to a certain level just kind of grounded on this week's game instead of last week's?


Chizik:  I think this…I think it's the same way that we had to keep them grounded after we lost two.  I say that because there are so many highs and lows during the season and so many highs and lows during the game.  I just don't ever think you can change the way you do it.  We didn't change the way we approached anything.  We weren't any different Sunday as compared to the previous Sunday as coaches.  You're always the same.  You've got to be level headed and stay on your plan.  You have to have a short memory.  This game is way over.  For our football team to talk about it…we're done talking about it.  Everybody else can talk about it, but we're done talking about it.  We have a short memory.  We're just keeping on pace to continue getting better and stay focused…even though we stayed focused after the last two weeks, but didn't play well.  I don't see that as being an issue this week.  I'm sure if we go to Toledo and we don't play well everyone will say that it's a hangover from last week, but I don't agree with that.  If we go to Toledo right now and we don't play well, it's because we didn't execute (tape goes out)


Q:  How about the difference in attitude as you walk around campus?


Chizik:  I don't know.  Our student body is off the chart…let me tell you.  When you come out on the field, I love it.  I hope they're fired up.  I hope they keep cheering about it for the whole year.  I hope all the fans across the state are fired up, but we have to move on.


Q:  What's Marquis' status for this week?


Chizik:  He's fine.  He's fine.


Q:  Will you keep wearing those uniforms?


Chizik:  That's way out of my department.  To me, I met Coach Bruce on Friday and it was a great tribute. 


Q:  (couldn't hear)


Chizik:  I think they were huge.  That's a field position advantage that's unbelievable.  I think Brett did a great job.  We'll evaluate it week by week.


Q:  Is there a reason for the change or is it just something that you guys decided to try?


Chizik:  We're just going to do what we think is best.


Q:  What are your impressions of the Iowa/Iowa State rivalry now that you've played in it?


Chizik:  Phenomenal.  What an awesome game!  To me…there's so much passion.  I think it's right up there with some of the best ones I've been around.  I felt really lucky to be a part of it.  It's great for the state. 

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