Football Quotebook: Kansas State

At Tuesday's weekly football press conference in Ames, Coach Dan McCarney and his Iowa State Cyclones were eager to begin another two-game road trip in the Big 12, starting with this Saturday's contest at Kansas State.

Dan McCarney:

Opening comments:

"We're real proud of capturing our third winning season in a row and third bowl eligibility in a row. It was a great victory for us without playing great football on Saturday. Everybody knows that from watching the game. Seneca was sensational and our offense with more than 600 yards was outstanding, but we didn't play great football as a team. Yet we still came out on top and got a very important win against a team that's much improved and took Oklahoma to within seven points."

"We're real healthy overall. Everybody that played in the game Saturday will definitely practice today, which is always a good sign."

"Our special teams captain this week will be Matt Bockes. He's been our short snapper and done some deep snapping for us. He's a former walk-on that earned a scholarship a while back."

"It's obvious that our destiny is in our own hands the next three Saturdays and especially the next two Saturdays in the Big 12 Conference. Iowa State and Kansas are the only two teams right now that have two conference games left. Everybody else has three. We've come a long ways and I'm real proud of what we've done. Eight weeks being ranked in the top 25 is one thing, but doing it against the schedule that we've had—to maintain and sustain that success around the country is very meaningful to me and all of us here at Iowa State."

"Fourteen weeks ago yesterday our freshmen reported, so it has been a long season with three more Saturdays to go and at least one more opportunity at the end of the regular season. I think the kids have handled it well and I don't sense that they're drained right now emotionally, mentally or physically. They have done a good job of maintaining and sustaining a good work ethic and attentiveness. We're really looking forward to this game on Saturday."

"Kansas State is playing like a top-10 football team and just dominating people for the most part and is outscoring people 45-11 on average through nine games. We know how tough this thing is going to be. It's much like the Nebraska series that has just been completely dominated by Kansas State with the exception of one year."

"Most of that domination starts up front in the offensive and defensive lines where they have out-toughed us, out-hit us and out-physicaled us. You see that when you turn the tape on and watch it from recent years, which we have."

"They're a veteran team and have been to nine straight bowl games and now 10. They've been in the situations where they're playing for a Big 12 North title, but we haven't realistically been in the race very much in recent years. We have the toughest task the next couple weeks than anybody in the Big 12. But we're still here and are in November playing for an awful lot. The rewards and stakes are very high. That makes for a very exciting time."

On getting off to good start after being blown out early at K-State in past:

"It's just so important. We hope we can go out and get off to a good start, like we did down at Texas. The end result was not what we wanted, but on both sides of the ball we got off to a good start, did some good things and it didn't appear that it was going to be any physical mismatch against the fourth ranked team in the country."

"Those are the kinds of things you want to do, because it gives you a chance and more of an opportunity. You get confidence when you play well early in a football game on the road and especially based on the recent history of the series between Iowa State and Kansas State."

On Wildcats returning home after back-to-back road victories:

"Kansas State's had two weeks where they just completely dominated and annihilated two teams they've played on the road and I'm sure they're anxious to get back home and beat a team they've had their way with in recent years."

On progress of ISU receiver Lance Young:

"I think he's one of the most improved player on our team and in the Big 12. You look at what he's done on kickoff returns and as a wide receiver. Thanks to Barry Alvarez, he's here at Iowa State. He started at Wisconsin in his career, things didn't work out and he went to a junior college. I would have never known about Lance Young had it not been for Barry. He called and said this guy can play in your league, my league and can play period. We followed up and gave him this opportunity."

"He's just done an outstanding job. He has another gear, excellent speed and a burst. He's got big-play ability. He showed signs of it a little bit last year as a reserve and backup. This year he is really playing and his role has increased. He's earned that playing time and is making the most of it. Plus Lance is one of all those receivers that are back again next year. It gives you a great feeling for the future."

On what specifically has improved in Young's game:

"Playing time, confidence, learning the system, you can't hardly find a mental error behind Lance Young's name. He knows the offense and feels great about what he's doing. He knows he's very important to our offense and is playing with great confidence. That's probably the big difference. He's been able to run and had good hands since he got here, but more than anything else he's really learned the offense now, understands it and has a great role."

