Balanced Mizzou Next Up

Iowa State coach Dan McCarney spoke with the conference media Monday morning via teleconference two days after his Cyclones grabbed a 10-7 halftime lead in Austin, Texas, only to be blanked in the second half in losing 21-10 to the Longhorns. Here are some of the highlights of McCarney's teleconference.

Opening comments:

"We played an outstanding football team in Mack Brown's Texas Longhorns. As always they're an outstanding football team that's well coached and has a lot of talent and confidence. I was proud of the effort of our football team. They played real hard and to win. We had some opportunities in the game and had a halftime lead, but we just weren't as good as Texas in the second half. They made plays and we didn't."

"We came out of the game healthy. We've had two tough road trips against Oklahoma and Texas, and fortunately we came out of those games with just the normal bumps and bruises. We didn't lose any starters and that can happen when you get beat in games like that."

"We're really looking forward to the Missouri game. They're a much-improved football team from a year ago. They play hard-nosed, physical and take care of the football. They're 12th in the country from a turnover ratio standpoint. We just don't see any weaknesses. They're well coached and played the heck out of Oklahoma and it was a seven-point game. They went into Lincoln and played the heck out of the Cornhuskers and had a great victory over Kansas this past week. It's going to be a real challenge, but it's good to be back home at least for a week this Saturday."

On Mizzou's improvement over 2001 season:

"We think all phases of their football team have improved over last year. They're well coached, playing hard, are aggressive on defense and have forced some turnovers. From this time last year, they're playing much better as a football team. We had to go to a goal-line stand to win the football game down at Columbia, so we know how hard this game is going to be and how tough and what a challenge it is."

"Their special teams are improved and they've got more playmakers their in the return game. Offensively, they present all kinds of challenges. (Zach) Abrom is an excellent back. They don't turn the ball over and their ball security is fantastic. Their group of wide receivers is outstanding. Their isn't a better one around than Justin Gage. They made a great move with Darius Outlaw to wide receiver and he's doing an excellent job. They're very dangerous and can get you with a power attack and throw the football, too. We're going to really have our hands full."

On Tiger quarterback Brad Smith:

"He can get you either way, has great talent, plays with a lot more confidence and maturity than most freshmen or sophomores. I haven't seen a better freshman quarterback around in college football. And he's doing it every week and is very consistent. Those kids in the offense all believe in him."

On what has led to lack of production in red zone:

"It's a combination of a lot of things. It starts first of all with the defenses that we're facing. In Oklahoma and Texas, you're going to have trouble finding better defenses anywhere in the country. The talent, toughness, confidence, pursuit and effort of those players, those two are about as good as I'll coach against in college football."

"We have run a lot of different things. Anybody that breaks us down sees that we've done a lot of different things. We're power at you, trying option and trying to throw the football. But in these last two games against Oklahoma and Texas, we've been very ineffective. It's first-and-goal inside the five-yard line and we not only come away without a touchdown but without any points on the board by missing a field goal. It's very disappointing and something we've spent a lot of times on the past two weeks and even more time on it right now trying to improve it and address it."

"We block a punt on Saturday and come out of that with nothing with a missed field goal. Those things are hard to overcome and still win a game. There is not a lot of margin for error when you're facing a great team like Oklahoma or Texas. We competed a lot better this week, but still those things really made a difference along with a guy named (Cedric) Benson."

On possible changes at tailback position:

"We're going to evaluate in practice this week and are not pleased with our rush game. It's not been good. Part of that is two fabulous defenses we've seen the past two weeks and part of that is we haven't been as effective as we need to be. We're not making a lot of plays and haven't had a lot of juice at the running back position the past two weeks.

"We're going to do all we can to improve that. It will be an ongoing evaluation as the week goes on. We're going to evaluate these guys and find out who does the best job and try to get something going with the run game. (Thompson) sure will figure in. We'll take a look at all three of those guys. They're going to get a lot of looks. There's no question we've got to upgrade that in the remaining weeks."

on possibility of winning Big 12 North:

"We're not talking about winning anything other than trying to win this Missouri game right now. You can lose some confidence coming out of the past two weeks, on the road and losing real tough football games. We're not talking about anything right now with our football team except for Missouri. What an unbelievable challenge it's going to be for us."

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