Hawks Talk: Native Iowans Discuss Iowa State

Iowa seniors and Hawkeye State natives Robert Gallery, Grant Steen and Jared Clauss are down to their last chance to beat those guys in Ames. Read what they had to say about the game's importance, last year's second-half collapse and what it will take to end the dreaded streak. There are three full interviews to get HTO members fired up for Saturday's showdown.

GRANT STEEN:

Q: Can you talk about what happened during the second half of last year's Iowa State game?

GS: I think some of us might have been suprised that the halftime score was so lopsided. I don't know if we were just that more ready to go than Iowa State was. But they definitely came out and proved that they wanted the most important half of the game. They won. So, we just have to keep our focus on playing one play at a time and just take it slow and make the plays when they present themselves.

Q: For the guys that were a part of that game last year, did you guys talk about the disappointment of the second half amongst yourselves?

GS: I think it's something that a lot of guys talked about last year. We made a point to finish strong every game. That's another one of our team goals this year is to start fast and finish strong. So, you've got to take that into every game. No matter what the score is, you just keep pressing and making plays.

Q: Do you feel like you guys lost emotion at halftime last year or did they just come out higher than you guys?

GS: They got a couple of key turnovers that kind of sucked the wind out of us right away. They made us press a little more than what we needed to and opened up some gaps for them to attack us. They did a great job of coming out ready to go.

Q: (Coach McCarney's) halftime speech last year has gotten a lot of attention. Can a inspired halftime speech make that much difference?

GS: It's up to the coaches to recognize what has been hurting the team, offensively and defensively and make adjustments. Then, if one of the coaches feels inspired to give a rah-rah speech, then that's how they do it. Whatever it takes for the team to get motivated. If a coach feels like the team is dragging a little bit and they need to be fired up, then go ahead and do it.

Q: Do you get that from Norm (Parker)?

GS: If something is going wrong, he's going to get after you. He's going to make a point that this play is going to get stopped in the second half if it has been hurting us. All of our coaches have different ways of motivating you. I'm sure that's the way it is across the country.

Q: It's exciting that this is the big rival for Iowa, but is there any sense of dread in you that you have to face the game and all of the questions from the media and friends and fellow students about the past five seasons?

GS: I think that I have a good handle on what people are going to ask because I've been doing it since I was a freshman. We know what to say. I'm sure Iowa State is getting the same questions that we are. It's just part of the deal.

Q: As a veteran, are you putting any more importance on this one game to get that losing streak over with?

GS: You know there's been a lot of focus the last five years on this game. We have our out of season, our Iowa State season and our Big Ten season. That's something that Coach Ferentz has mentioned. That's our focus right now. This is a one-game season right now. We'll take it from there.

Q: Is there any noticeable difference between Coach Ferentz during the Iowa State week compared to other weeks?

GS: He's done a good in the past seasons to make a statement that this game is big. It took him a couple of seasons to get back in the swing of the Iowa-Iowa State week. But he's done an excellent job of putting the focus on Iowa State these last couple of years, and the team is really feeding off of that.

Q: How much did your interception-fumble play at Ames in '01 bother you and have you been able to let that go?

GS: It's something that if it happens when you're a young guy that you let go. I'd be really mad if I was a senior. That's something that would probably stick with you a lot longer. It happened when I was a sophomore. It's something that I learned from. Last year I didn't drop it once when I picked it off at Indiana. Norm Parker does a good job of about giving me a hard time about hanging onto the ball. Everybody is there to keep us focused.

Q: Do you wonder to yourself why it had to happen against Iowa State? Nobody probably would have remembered had it been against Buffalo or Akron.

GS: You're going to learn from your mistakes. I guess what better time to make a big mistake than in a big game to learn from? Hopefully it doesn't ever happen again to anybody at Iowa or Iowa State. That's something that's tough. I lived through it. I made myself better from it too.

Q: What is it about their offense that concerns you guys?

GS: They're not going to change up their base plays that they've ran the last five years just because they've got a new quarterback. He does a good job of getting on the edge and making throws to the sideline, which is something they've done for the last three or four years with Seneca (Wallace). I think they've got a typical quarterback that they want in their offense now, somebody mobile. They're going to use that to their advantage.

Q: What happended on the long pass play when Seneca made the memorable third-quarter scramble and throw?

