Football Quotebook: Oklahoma

Dan McCarney:

Opening comments:

"Our season of opportunity continues again this week. Things are going real good. We came out of the game the other night in real good shape from a physical standpoint. That's always real gratifying to know you played a hard Big 12 game, won the game and came out of it pretty healthy overall. Everybody should be available for the game this week."

"The special teams captain will be Adam Benike, who has really been very consistent for us. He's hit 44 out of his 47 kicks this year and is just quietly going about his business. He's having a lot to do with the success of our football team. I'm really proud of him."

"It's amazing we're going into the eighth game of the year and this is the first time we're going to jump on a plane. How unusual is that? We've had a couple of away games, but were bussing to Kansas City and Iowa City."

"Oklahoma is just truly an outstanding football team. Bobby Stoops is 30-2 over his past 32 football games. Seventeen starters return off of that 11-win season last year. When you lose guys like Calmus and Williams, and they feel like their defense is going to be even better, that says something about their program and the ability to recruit the type of team they have. It's going to be an unbelievable challenge for us."

"The history is not very good to Iowa State when they play Oklahoma, but fortunately we're not playing history. We tried to blaze new trails and change history and everything around here at Iowa State. We've had some success doing that."

on Oklahoma's defense:

"There is tremendous talent, they've got a great scheme and play with as much relentless effort as anybody you'll see in college football. They don't take a play off. I don't see one player ever taking a play off. You watch Oklahoma's defense and they go absolutely non-stop and relentless and are tough. They win a lot of games because of the toughness they have in that program. There is talent, great coaches and great tradition, but they're one of the toughest teams in college football."

on what it will take for ISU to win in Norman:

"You've got to go down there first of all and get off the bus believing that you can win a game. A lot of teams are already beat in games like this against teams like Oklahoma before the game even starts. I think that's pretty obvious. So the players and coaches in this program have to believe we can win this game."

"This isn't the first big game we've been in this year. Florida State, Iowa, Nebraska and Texas Tech were pretty big. We've had some big games already and this is another big one in the long line of this marathon season that we're playing and coaching in."

"We've got to be able to control the football. It's going to be real hard to run the football, but we've got to do that and be able to score some points. Their defense is so outstanding, but we can't expect to go into this thing and win a 7-6 low-scoring game. We've got to put some points on the board."

"Turnover margin, we're both two in the top 11 of the country. We both have 19 takeaways, which means we're doing a good job of getting turnovers. We're also doing a good job of hanging onto it and that has to continue. Then Oklahoma's special teams is as good as there is in the Big 12, year in and year out."

"Defensively, we have got to control Quentin Griffin. He's as hot as any running back in the country and had 250 yards against that Texas defense is amazing. They're almost all back, too. This is the same team that basically played last year, offensively. They're all experienced and are playmakers. (Nate) Hybl is an outstanding quarterback. He'd like to have a couple throws back from the Texas game, but he's playing with a lot of confidence."

on what coaches can take from OU's effort against Texas:

"They do a great job from a pressure standpoint, got some pressure on Simms and caused some problems. I have not seen a better defensive lineman in college football than Tommy Harris. When you're All-Big 12 as a true freshman, that says something. You're a phenom and in an absolute league by yourself. You can't sit there and one-on-one block him all day, because he'll embarrass us. He's that great a player."

"Their defense against the throwing game starts with the pressure up front. They do a great job of that. Their linebackers run like defensive backs, much like Florida State. We've got to be able to protect. We can't have Seneca running for his life, either in the pocket or when he's on the edge out there and trying to put on another highlight show. It's not going to work. That's one of the things that's most important."

his thoughts on remaining at Iowa State:

"I don't think about it much this time of year. I don't address it and don't go to bed at night talking to my wife about it. I don't talk to Bruce Van De Velde about it. I love this place. When you put as much and invest as much as I have into this program."

"It's amazing when we came across the street the other day and almost can't even get to the building now, there are so many people out there. It reminded me coming off of a game years ago when we were so bad. We were out at Wyoming and got plastered and humiliated out there. I start coming off the field afterwards and this guy got right in my face and screamed. He was spitting in my face when he was screaming and said, ‘Don't you know anything?' The old Yogi Berra thing popped into my head and I said, ‘Sir, to be honest with you, I don't even suspect anything.' Instead of going after him, which I felt like at that stage, the guy was right."

"We have come a long ways. The people have been very loyal to me here. I could definitely see myself being at Iowa State for a long time. I want everything right for my staff and this program. I want to make sure there is a commitment so that we know we can maintain this excellence for years to come."

