Football Quotebook: Missouri

At Tuesday's weekly football press conference in Ames, Coach Dan McCarney and his Iowa State Cyclones were eager to play again at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday after two consecutive road games against top-10 teams.

Dan McCarney:

Opening comments:

"We're disappointed with last Saturday, but we're not a bit discouraged. We've lost to three times that at the time we played them were ranked number two, three and seven in America. We knew before the season started it was going to be an unbelievably challenging schedule and we're right in the midst of that. Friday the calendar turns to November and for the third year in a row we're playing for an awful lot beyond just trying to get some respect, trying to improve the program or hang onto your job."

"I feel a lot like I did after the Florida State game. We got tremendous effort out of our players and came up short. We have to learn from the loss, learn from our mistakes, but know that we have a good football team. When you come out of the Oklahoma game, it's hard to sell that to your team when you play that poorly, but it's easy to sell it to our team right now. We're measured on a season and are anxious to play this football game."

"The health is real good overall. A couple of guys might miss practice today, but will definitely practice tomorrow. Everybody will be available on Saturday. We're in our 13th week of the season and that's a long season. Amazingly we've had very few major injuries."

"The special teams captain this week will be Lance Young. He's done an excellent job for us all year at wide receiver and as a return guy."

"Missouri is much improved over last year. They had a seven-point loss to Oklahoma and we all know the results of when we played Oklahoma. They went in and played Nebraska real tough in Lincoln. It was an 11-point loss, but they played them extremely physical."

"They have playmakers all over their offense. I'm very impressed with Brad Smith as everybody is in America. There is not a better freshman quarterback in the country. He's very talented and averages almost 300 yards a game in total offense. Missouri is very balanced and has over 400 yards with over 200 rushing and 200 passing. You can't go in there and load up against the run or blitz the quarterback, because they're very effective and balanced."

"Defensively, many of the same guys that played against us last year return from a team that took us to the last play of the game and last series of the game. We know this is going to be an extremely tough football game."

On Jeremy Loyd's play this season:

"He's having an outstanding senior year. If he can just finish strong, he has had up to this point an All-Big 12 season. I don't say that very often about anybody, but he has. He's played that way every week and has been consistent and an excellent tackler. He's explosive, reliable and is wrapping up."

"Jeremy is playing outstanding football and he did that when we got beat 49-3 and he did that against Nebraska, Iowa and Texas. I'm really proud of him. This is a real small senior class, but he's one of those guys that is really leading this team by example every day."

On the recruitment of Loyd to Iowa State:

"As short as the line was to recruit Seneca (Wallace), it was even shorter with Jeremy Loyd. There just weren't many teams out there. I was absolutely shocked that there weren't more teams. We kept looking at the tape thinking that there's got to be something wrong. Is there a problem? What don't we know about? Why aren't more teams recruiting this kid."

"We saw it on tape—he's athletic, tough and stays on his feet and plays hard. He's an example of a great steal and one of the reasons why we need to keep going back to Texas because there wasn't anybody from Texas recruiting the kid."

On addressing potential for Big 12 North title:

"Our focus right now is Missouri. If we can take care of business and win this game, we'll get our third winning season in a row and be bowl eligible for the first time in the history of this school three years in a row. There are lots of things you play for, but that's not something right now we're talking a lot about. We have so much respect for Missouri and know how tough this game is going to be. That's our focus right now."

"But I do share with them the opportunities that are out there. We know there are eight bowl tie-ins in the Big 12, but we can be making excuses all winter if we don't start winning some games here at the end of the season. How do we want to be remembered in November? That's what it's all about."

On similarities between ISU and Mizzou:

"They're playing with great effort, are tough and well coached. Both of these teams are in the top-15 from a turnover-ratio standpoint. They don't beat themselves. We're the least penalized team in the Big 12 and fourth from a turnover-ratio standpoint. Missouri has a few more penalties, but they're ahead of us from a turnover-ratio standpoint. It's going to be a major challenge."

On Tigers' improvement at quarterback position over past couple years:

"They weren't bad before. Kirk Farmer is a pretty good player. Wouldn't you like to bring a guy off the bench that's started as many games as he has? We always had a lot of respect for Kirk. But Smith has some of those God-given talents. You listen to Gary and read about it, Brad's maturity level for an 18-year old is amazing. To go in and play against Oklahoma the way he did and to do the things he did against Nebraska is amazing."

"That's a redshirt freshman doing that. Here he is in the top-10 in the country in total offense. He is really special. If you go in there out of control and not tackling with a good base, you'll not only miss him but he'll make you look silly. He's got a good arm and is making some NFL throws. We're going to have to be at our best and improve again this Saturday."

Comparison of Smith and Seneca Wallace:

"They both can run, throw and have real good athleticism. They're tough guys. That's one thing that always gets overlooked at the quarterback position. Seneca is one of the toughest kids on our football team and there's no doubt Smith is for their football team. Smith carries the ball a lot and gets hit a lot. He's one of the most physical quarterbacks around. I think there are a lot of similarities."

On style of quarterbacks changing in college football:

"It's not like we've all been defensing a bunch of stiffs at quarterback through the years. There have been some pretty good athletes out there. But it just seems like in recent years, really in the last three to five years there have been some guys that have really stepped it up and been really effective running the ball and throwing. That's what we're all looking for now."

"You see all of the examples around the country in recent years, see the guy that we've got and some other quarterbacks that can do it both ways. When we start looking at high school tape or junior college tape, we're always looking for those guys. We love looking for those guys that are mobile and can get outside and run and throw."

