Paul Rhoads met with members of the media earlier today to talk about Iowa State’s upcoming game with Missouri and a whole lot more. Here is part two of this week’s Q&A.
Some of the older guys on this football team have been through a couple of very tough seasons. Now they have a chance to play in a bowl game. What do you attest that to?
PR: They went into the year with that in mind, in preparing and working and playing for that. You don’t magically go out and win football games. You go out and put hours in. I don’t know if the same applies, where you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I think that Wally has done that. Those kids have experienced that. James Smith, who I have talked about before, was I think second on the team in tackles last year. We thought that he was a very poor tackler when we arrived. He has embraced and accepted our form of tackling, as has everyone. Fred Garrin, Josh Raven, Jesse Smith, Nate Frere and going on through everyone in that group on defense and offense. It is fun to see their faces. It is fun to see them work. It is fun to see them celebrate and enjoy the rewards that are going with all of this hard work. I couldn’t be prouder of how much they have bought in and how much they have led this football team.
You have been working some young guys in on defense. How much has this been because of looking ahead to next year?
PR: It’s more about their progress than it is looking ahead. We get the advantage of that as they get game reps and they get experience but that is also the benefit of experience that they have already gained in practice this year and them starting to mature and show up. As young players, some hit very few walls. Some his big walls and slow down. Josh Lenz, who has performed very well for us, he’s hit a little bit of a wall as far as the offensive side of the ball goes. As Jeremy Reeves and Jake Knott improve, Josh has slowed down a little bit. We certainly count on him to show back up and hopefully again this Saturday against Missouri and wherever we go from there. The growth of those kids has certainly been enhanced by the practice work they have received by being in the two-deep.
A lot of people have been commenting about how much they enjoy your demeanor on the sidelines. Where does that come from?
PR: My demeanor certainly hasn’t changed in 21 years. Anyone who was with me that first year or who has been around me during that course of time would tell you that. I have never felt that the players get to have all of the fun. We spend a lot of time too and I think that the enthusiasm, the passion and the emotion spills out when you’re doing your job. One of my favorite coaches of all time, as I grew up a Vikings fan was the stoic Bud Grant. I had the opportunity to meet him this summer. I’d say that we’re on the opposite ends of style.
At the end of the game, you came over to the band. What stopped you from climbing that ladder? That guy leading the band started to come down like you were getting up there.
PR: Well he gave me a nasty look and got mad at me (Rhoads joked). I didn’t have any thought of doing that. As the celebration unfolded, I started to make my customary approach to the student section and there weren’t any students left. There wasn’t anybody there to sing to. The band has done such a fantastic job of adding to the environment for the crowd of leading the crowd and greeting us for every home game as we do our spirit walk. I thought it was a fine tribute to go over and sing to them as we closed it out.