CSR Talks With South Dakota State Head Coach

The Iowa State football team opens its 2008 season on Thursday night against South Dakota State. Cyclone Sports Report recently talked with their head coach John Stiegelmeier to find out more about what we can expect from the Jackrabbits.

Cyclone Sports Report: Your team is coming off its first conference title since 1963 and the team ended the season winning seven of its last eight games. Do you feel your team is building off the success that you had last season?

John Stiegelmeier: The success of last year is in the past. That stuff is for the fans in my opinion. We have to play in the present because too many of us get caught up in looking back. If we do that we lose track of what we need to do right now which is the most important thing.

CSR: Your senior quarterback Ryan Berry returns for his second year as starter. Last year he threw for scores in 10 of 11 games and completed 60 percent of his passes. What makes him special to you?

JS: He's just a very, very mature leader. He really makes as many big plays due to his maturity and calmness as much as with his physical abilities. He's really had a great fall camp for us.

CSR: Your team lost your workhorse running back Cory Koenig and are replacing him with sophomore Kyle Minett who does not have a lot of experience. How is your running game looking going into the season?

JS: Honestly, it hasn't been as effective as we hoped. Really it's also due to our inexperience along the offensive line.

CSR: Senior defensive tackle Eric Schroeder lead your league in tackles for loss last year and was recently named pre-season All-America for the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA). What makes him such an impact player?

JS: He's just special and really brings a lot to the table. He's a three-technique lineman who is just very aggressive on every play. He just plays hard on every snap.

CSR: What area are you guys working to improve the most on defense?

JS: I would have to say the secondary. It's coming along a little slower than we wanted. We don't have two corners that have clearly proven to be the starters. It's a battle everyday at that position. The safety position is a little ahead because there is more experience at that position. Our corners really need to mature.

CSR: How do you view Iowa State's offense?

JS: That thing that is glaring in the stats and on film is that when they were in position to score last season they didn't accomplish that enough. I don't know if that was youth or what but we definitey hope we can keep them out of the end zone. We also know that they ran a lot of stuff last year. We are really kind of in the dark when it comes to knowing what they are going to run against us because they ran so many different sets last year.

CSR: How do you view Iowa State defensively?

JS: Defensively they'll be real tough. Coach Chizik is building the program and building it the right way with defense. We expect a real battle and hope to also make some plays in the kicking game.

CSR: This is your first game since making the transition from Division II to Division I Football Championship Subdivision. What do you hope to gain from this game against Iowa State?

JS: We feel that victory is possible but we realize that we will probably have to overachieve and play incredibly well. It's a way of measuring our program since we have never played up before. We're going to do so for the next four weeks right out of the shoot so these games will be real important. If you play well there is definitely recruiting effects that could help us.

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