"There are a lot of personal reasons why I want to stay at Iowa State, with my children four and a half hours away, parents two hours away and life-long fans in the state of Iowa. But I do have a family to take care of. I'm not out hunting or looking. I will never ever worry about the next job. I have always tried to do the best job I could with the one I have. I trust the administration is going to take care of everybody here and that's from top to bottom, head coach down to the graduate assistants."

on what faces his team down the road:

"It's a great scenario and opportunity. I think this is why we all came here. Maybe some of them didn't believe we could be here someday, but I think most of them did. We have this unbelievable opportunity right now. Let's try to stay in the hunt for everything. We're going into our eighth game of the season and have really been at it for 41-42 weeks since last January. It's now down to five and a half weeks and six games. Let's try to stay in the hunt for everything. It's always fun to go places a school or a program has never been before. We're going to continue to try and do that."

on crucial juncture of this fall where ISU might have turned corner:

"At some time in a season, hopefully it's real early in a season, you've got to decide who you are, what you want to be and how far you want to go. To me that was the second half of the Florida State game. The season could have gone one of two different ways. I know this is the first game of the year against a tremendous opponent. But this team decided where it wanted to go with this season and has never looked back."

"This is a tremendous opportunity, but I really think these kids will go down there, get off the bus in an unbelievable environment believing they can win this game."

on mindset of team prior to 1998 tilt in Oklahoma:

"There were probably some kids that thought we could win and some that hoped we could win. Now this team will go down there believing we can win. It may seem crazy going down there with a team that's 30-2 over the last 32 games and ranked number two in the country, but all I can base that on is what I see every day being around this team. And we have already been against some tremendous teams."

on feeling in team's locker room afterwards:

"It was one of them. There was just so much frustration, because here's this team that at the time was not ranked in the top 10 in the country but everybody knows Oklahoma. We had our chances. We dropped an interception that hits us in the chest. We could have won the game and iced it. Those are the kind of the games you're trying to win to turn programs around. It was real frustrating and there was a lot of emotion and tears. We went through a number of those, but that was one of them."

on how he handles all of outside attention when speaking with team:

"I don't let anybody around here get too carried away with themselves, but I want them to be proud of how far we've come and the attention that this program is getting. It goes back to the simple thing I always tell them. ‘Why not Iowa State?' Let's cherish this, embrace it and know this is a great opportunity and everybody doesn't have to forget about Iowa State for the rest of the season. Keep winning and keep the national attention. Why not be one of the real stories in college football this year?"

on cornerback Ellis Hobbs' emergence:

"As you watch him play, he's one of the most exciting players on our football team to watch play the game. He's got really good talent, great skills, great feet and can hit in the open field. He has a great passion for the game and is one of the best competitors on this football team. He has to be that way at practice to stay number one, because he's got Harold Clewis he's trying to hold off. You saw Harold come in and make some great plays in the game last week. So he's really got to bring his A game to practice just to stay number one."

"Ellis is also one of the best special teams players in the Big 12 Conference and obviously one of our best. He never seems to get tired. His endurance is phenomenal. Whatever we ask him, he doesn't seem to get tired. He's a tremendous athlete and one of the classiest kids. He's got a very strong spiritual life and a great family. There is great character in the family."

on areas in particular Hobbs has improved in:

"Ellis learns from mistakes and has made some of those. He's very aggressive by nature. But he believes in himself and has that big-play ability. And he's still just a second-year player in college football. With his maturity and the plays he made last year as a backup and special teams guy, you just knew he was going to be a really fine player."

on offensive line's transition under Marty Fine:

"I'm really proud of Marty Fine, the offensive line coach. You lose three starters, but losing Luke is four and we lost the offensive line coach that's been coaching those guys and developing them. They were coached and taught well by Steve Loney. The only one that was not here was Collin Menard, of those starters. The rest of those kids were taught and coached by Steve and Marty has stepped in and we haven't missed a beat. He's a great teacher and coach. I spent a lot of time before I made that hire, because I know it's one of the most important hires on any coaching staff."

"Marty has done a great job. The kids believe in him, trust him, respect him and know he knows what he's talking about. In a very short time he's built a great relationship with those offensive linemen. That being said, those kids have made major improvements since last spring. They're having a lot of fun playing the game and play well as a unit and those starters are playing real good football."

on changing situation at tailback this fall:

"It was a unique situation those first seven years of always having basically just one guy. That doesn't happen very often, because backs don't stay that healthy and you're not that fortunate or consistent. When you're a part of history like we were with Troy (Davis), then there are huge shoes to fill but high expectations. Those kids don't want to let it stop, drop or discontinue."

"The bottom line right now is we're winning games. Those kids all know that and have a role. They've all got to be ready to play. You never know who the starter might be. It will be Mike Wagner this week, but those other guys have got to be ready. If we can keep being productive, improving our rush offense, score points and win games, then they all have the same attitude and can care less. They all want to play, but they understand and are willing to do what it takes. We're sitting there ninth in the country and are making good decisions."

on Wagner's overall play recently:

"I think he's improved as a player and has been more consistent, more physical with his runs and is making people miss. His blocking has been excellent, way beyond the one that you saw re-run a few thousand times on Seneca's run."