GS: We had a zone blitz on. I was just coming on contain. He made a heck of a throw. I mean anytime you're out passed the numbers throwing to the middle of the field, that's just a great player making a great play. You could have the perfect coverage, but if he's able to make that throw, then it's going to get completed.

JARED CLAUSS:

Q: You are from Central Iowa. How much emotion is there for you?

JC: I grew up about a half hour away, saw some games there in high school and it was close to home. But this is my new home right here.

Q: Is there stuff that goes on in the trenches in the Iowa State game that doesn't happen in other games?

JC: No. Every game that I've played in it hasn't been too bad. I mean it's just two lines going at each other. They've got a good line this year. I think we've got a good defensive line. It will be another good battle.

Q: Does this game mean more to their coaches and players?

JC: I couldn't tell you that. I know it's big for both schools. I know they're going to practice hard just like we're going to practice hard this week.

Q: Would you go far as to say it's just like any other week?

JC: It's another game for us. We just have to get out there. A lot of guys are excited to get out and practice today. I know that. We're just ready to start preparing for them.

Q: How do you balance your emotion and get it to a healthy level?

JC: You can't start thinking about it and you can't start getting worked up about it this week. You've got to stay focused and watch your tape and go out there and practice hard. If you get worked up now, you're not going to have anything left on Saturday. The emotion will come. Right now, we've just got to prepare for them.

Q: Does it build up throughout the week until the crescendo on Saturday?

JC: The more stuff we get in and the better we get and running their plays and defending them, I mean it's going to build up and we're going to get more confident and more comfortable as the week goes on.

Q: What are your thoughts about the five-game losing streak? Does that weigh on you?

JC: Of course it does. Bu the past is in the past. Right now, this team is focused on this game. It's a big game for us and we're just ready to get out there and play.

Q: How much time do you spend with (ISU LT and former West Des Moines Valley teammate) Casey Shelton?

JC: I don't talk to him much.

Q: What do you remember about the second half last year?

JC: I don't think that we came out with the mental edge that we had in the first half. We made too many mistakes and it really cost us. It was a tough half, expecially the way we started out, but that's in the past.

Q: Is there any play that sticks out in your mind from that half?

JC: It was just the whole second half was kind of just a letdown for us. But, like I said, we've put that in the past and we're excited about getting out there today and practicing for them.

Q: Can you talk about Iowa State's offensive strengths?

JC: They're a lot like last year. They're coached well. They've got a good offensive line. The freshman quarterback looks like a good player. They've got good receivers and good backs. They're a well-balanced offense.

Q: Do you expect Flynn to move out of the pocket like Seneca?

JC: He does a lot of things that Seneca did. He's a mobile kid. And he seems to have a pretty strong arm.

Q: As that the one thing that concerns you the most that Flynn is kind of an unknown?

JC: No. We've seen some tape on him and he looks like a good player. And we're going to prepare for him the same way that we prepared for Seneca. I don't think you can be unknown. We're going to be ready.

Q: Like the second half of last year, is it possible to be too confident?

JC: I don't think that that was part of that. It just came down to execution. We were executing in the first half, and we didn't in the second half. It cost us.

Q: Is it possible to be over emotional, especially for the guys from Iowa?

JC: There's going to be emotion for our Iowa guys just like there's emotion over there for their Iowa guys. But it's the Hawkeyes versus the Cyclones. It's not the Iowa guys versus the Cyclones.

Q: Do you think that the media and the fans take all of this a little too far?

JC: No. You guys don't take it too far. It's great for the state. This is the biggest thing in the state, and it's great for sports in the state and people that like football.

Q: When you go back to Des Moines, what kind of things do you hear from Iowa State fans?

JC: I don't go back to Des Moines too much. We're pretty busy over the holidays. I don't really listen to what they say. I'm focusing on this team and getting better myself.

Q: Do you talk to (ISU LB and former WDV teammate) Joe Woodley about the rivalry at all?

JC: No. It's pretty calm when we go back. Joe is a good player. It's great seeing the rest of the guys that I went to high school with. It's been tough, but they've been good about it. They've been pretty nice and I know they're working hard up there just like I'm working hard here.

Q: Did you grow up an Iowa State fan or an Iowa fan?

JC: I'm an Iowa fan.

Q: Is that the reason you came here instead of going there?

JC: The biggest thing was that Iowa offered me a chance to play defense and I was a Hawkeye fan growing up. And you can't turn that down.