On Chris Whitaker being captain and not starting:

"He's handled it with class, dignity and is one of the most unselfish team guys I've ever been around. He played more snaps than (Matt) Word did last week and that's very likely again this week. He played real good against Texas. Between he and Mo Word we've got to continue to play real good effective football there."

"But it's been hard to be him. It's hard to imagine what it's been like that you're a captain and not playing as much as you want to. He has really improved. We sat down and talked last week and I expect a little bit more out of him in practice and on game day. He responded to it all last Saturday."

on Whitaker possibly starting against Mizzou:

"There is nothing in cement. We're in our seventh week of being ranked in the top 25 in the country and every guy better come prepared to practice. We'll evaluate those two guys and make a decision. Mo missed a number of tackles in that game on Saturday and is a very prideful guy. He wants to play and be on the field, but so does Chris Whitaker. You're only as good as your last game and performance."

On team rebounding from Longhorn loss compared to setback at Oklahoma:

"I didn't sense a lack of confidence at Texas. When you stand on the sidelines and watch them as long as I have, that's as good of personnel as we'll coach against this year. Period, end of story, wherever we go. They're well coached and are tough. That's why they're seventh in the country. But I don't sense any loss of confidence whatsoever. Coming out of the Oklahoma game, you get pummeled like that, everybody could lose some confidence. But we didn't lose any confidence in that game at Texas. This is a good football team and everybody in the meeting room on Monday knows that."

On returning home to Jack Trice Stadium:

"We've had five games at home with a 42-10 average margin of victory. We've played great football. That's what you want to establish and we had a hard time doing that the first few years here in rebuilding this program. We've got a great home field advantage right now and our fans have an awful lot to do with that. We want to continue that."

On Jordan Carstens missing little time with injuries of past few weeks:

"It's ‘I'm not coming out of the game, I'm not staying out of the game, if I do have to come out I'm going back in.' He has as much pride and toughness as anybody I've been around."

"When you start talking about some of the tough defensive linemen that I've been around and coached through the years, two of them that come to mind are Mark Bortz and John Hardy. Jordan Carstens is just like those guys, just like the old school. He does not want to let this team down. If he misses a snap, he feels like he's letting the team down. That's why you don't see him out of there very much."

On Brian Thompson possibly starting this Saturday:

"I don't know that we'd start him. You've got to be careful about that with a freshman that hasn't started all year long. He will definitely play and play in the first half on Saturday. He's made a lot of progress. His mental errors have been few in practice. He'll be in the game in the first half on Saturday, I can promise that, whether it's two snaps or 20. My gut feeling on Tuesday would be to start Mike Wagner, get BT ready and have Hiawatha Rutland ready to go, too."

"Coming out of the game the other day, Hiawatha was still not 100 percent and he didn't look like it. We expect more out of him and he's got to play better. He's a great team guy and tough guy, but there's a real good chance you're going to see Brian second in the game on Saturday. Then Hiawatha will be ready to go. BT needs to play. He has some special running abilities. We've got to get things going in our running game."

On areas Thompson has improved since August:

"He's got good hands, is tough and coachable. He's been playing in a lot of special teams and is on the field a lot, but he hasn't played much at running back. BT is very elusive, has another gear and can make a guy miss. Frankly, he has gotten better each week. We're not giving up on Wags and Hiawatha, but BT is going to get a chance to play this week."

"(Blocking) is normally one of the toughest adjustments for any high school running back to the college level. You can't dance, shield guys and kind of get in their way and give them an elbow or shoulder in this league. They'll make you look silly and knock you 15 yards off the line of scrimmage. He's gotten much better there and is going to have to. You don't get on the field unless you're a good blocker at running back for us."

On Stevie Hicks' redshirt situation:

"It's been hard. A lot of our defensive guys would like to pull that redshirt off him and get him the heck off that scout team down there. We've gone this far with it and there's no question we'll finish the season redshirting him. Gosh almight is he going to be something."

On lack of production in red zone:

"We've got to do a better job in goal-line defense and offense. It's a very strong emphasis for us. We didn't all of a sudden emphasize it this week, but we're really putting a priority on it. That's one of the major reasons we lost that game on Saturday. If we would have done a better job down there, we'd be sitting here 7-2 instead of 6-3."

Jack Whitver on offense's ineffectiveness against Longhorns, Sooners:

"That's one of the major areas of concern for us right now. We'd been moving the ball up and down the field, at least last week we did, and were in the red zone so many times and came away a lot of times with zero points. The last two weeks we've had first-and-goal on the one or two and didn't get anything out of it either time. That's something we're going to have to work on a lot this week and hopefully we can improve it."

JaMaine Billups on defending Mizzou's quarterback:

"From our scouting report he can get the job done. He can scramble and throw the ball. When we put pressure on him this Saturday, we'll see how he really reacts. We'll have to go out there and play our style of football. We're going to bring it to them and bring everything we've got."

Nik Moser on Tigers' threat through the air with Justin Gage, Darius Outlaw and Thomson Omboga:

"It's going to be a challenge, but every week's a challenge when we play in our league. Texas and Oklahoma have great receivers, and Missouri is not any different than those teams. So it's going to be a great challenge for the secondary and linebackers to step up and make plays."

Chris Whitaker on Wallace and Smith:

"They have similar styles. He's a very athletic guy that likes to scramble and can make you miss in the open field. He can run away from you. Plus he's like 6-5, so he's a big kid. He's kind of the new type of NFL quarterback, the big guy who can throw and run."

Seneca Wallace on red zone struggles:

"We just haven't been getting in. I don't know what to tell you. We're just not getting in. We have gone up against two tough defenses that have held us up in the red zone."

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