Home Finale Ahead for Senior Starters

Iowa State coach Dan McCarney spoke with the conference media Monday morning via teleconference two days after his Cyclones dropped a Big 12 contest at Boulder, Colorado. Mac's squad, which finished the conference season at 4-4, faces future Big East Conference member Connecticut Saturday at 1 p.m. Here are some of the highlights of McCarney's teleconference.

Opening comments:

"Congratulations to Gary Barnett and Colorado for winning the Big 12 North title. It was a very hard fought game. The lead changed seven times and the effort from both teams was excellent. Nearly 1,000 yards offense by both teams and it was an exciting game. But in the end they made the plays. They made the plays in the fourth quarter. They really had some great plays in their rush game. They're a real classy well-coached football team that's going to be very representative in the Big 12 title game."

"We play Connecticut this week and they're tremendously improved. They outscored their last three opponents 162-35 and the real dominant game was over at Navy last Saturday, 38-0. It was the same Navy team that took Notre Dame to the wire and ended up losing by a touchdown. It was anybody's game right to the wire. Connecticut just blew them off the field at Navy this past Saturday. So Randy Edsall has done an excellent job."

"This is a very important game for our football team and program this Saturday. We're looking forward to finishing our home season here. We're going to try to finish 7-0 at home for the first time in the history of this place."

On making case for JaMaine Billups as Big 12 defensive newcomer of the year:

"He's really made a great impact on our football team and defense. I don't think there's any way we could be bowl eligible without his performance this year. It's been a great transition, he's learned along the way and matured. The same JaMaine Billups has showed up each week. He's a very explosive player, physical and plays with a lot of confidence."

"This is the same guy that his first defensive practice was back in early August. He didn't have any preparation last spring, last winter or in bowl practices. I'm just amazed at his progress."

On discussing Navy-Notre Dame game with players:

"I remind them. I don't see them until this afternoon. We try to be very honest and exact that there's a challenge ahead. When we go through the scouting report for Connecticut today, that's one of the things I'll hit on. They've put up 61 points, 63 points and 38 points the last three weeks. Their offense is really on a roll."

On fears of fans rushing field after big wins:

"It's alarming. It may be one of those things one of these days where they have to start really holding people from rushing the field. You hate to see it. If you're on the positive, winning side of that it's pretty exciting and a lot of fun to see the emotion in people's faces and enthusiasm. But there have been some instances this year that really makes it scary. The last thing in the world you want to see is anybody having any physical harm at the end of a game. It's horrible to hear about that or see it."

"We always preach to our players about keeping your poise in all situations and in a situation like that where it's unrehearsed, spontaneous and there are so many emotions running high I don't think it's hard to see how something like that could happen."

On Seneca Wallace trying to do too much lately:

"I don't know. I know he put up almost 370 yards of offense himself, running and throwing the football. He did so many fabulous things. As we talked about post-game, he just felt horrible about the turnovers. Two of them were just shotgun snaps that he just mishandled."

"But nobody cares more and has done more for this University than Seneca Wallace. I don't know that there's been a player that's brought more positive national attention to this program over the last two years. I love him like a son and am real proud of him. We're sure not going to put the loss on his shoulders. We win as a team and lose as a team. Fortunately we've won a lot more games than lost in the last two years."

On preparing team for UConn after finishing off toughest conference slate in history:

"I think it's going to be real easy to get them ready to play. You throw the tape on and see that they've put up 162 points over the last three games and just blew out the Navy team that played the heck out of Notre Dame. They've got a fine program that's made major progress under Randy Edsall."

"We're going to try and become the first team in the history of Iowa State to finish 7-0 in a home season. We're playing for a bigger and better bowl game. Obviously, we're already bowl eligible. We've won 14 non-conference regular season games in a row and are trying to get our 15th one."

"There is so much to play for. As you know I put a lot of emphasis on our last home game for these seniors. There are only seven senior starters and 14 seniors, so it's a small class. But they're big on heart and carry the torch here with heart and dignity. We want a last great memory here at Jack Trice Stadium for these seniors."

On team's mood coming out of the Colorado game:

"I'll see them this afternoon and look forward to being with them. We're playing for an awful lot this weekend. That the great thing about turning a program around come November. The rewards are real high. There are high stakes and a lot of excitement around the program."

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