Cyclone Pre-Game Quotebook: UNI

Cyclones take field Saturday night (R. Strickland)

Iowa State head coach Dan McCarney met with the local media in the first of a series of weekly Tuesday press conference. Here is a complete transcription of his comments.

Opening comments:

"We've handled the heat real well. It's very unusual for Iowa to be in the 90s this long this time of the year, but we have not had any heat-related problems or anybody missing practice because of the heat. We didn't adjust one thing or change practice times. We've done the same thing that we've done in the last eight years."

"Ellis Hobbs will be our special teams captain for the UNI game. He's not only having a tremendous camp as a defensive back, but he wants to be on special teams and has a real passion for it."

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Evelyn Kruse, one of our secretaries. She was in a real serious car accident the same day Matt Grosserode died. It's real sad. She's still in intensive care down in Des Moines and we're really hoping and praying she'll get back to a speedy recovery. She is showing some improvement."

"There are no new injuries since the ones I announced last week. We've had a lot of good practices and good work since then, but nothing new. Hopefully we can get through the rest of this week the same way."

"We moved Tim TeBrink from defensive line to offensive guard for two reasons. Obviously, number one was the injury to All-Big 12 Bob Montgomery. Number two, the emergence, improvement and performance of some freshmen defensive linemen that have come in here and been a little further along than we thought they would."

"Cory Wierson has not responded to surgery and treatments, so he will take a medical scholarship or hardship. He'll still stay close to the program and wants to be a student coach, but his career as a player is over. We had high hopes for him and his career at Iowa State. He was a fine,young offensive line prospect, but he has not gotten much better and has a life to live. That's more important than football right now."

"Ten freshmen or redshirt freshmen will play. Some of those guys will be starting their first games. It's a combination of excitement for them, yet not really knowing what to expect on our end because we don't know under game conditions how they'll respond. Those are a lot of guys that are young that will get their first chance to play."

"The only starting position still to be determined is at left cornerback between Anthony Forrest and Harold Clewis. It's a great battle and both of them can play. We think they can win for us, but that battle continues through the week of practice. And then the kicker position between Adam Benike and Tony Yelk continues. Both of them have had outstanding camps with very few missed PATs or field goals. I might make a decision pre-game on that."

"We sold all 7,000 student season tickets, which is fantastic. They'll make some more available, but the first 7,000 that they put aside for students are gone. And then our season tickets are nearly 25,000. The fans have gradually come back to support this program. That's good for everyone in our department when those numbers are going up."

"Coach Mark Farley is going to bring in a very good Northern Iowa team. A lot of the players we watched tape on from last year are back. There are some new faces, but some real good playmakers. In 1992 and 1994, they came down to Ames and beat Iowa State. That's a real reminder that it can happen and has happened. We know they're going to be very well coached and hungry."

On freshmen defensive linemen:

"They're all further along than we thought they could be. Jason Berryman is the one that has had a tremendous camp. He's going to back up Tyson Smith, but you'll see him get substantial playing time in his first game here Saturday night.

"He's one of the best defensive players we're recruited since we've been here. We thought he was a good player and we went head to head with Arizona to get him. He's one of the most athletic, most relentless freshmen I've ever been around. I've never been around many freshmen that played that hard every snap. The kids nicknamed him ‘Flash,' because he's real fast and real quick. He runs all the conditioning drills with the linebackers and beats them on every sprint at the end of practice.

"Matt Scherbring is a young man we had here in camp and thought he was very physical. He's got a lot to learn and is still just a green, young freshman. But he's a 322-pound freshman that's been very physical in camp. We're going to give him the go ahead to play this year and feel very good about him."

"Brent Curvey is another young man that we thought was athletic. He came in at about 290 pounds and we trimmed him down a little bit and got him in a little better condition. Those guys are all going to play and will play in the game Saturday night."

"We have great experience with the starters, with the exception of Cephus Johnson who has just a little bit of experience. There is no experience with the backups, but I think there is talent. That's a position where really need to put them on the fast track in game day and practice. I'm very encouraged by the future of those kids."

