Here’s half of what Iowa State football coach Paul Rhoads had to say when he met with members of the media on Monday Morning.
How do you think Jeremiah Schwartz performed?
PR: I think that he did well. I think that he ran hard. Yards were hard to come by in that game against a very stout defense, against an outstanding defense. As we’ve learned with Alexander in the offense, the more you play, the more reps you get, the better you hit and set up certain plays. Jeremiah just hasn’t gotten those physical snaps so there was yardage left behind, just because of that. Alexander is our number one running back for a reason. He’s better than the other guys. The experience that he’s gotten at this point also helps him in production and yardage as well.
What’s the deal with James Smith?
PR: He does miss a half because he was ejected in the second half of the football game. He sits out the remainder of the game that he is ejected and then the first half of the next game.
Injuries were big last week, it turned out that sickness was as well. How’s that going?
PR: It’s moving through campus and certainly through the athletic department and our football team. What’s gone today, might be back tomorrow with another whole group. We had several players who did not even practice yesterday. We just sent them home for rest. I would anticipate all of those guys who were affected on Saturday in Lincoln and yesterday in practice to back with us on Tuesday when we move forward with the rest of the week. What was practice like yesterday after an emotional win on Saturday?
PR: We changed nothing. We thought about it, I thought about it on our bus ride home Saturday. When we got back and looked at the film, after playing only 60-some snaps each offensively and defensively, we didn’t think that a change was necessary. On Sundays, we have what is referred to as a development part of our practice. We take our red-shirts and players who aren’t playing as much and they get after it. We changed some of the guys who did that because they had to take the place of others and the rest of our practice in preparation for A&M. The number of sprints we did, the number of minutes we practiced, we didn’t change a thing. How many guys on your team have actually been affected by the flu?
PR: Just in the last week probably eight to 10, by my count is what we were dealing with. Was Saturday’s game a watershed game? Would you use that word?
PR: I’m bad to go with that, as you guys have learned through the first eight. We’ve got five victories and all five of them equal each other. All of them are extremely important. This was a big win. No question about it. To beat a program as rich in tradition as Nebraska and to do it in their stadium, which hadn’t been done by an Iowa State football team since Earl Bruce was the coach in 1977, all of that is history. It’s great history and we’re proud of that. But that will do absolutely nothing for us as we go into the week against Texas A&M. I get asked, well you certainly have more confidence now as a football team? We had a more confident football team after we lost to Kansas State. We had a more confident football team after we lost to Kansas. I think that is a sign of the improvement and growth that we are making overall as a program and certainly, I think we’ll be more confident after this week as we head south to College Station.
Not to keep bringing up the flu, but is it H1N1?
PR: No and the issue with that is whether you get diagnosed with it or not. I believe our student health center is allowed to send the first 10 cases that they get every week into, I don’t even know where it goes. To the state, to some lab, to determine whether it is H1N1 and those 10 are gone like that so we don’t know what particular strain or virus that they have. A good bit of it is cold-like symptoms rather than the flu.
Everybody keeps talking about that postgame locker room video. Can you talk about how emotional that was for you?
PR: It was jubilant for sure. By the time I got there, they were in full swing. They were swinging and singing and enjoying each other. You expend that kind of energy, not just in the football game itself but all week long in your preparation, and you do it for your teammates and you lay it out on the line. And then you’ve got Ter’ran Benton who was in tears because his season is done, two stalls down you got somebody else hanging over a garbage can giving up everything that they have inside of then at that point. Those are the kinds of things that are going on behind the scenes at a football game that you have to run out on the field and give it everything you’ve got, is reason for a celebration after a football game like that. It was certainly very spontaneous and well earned.
When you look at the box score and see that Nebraska committed eight turnovers, you might think that they got a little bit unlucky. But you guys forced the majority of those. Can you talk about that?
PR: They were very opportunistic. In the course of a football game, the opportunities don’t always present themselves to strip a ball out. Our philosophy is that the first guy always secures the tackle, unless he’s coming from behind, and then the next guy is the goal line and you’ve got an opportunity to punch a ball out, and we try to do that. The first guy secures the tackle. The next guys, if they have an opportunity, try to strip the ball out. We were presented with some of those opportunities. I think that we’re a physical football team. A number of those balls that were on the ground were a result of that physical style of play. I think that we’re becoming a smarter football team as games go along. I think that they realize to use the techniques that their coaches have taught them. In hiring Wally Burnham, one of the credentials that his defenses had on his resume that they were a takeaway team. They were a ball-hawking team. Our style of defense allows a number of eyes to be on the ball and puts us in positions to makes interceptions with a number of defenders to the ball carrier in attempt to get the ball out. We were able to capitalize on that Saturday.
When you got here, you talked about how tough practices were going to be. Are the turnovers a result of that?
PR: I think that they are a result of that and I think that the overall physical level of play with our football team is a direct result of that. The past two weeks on Thursdays we have taken the pads off during practice. We just practiced in pads on Tuesday and Wednesday, because of our physical practices that we had. The kids, they give it up. We hit each other on Tuesday and Wednesday. Because of that, on Thursday, we’re able to still practice fast, in preparation for Saturday’s game. That’s the mindset of this group and that’s the mindset of this staff. We don’t allow them to practice any other way. I don’t think that the kids would allow themselves to practice any other way. That’s not the culture of this football team. When you play the game that physical and that fast all of the way through to the echo of the whistle, turnovers are a possibility when the play ends up.