Counting Down to Humanitarian Bowl VI

Cold and rainy conditions Monday night afforded the Iowa State coaching staff a little more time in their preparation for tomorrow's Humanitarian Bowl matchup with Boise State. A pregame walk-through was cut short by 30 minutes and bowl officials cancelled a pep rally set for the downtown district. In search of a story on the eve of ISU's final game of the 2002 season, Cyclone Nation caught up with ISU director of football operations Don Knock at the team hotel for a question and answer session.

CN: How about some opening comments on the football team's overall experience in Boise thus far.

Knock: Things have really gone well. The Double Tree Hotel has done a great job for us here where we are. It's a really nice hotel complex. All of the events we've been to have been first class. They've done a nice job out here.

Everything has gone very smoothly with the routine, itinerary and schedule that we're on. We started out at the Bishop Kelly High School and were there one day. We got some moisture and then it had been frozen. It was treacherous footing, so we ended up transporting everything over to the stadium and have been over there since."

CN: Coach Dan McCarney spoke very positively on the tone of workouts in Ames before departing for the bowl game. Has that continued onto the practice fields in Boise?

Knock: We've really had great practices and they've been upbeat. The spirit's been really good and the kids seem to have an extra bounce in their step. We had really good weather the first couple days we were here. It was 50 degrees on Friday and Saturday. It's been nice up until today with the rain.

CN: Give us a brief scouting report on Boise State.

Knock: They've got some excellent talent, are 11-1, ranked in the top 25 and are a heck of a good football team. It's no different than what we've gone through before, going on the road and playing a rated team. We've had to do that a lot this year. They're a first-class team and have personnel that will give you fits. Their quarterback has only thrown three picks all year. So there are a lot of things that we have to prepare for on both sides of the ball.

CN: CBS Sportsline and some other outlets say tomorrow's matchup between the Cyclones and Broncos will be one of the bowl season's best. What do you think?

Knock: Anytime you bring teams on the field like we both have with Seneca Wallace and the people that surround him—we're capable of playing really good football. We showed that at the beginning of the year, but haven't done it recently. We feel refreshed and I think we can get on the field and do that.

Then you've got Boise State, an 11-1 team and WAC Champion. They've got the most valuable players in the league on both sides of the ball. (Ryan) Dinwiddie is a heck of a quarterback. A lot of things will be good for fans to watch.

We've seen the rankings as well. ESPN is thinking very highly of this game. I think it's going to be one of the better bowl matchups.

CN: What are a few keys to an Iowa State victory.

Knock: Everyone feels that we have to run the football. Anytime you can get into situations where you can run the football, I think you gain an advantage. You look at most of the bowl games that have been played, teams that have done that have done that have been able to win. Offensively, that's one thing we want to attempt to do.

When you get into the situation with a weather issue possibly, rushing the ball successfully and taking time off the clock, not turning the ball over, forcing them to punt, slowing their offense and maybe keeping their offense off the field are some keys. It's nothing different than any of the games we've been in all year.

CN: Another highlight to bowl preparations has to do with players that won't even hit the field tomorrow. What are some of the staff's evaluations of the work done by the freshmen over the past few weeks?

Knock: Their tempo has been to that level as well. It's given a lot of kids the opportunity to step up in situations and show coaches what they can do. We've seen some of our offensive linemen step up and do that, as well as some guys on the defensive side of the ball.

Again, Stevie Hicks is a guy that seems to come to mind an awful lot, in terms of some of those practices that we've had. Some of our younger quarterbacks also have shown some promise. It's been very good. We spent four or five extra periods every day doing that. It helps those kids, because they feel like they're doing more in practice. It also helps us with evaluation.

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