"He is really improving as a player, but he has to because all of those guys want to play. Brian Thompson is still one of the better running backs we have with the ball under his arm. Those other two guys are going to try and hold him off so that he stays number three. Then look out for the competition in spring football when (Stevie) Hicks takes the redshirt off. That's going to be as good a competition as we've had since we've been here. He is the real deal."

on defense's need to containing OU rushing game:

"The teams that have a chance to play with Oklahoma have to slow down the running game, especially coming off of their game with Texas and Griffin rushing for almost 250 yards. They're going to feel good about it. We gave up some runs the other day, more than we would like to. It was basically 164 yards rushing and then you put the fake punt in there. That's too much. To have a chance you've got to slow this running game down."

on Sooner tailback Quentin Griffin:

"He's durable, quick and explosive. I don't know what his 40 time is, but his game speed is really fast. He's making more guys miss him than anybody in this league that I've seen so far. Texas had some people in great position to tackle him and he's making a lot of them miss. We're going to have to really be a great tackling defense."

on where Oklahoma defense stacks up with others ISU has faced this season:

"They're one of the best in college football. Fortunately for us we've already seen some darn good ones. We've seen some excellent defenses already in Florida State, Iowa and Nebraska. Those are the three best we've seen so far this year, but Oklahoma is the best defense so far we'll play against."

on Sooners' rushing and passing games:

"I'd say Oklahoma and Iowa (are probably the most balanced). Iowa has a great running game, are throwing the heck out of the ball and has an athletic quarterback that can get you in the pocket and out. Oklahoma is very athletic. Their offensive line and Florida State's are probably the most athletic. They can really run and finish blocks with the best of them. Iowa's is one of the physical in college football."

on what beating OU could mean to program:

"It would be another tremendous landmark, an unbelievable achievement and would continue doing things that haven't been done around here in a long, long time. It hasn't been done very often as you look at the record. We know that we've got six tremendous challenges ahead. Oklahoma is the next one in a long line of many challenges this year. I'm anxious to go out and play this game. We've got a lot of work to do between now and Saturday. It's going to be a great environment, but this is why were here."

on any changes in Oklahoma's offense since Chuck Long took over controls:

"They've not varied a whole lot from what part of their offense has been and what their scheme has been and what they try and do. They've got another new offensive line coach that came in from Northwestern. He's a very successful coach and has a great reputation around the country."

"There are a few new things, but not a lot. There hasn't been a complete overhaul. When you've won like they have and been as effective as they have, you're not going to change it a bunch."

Jordan Carstens on last weekend's injury:

"I was in pain for a while, but got to the sidelines and under the care of Mark Coberley and some of the trainers. They got me into playing shape. I was a little sore, but played through it. I just landed wrong on my hip, that's about all I can say." Carstens on gradual improvement of defense this fall: "One of the important things we have now that we didn't back then was game experience for some of the young guys. Some guys had some question marks coming in just because they didn't have much experience at the positions they were going to play. After seven games, those guys have a lot more experience and are going to be ready to play a big-time game like this."

Zach Butler on Sooner defense:

"If you look preseason at all of the publications, the best front sevens in the nation were Florida State, Oklahoma and Miami. Those three were at the top in every publication. Oklahoma is definitely a great unit. It will be a big challenge for our offense. We're going to have to practice very hard this week.

"But we're ready for it. We faced a Florida State team that is pretty similar in the way they play with very good athletes. We're going to try and do our best, but I think we're capable of doing some good things."

Butler on lack of attention given to ISU's defense:

"I've been so impressed (with our defense) and the things they've done this year. Everyone always overlooks them, but since I've been here this is the best defense we've put on the field and the fastest defense we've put on the field. We've gotten some big turnovers at key times and shut downs on third down."

"As a whole our defense is playing excellent and is keeping us in all ball games. If we can score 30 points a game and our defense holds opponents under 15, we're going to win a lot of ball games."

"It started last season. Our defense started coming on strong about the last three games and showed up big time in the Alabama game. That carried over. It's Coach Mac taking time to get his type of players in here and we have finally gotten that. And John Skladany has done his type of defense that we run."

"It takes a while to gel as a group. I just know about the offensive line and how long it's taken us to get going and gel as a group. That defense has had a couple years together and is putting together some impressive games."

Lane Danielsen on playmakers on Sooner defense:

"They're intense, athletic and fly to the ball. You never a see a play where at the end of the play they're not all around the ball. They fly to the ball and pursue great. They work good together and have great athletes. We're going to have to go out and try to make some plays on them."

"From what I've seen on film, I think their defense is as good as it gets in the nation. Their front seven is right there with Florida State and Miami."

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