Q: What are your recollections about this game growing up?

JC: As you guys know, when I was leaving my high school career it was a switch. But other than that, it was pretty much dominated by Iowa. The memories are of blowouts games. But times have changed. Both programs have come up and it's going to be a great game every year.

Q: Did you go to many of those games growing up?

JC: Yeah, my dad took my to some Iowa-Iowa State games. I remember sitting in the north end zone (at Kinnick) a couple of times.

ROBERT GALLERY:

Q: Can emotion in this game be underplayed or overplayed. Is it a factor?

RG: I think it can be overplayed. It's still a game. It's just as important as any other game on our schedule. Obviously it means a lot to different guys. To me personally it means a lot just being from Iowa and the feelings that I have towards Iowa State. But it's a game that you have to come out and play your best to win. It's not different than any other game. It's just there's a little more motivation behind it. It doesn't take as much to get going for this game. If you're not motivated for this game, I don't think you should be playing.

Q: The general perception is that you guys have lost five in a row and that Iowa State wants it more. Is that true?

RG: It's just like any other game. There's a lot of games that we should have won, could have won, maybe won. It's all about executing for four quarters, which we haven't done in the last two years. The second half last year, we didn't. We beat ourselves. That's the way with every game for us. If we beat ourselves, then that happens. But somehow, we've got to do things right and the game will take care of itself.

Q: Are you guys going to keep emotion in check this week until it's game time?

RG: You've got to control your emotions, obviously throughout the week. And, that's easily done. But we also have to come out and have good, intense practices. We're going to win this game during the week. If we're going to win it, we're going to win it in practice.

Q: What are your feelings towards Iowa State?

RG: I obviously chose Iowa over Iowa State. I play for a great university, and I'm obviously a diehard Hawk fan. I always have been ever since I was two years old. My feelings are just that it's a big game for us. It's an intrastate rival. This is a game that I really want to win.

Q: Do you remember what that feeling was like in '98 when they ended that streak?

RG: Yeah. I think that everybody was kind of in a daze because we had won for so long (15 consecutive years). I think that people kind of forget about that too. We hear about their five-year streak. But look at the (15) years before that. None of that really matters. It's just a matter of this year. There's nothing that we can do about the last five years or the (15) years before that. It's about this Saturday and preparing to win this week.

Q: Can you talk about (ISU DT Jordan) Carstens?

RG: He's a good player. He does a lot of great things, plays with a great motor. A lot of their guys do. It will be a great challenge for our line to get in there and go against a guy that has some accolades.

Q: A lot has been made of Coach McCarney's halftime speech last year. Do halftime speeches matter for you guys?

RG: Not really. No speech is going to make you play better. You've got to do it yourself. We came out slow last year in the second half and made some little mistakes. It wasn't that we weren't playing hard or doing a lot of things wrong. We just made a few mistakes and put the ball on the ground. You're not going to win when you put the ball on the ground. You've got to do the little things to win.

Q: How much did they factor into you guys making those mistakes?

RG: It's always a great game between them and us. They're always motivated. They probably play at a higher level than they do all year. You can't do things like that in big games like this. You've got to be sound. You can't do anything to put a little momentum on the other side.

Q: What do they do defensively that has made them successful against you guys?

RG: They bring a lot of guys and try to put a lot of pressure on. They do a lot of what we've seen with a lot of other teams. It's just a matter of us executing what we have to do, picking up those blitzes and doing a lot of those little things.

Q: Is Masonville a Hawkeye town or a Cyclone town?

RG: It's pretty split I think. There are a lot of Cyclones up there.

Q: What do the Cyclone fans say to you when you're back?

RG: They obviously talk about the five in a row or whatever. There's not a whole lot to say.

Q: What's it like playing in Jack Trice?

RG: It's great. I love it. You've got grandmas and grandpas yelling at us. I remember to years ago we were driving in there and Iowa State fans jumping out in front of the buses and throwing beer cans off our buses. It was pretty wild. It's fun though. That's what drives a competitor, people getting on you. It's a good environment. I think we're going to have just as many fans there as they will.

Q: Do you feel like your career would be incomplete without a win against Iowa State?

RG: I would have liked to win four or five when I was here. But it didn't happen. It's a big game for me. I want to go out with a win against Iowa State. You can't put too much into it because it's Iowa State. There's a lot of season left after this.


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