On comparing this freshman class to recent ones:

"I don't know if it's the best, but it's a darn good one. It's hard to rate and rank. We've only had three weeks with these kids. It's much better than the people around the country thought it was when we signed them in February. We've got another four to six kids that we've had to make hard decision on, whether or not we'd hold them or play them.

"For instance, we've never had two better receivers than Todd Blythe or Milan Moses in one class. Both of them had outstanding camps and we're going to try to hold them because of the depth and talent at wide receiver. Every time we get into competitive situations, Blythe only makes plays.

"Bret Meyer is an outstanding quarterback prospect and we're going to try to hold him. We're trying to hold all of those offensive linemen, with the exception of Aaron Brant who got the head start in January. He'll start his first game.

"We're going to hold Caleb Berg right now. We're very pleased with him so far, playing safety and special teams. It's been a hard decision with him. But this redshirt isn't some any formal signature on some piece of paper that puts you out for the year. That can change next week or two weeks from now.

"We don't think there is a mistake or a miss so far from what we've seen in that bunch of freshmen we brought in. I'm real happy with them."

On more freshmen playing nationally:

"There is more and more of it around the country. The physical maturity and sometimes the emotional and mental maturity of young men these days – maybe they're better prepared than they were years ago. We're not throwing these kids out there holding our breath. We're not sure what they're going to do, but we've seen them in many competitive situations against good people."

On approach for Northern Iowa:

"If we're going to achieve the goals that I set for this football team, we've got to get off to a great start. We don't want to go out there wandering around in the dark wondering if this is going to be a good team or not. Play with confidence and play like you're only one of 31 teams in the country that's been to three straight bowl games."

On offensive line comparisons to last season's unit:

"We're definitely better with Bob Montgomery in the lineup. That's a major loss. He's one of the top players on our team and is not only the best offensive linemen in our program, but one of the best players on our whole football team. So it's a major loss.

"Matt Bockes is a fifth-year senior that has played some and started one game. Our expectations are real high. There better not be any dropoff, and that's what we're telling our offensive line. You can cinch it up, get tighter, play together or you can sit around and complain and cry and make excuses for Bobby not being in the lineup. But I'm not accepting that or buying it. Thank God it's not a season-ending injury.

"It is a major loss and we're going to miss him, but our offensive line still with Bobby out of the lineup has a chance to be better than last year. Both tackles had 28 starts between them last year and hadn't started one game going in. Luke Vander Sanden is one of the most impressive offensive linemen we've had in the program. Despite the injuries last year, when he was in the lineup we were much better. We all know about Aaron Brant. He's young, never played and needs to step it up.

"We have more options, there is more depth and there are more possibilities. TeBrink has really looked good in the short time he's been there. We moved him the night Montgomery got hurt. Hopefully we'll get him some playing time, along with Collin Menard and the other backups that are in there."

On timetable for Montgomery's return:

"I really can't say, just because of the nature of the injury. It's been a difference of weeks with individual players with surgery like that – putting the pin in – and how much difference there can be. I know he's not going to play the first couple of games, but beyond that I don't know. If toughness and want to has anything to do with it, he'll be back a lot sooner than most people are. It's very realistic he'll be back for the Big 12 season, but prior to that it's week to week."

on Austin Flynn:

"He's smart, sharp, articulate and is a winner. Both of his parents are coaches and that helps, but that's not any guarantee that he's going to go out and play well. He and Waye Terry have had very productive camps. Both of them have improved immensely over the spring. A lot of it is having a better understanding of what they're doing. There are no cards up in front of their faces to look at and run a play. You've got to learn our offense and system."

On emergence of Matt Scherbring:

"He's just come on. That's a tough position in there. He didn't spend a lot of time in Ames. He was here for a little bit of the summer. He has gotten in better practice condition and game condition as two-a-days rolled on. I really like the way that he's worked. Nick Leaders played in there 270 pounds last year. I'm not going to say Matt Scherbring is going to be a freshman All-American like Nick was last year, but he's 322 pounds and is not a big body in there trying to plug a hole. He's got good feet.

"One of the decisions we wanted to make through camp was to make sure he could play defense, because I know he could play offensive line. Does he have the quickness, agility and athleticism to play defense for his future to be there on that side of the ball? In the last week he has probably made the most improvement of any of those young kids."

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