On ISU being improved against K-State:

"We have to be and will find out on Saturday. The number one thing I think when I look at the series and what's happened, physically they have just mauled us and turned it into a mismatch up front. Even some situations and opportunities where we thought we had a real good chance going into it, it was a complete mismatch."

"We all remember a couple years ago when we captured our first winning season and bowl eligibility. We beat Missouri, then turned around and went down to Manhattan the next Saturday and it ended up being 56-10. It was about as ugly a game as I've coached in since I've been here."

On practice status for Tuesday:

"We're going to try to get to grass if there's any chance that it melts by practice time, but if not we'll go on the turf outdoors. It's another reason why this indoor facility is so important to us. You would have thought it would have been built back in the ‘70s and here it is 2002 and we're still waiting on it. It's done and the money is in the bank, but these are the kinds of things you need. This isn't Arizona, Texas, California or New Mexico. We're in Iowa and there is going to be a lot of bad weather year-round when we need an indoor facility."

On K-State defense:

"You see the same things—great players all over the field on defense. They all can run. The defensive front almost returns intact when you look at their front seven. It's the same guys we coached against last year in the front seven. The secondary with (Terence) Newman, there's no doubt he's a legitimate Jim Thorpe candidate. He's as good as I've been last year and this year."

"They're number on in the country in scoring defense, number four in rush and number three in total. They're leading the conference in all three of those categories and are every bit as good as the Oklahoma defense with what we've seen on tape."

On what senior Zach Butler has brought to team:

"He's a joy to coach and one of those guys every football teams wants and needs. He does it by example. He probably hates running, conditioning and our winter program more than any other kid I've ever been around in our life and has never made his shuttle time since he's been here. He's not built to run and is like his dad who played with me. The conditioning part of it is not their forte, but when it comes to courage, heart, guts, leadership and perseverance and playing the game the way it's supposed to be played, that's the guy. The mold that you want is Zach Butler. He's a great example to all of our guys and we will miss him."

"I've been in this a lot of years and get close to a lot of players, but that's one of those deals that I don't relish or cherish the time I have to say goodbye to him. We'll always be great friends and our families are great fans, but I don't want to think about the last chance I have to coach him, whatever bowl game we're in."

On Butler's playing for three different offensive coordinators:

"You've got be flexible and adaptive. That's something players can't control. Fortunately it's been the same head coach through his career here. That helps and there is some stability there. He's done a real good job. There isn't anybody in the country that couldn't coach Zach Butler. What he brings to the practice field and game field from a leadership standpoint, he makes it easy to coach him."

On rushing game outlook going into Manhattan:

"We felt better last week and Missouri is obviously not as good as Kansas State on defense. But we felt good that we nearly got 180 yards rushing and did get some running game going. Mike Wagner and Brian Thompson did some good things."

"But there isn't a weakness on (Kansas State's) defense. Their statistics (against the pass) aren't unbelievably ridiculous like they are against the run. So hopefully there are some opportunities for us to throw it, but it's going to be real hard. They're going to do everything they can to disrupt Seneca, our protection and receivers."

"Our problems in recent years has been getting receivers open. It hasn't been just 15 to 20 where our quarterbacks had no chance, but instead our receivers couldn't get open. Their coverage has been every bit as good as their pressure up front. That's the thing we've got to try to defeat."

On K-State's Ell Roberson compared to Seneca Wallace:

"He's not as big a quarterback and is faster. If Roberson was not a quarterback, he could start for anybody in this league as a running back. A lot of people would probably say the same thing about Seneca. Roberson has those kind of abilities in the open field."

"They have a lot of offense. You don't squeeze it down and put up formations, tendencies, plays and all of those things. We almost ran out of board space this week. There is that much offense in. Bill knows what he's doing, coaches it well and the kids know it. You can't stop everything, but we've got to slow them down, win the turnover ratio and put ourselves in a position to make it a four-quarter game."

On team's lack of four-quarter effort this fall:

"The closest game would be Nebraska. From start to finish, that's been our best game in the Big 12. It was against a real quality opponent that went to the final play of the game against Texas last weekend. That's the kind of effort, toughness, grit, courage, heart, togetherness and unity that we're going to need to have to have a chance against Kansas State. That's the way we've got to play on Saturday."

