OPENING REMARK We face a big challenge coming in here on Saturday. If you looked at Iowa State, my sense from this spring reading reports and following things was that they were going to be a much improved football team. They certainly appear to be. They have a lot of familiar faces in their lineup, as well as some newcomers that have added something to the mix. I think its safe to say that they have a nice ball club and this will be a very good game with a lot of interest from a lot of different angles. The bottom line is that we are going to need to improve this week and play a good game if we have a chance in this thing.
Kirk on Iowa State's defense
UNI had a veteran ball club and they felt confident going into that game, and basically Iowa State held them at will. They really did a nice job there. Getting Tyson Smith back is not only a boost for Iowa State not only in terms of his physical play, but I am sure having his veteran leadership is welcomed also. I think he has added a lot to the mix. Brown the linebacker has been there forever. It seems like he has been there every year since I have been here. That is not quite the case, but it's close. They have had a lot of guys that have played. They covered all of the bases and did not miss any tackles. A lot of the things you fear as a coach going into the first game did not show up on film.
We have seen Flynn throw the football pretty proficiently against us last year. I think they almost had close to 400 yards of offense against us with him directing the team. They are starting Bret, so that tells you how they are seeing the situation. The way they played Saturday, they played a similar fashion of football. That being said, we have seen Flynn throw the ball well. We will have to be ready for everything. It's a little bit like our offensive preparation last year. You see some things that Iowa State has done traditionally and they will not get away from that. But with the new coaching staff, you see some of the past Nebraska philosophy as well.
Q: This game doesn't need much of a buildup with the players?
I don't think that it needs any from me, because that has already been taken care of starting on Sunday in some cases, Saturday. If you have been in this state for a week, they all realize that this is a pretty big contest. That is the great thing about intrastate rivalries. Ours is maybe a little unique from some parts of the country, because you have two separate conferences that are recognized. It's just a great series and one that will draw a lot of interest, probably first and foremost with the players and coaches.
Do you think it's true that no matter what you prepare for, that Dan McCarney will take things to a higher level in this game?
I think if you look at the one constant over the last six years, it's been Dan. Some of the coaches have been there, but obviously not all of the players. He has been the constant factor through the whole thing. They have done a fantastic job the last six years, as they have a 5-1 record in this thing. Last year, statistically they controlled the football game. They had some problems in special teams and it appears they have that cleaned up. It seems they have dedicated a lot of time and effort there. I think it's safe to say that we expect one heck of a contest.
Q: Is there anything different about this game now compared to when you were a part of it under Hayden Fry?
It's the same rivalry. If you look back when I got here in 1981, Iowa State was enjoying some success, as they had won their second straight and 1982 they won their third straight. Then things drifted apart, but now it has gone the other way where we have been on the short end of things since I have been here. So it's a healthy rivalry, and most of the games have been good games and I expect a hard fought and closely contested ballgame.
Q: You probably don't care about these things, but did you see that you were a 25-point favorite?
I saw that this morning and was like, ‘I don't know if we can score 25 on anyone'. I am kind of interested on that one. I would like to know where that stuff comes from. Those guys are not going to practice everyday then.
Q: You said last year after the game insulted about some people saying that you and your team don't take this game as seriously as the Iowa State players and coaches.
I feel insulted when anyone at anytime says that this isn't a big game for Iowa. Last week was a big game for us. I was extremely anxious at the end of the week. If you are coaching or competing, you learn that you don't take anything for granted. Sometimes people on the outside, and I don't mean this as a demeaning thing, unless you have invested a lot of time and effort into something, it's easy to throw comments around like that. If you made the time and effort that our athletes put in, to say that that the game is not as important to one team or another, I think that is really silly. It's a scheduled game. If it was an exhibition game where we were not keeping score that is a different matter. But anytime that the scoreboard is on and the game counts, I really think that is not a complimentary thing to say about the student athletes that are playing.
Q: Do you think the in state players take this game more seriously than the out of state players?
Not to my knowledge. It might have happened. Then again, when you are on a team you figure out what is important. These kids still have to go back home and answer the questions from the people in their town, so it is a little different for them; I am not naïve. I like to think that Matt Roth will take this game as seriously as Tyler Luebke. I am sure that he will. From a fan standpoint, there is a different interest. Not everyone in the state is involved in it, but most people are. They have guys from out of state, too, and I am sure those guys will be playing just as hard as the guys from instate.
Q: Are there any similarities between the teams?
If you look at both teams, they have veteran and stout defenses. I think its fair to say that both teams have first year quarterbacks, in effect, so there are some parallels there. Common sense would tell you that the strength is on defense both ways. We knew that would be the case for us coming into the season, so this is an important week for us.
Kirk on Iowa State's defense
Their scheme is different than some other places. Not to get into a family tree here, but it's different than Wisconsin's and Dan was at Wisconsin with Barry. I think the common denominator is that they play with intensity and good effort, just like you would expect of any defense that Dan has been associated with at Iowa, Wisconsin and Iowa State.
Kirk on ISU OC and OL Coach Barney Cotton
Anytime you read the papers, they want to get the run game established again. That is common sense. The successful teams that Mac has had at Iowa State, they want to get back to where they have been when they have been successful. I think that was a part of the impetus when they hired Coach Cotton.
Q: This game is still very important to the fans.
I am all for it. I think it's great. No matter whether you play here, or up in Ames any year, regardless of when the teams get together, it's going to be a fantastic environment. The energy level is high. All week long it's a game that creates interest. I think it's the greatest thing in the world. These are funs things to be a part of, because you just know that your players are going to be excited all week long, just like how things are going to be in Ames. That is the neat thing about playing in a rivalry game like this.
Q: Would you ever consider dropping this game?
I am a little fuzzy as to why that ever happened, I think things got out of hand, I was not around. I am not looking at you, Bob (Brooks). That is not part of sports, and to me it would be sad if these two teams did not compete. It would be a missed opportunity for a real positive thing.