On scuttlebutt on internet of his going to Michigan State:

"I don't pay any attention to it and hear it from my coaches. I'm not smart enough to work that message board on my laptop. My focus is with this team and trying to do something we haven't done before at this University. I've got my hands more than full with that."

On importance of improving punting game:

"It was extremely disappointing and the biggest negative to come out of that game was our punt game. Missouri hadn't blocked a punt all season and hadn't returned one for touchdown all season. They happened to do that against Iowa State. So that was not a fun punt meeting we went through yesterday evaluating it."

"That's ridiculous when they're in punt safe and blocked a punt. We've got about three or four guys in position to make a tackle on the return and don't. None of those guys out there had sprained ankles. Those were healthy Iowa State punt cover guys that need to go down and tackle."

"It was absolutely inexcusable. Some of the problems and breakdowns we have reviewed, tested, coached, had it on tape, coached it through and didn't get it done. I hold my coaches responsible and challenge them, but those guys sitting in this room better take some responsibility. That was sickening to watch. It's not right when you've got a football team like that one where one segment of the special teams is so poor that it lets this whole team down. All of them feel bad about it and are embarrassed. We'll see if they do something about it this week."

On who or what's at fault:

"It's a combination of things. We had poor snaps, poor punts and took too long to punt some. The protection one time was poor. They're in punt safe and get a punt blocked. I've been in it for 27 years and don't remember that happening against a team that I was on. What a great way to remember your punt team from last Saturday. It's just stupid. Those things should never happen, but they had one guy (Bynum) that came hard and we had a guy that didn't do what he was supposed to. He thought he was going to put his hands out there, got run over and the punt got blocked."

"Marty Fine is embarrassed. A lot of snaps and a lot of games this year (our punt game) has been a strength, but it was one of the biggest weaknesses on our team Saturday. People see it, the blood's in the water and they're going to come after us. We'll see if we get the problem fixed. That's what coaching is all about."

On any long-term guarantees for him at Iowa State:

"There are no guarantees in life. I don't think about it right now. All of that stuff and my consideration of staying at Iowa State will take place after the season. I want to be here, I want to stay and am looking forward to it. We just want to be taken care of."

"Leaving Iowa State or anyplace, I don't ever look forward to that. When I left Iowa, the toughest thing was saying goodbye that last time to Hayden Fry and Bill Brashier. It broke my heart to leave my hometown, parents, lifelong friends and the University of Iowa. How easy do you think it was to leave Barry Alvarez and Wisconsin to take this job? Those players up there, you get attached to them."

On K-State's offensive mentality:

"I don't think they're going to come into this thing and try to take it over at the line of scrimmage and come after us. It's sure not that Ell Roberson can't throw the ball and they don't have good receivers. We haven't slowed them down in the running game and haven't stopped them. They have really dominated the line of scrimmage running the ball and have been at their best. It's a power attack, physical attack and a speed attack. They get you outside on the perimeter with their option game, come inside and come after you."

Lance Young on Wildcat secondary:

"They have a tough defense and we're going to have to go out and execute our gameplan. We know it's going to be a tough game, like a street brawl, so we're going to have to execute our gameplan. They have a great defense. Separation has been a problem just watching other teams play against them, so that's going to be a big challenge for our receiving corps to get that and catch the ball."

Jordan Carstens on facing K-State versus Nebraska:

"On the outside they look real similar when you compare their stats and the type of offense they run. It's just another game that we've got to get ready for. It's one of these teams where there's not a lot of scheming. We've got to go in and play tough. That's what you've got to do to win. We've got to come out and play smash-mouth football."

Tyson Smith on turning tables in series:

"On paper I guess you could say we match up better with them, but you could say that last year and look what happened. They have a history of beating us. Ever since I've been here, we haven't even come close to beating them. That's a goal for me and this team to go out here and try to win this game."

Seneca Wallace on Kansas State:

"We're going to have to go out there and do what we're capable of doing. We have to run the ball to keep the defense honest and we've got to work hard to do that."

"We've got two tough road games and have to make sure we don't make the same mistakes we did on our first road trip down to Oklahoma. We've got to make sure we come out, start fast, play four quarters real physical and stay focused. If we stay united we'll be OK."

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