By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com Publisher
Below is a transcript of Paul Rhoads’ weekly Big 12 teleconference that took place yesterday.
You guys created three turnovers last week against Northern Illinois. Your defenses seem to be good at that. Is that just contagious from year-to-year?
PR: It can be contagious. I don’t know if it strings along from game-to-game or season-to-season but it can be contagious within a single game. Wally Burnham, our defensive coordinators trademark has always been the ability for his defenses to turn the ball over. We were fortunate enough to be able to do that again on Thursday.
I want to put you in the time machine for just a minute coach. This past weekend, we saw a lot of great running games in the Big 12 Conference. It kind of looked like how things were when this conference began. Do you see a comparison there?
PR: I have got to travel back. Nebraska was still at a point in time where they were going to grind it out. I can remember going over to Lincoln where the score was 21 to zip with about 11 minutes to go in the first quarter. Their nose guard was pulling and reaching our five technique and I knew that it was going to be a long, long night. I think that was true of that 95 was the last year of the Big 8. The Big 12 and teams could run the ball with efficiency. I don’t know if that thought crossed my mind this past weekend or not but you’re right, that was indeed the truth.
Did you get to watch any football on Saturday? If so, did you get to see Daniel Thomas and Kendall Hunter’s big games? What are your thoughts on having to prepare for some of these guys this year?
PR: I did get to see a game. I was out junior college recruiting so it was live and in person so I didn’t get to see any da’ gone TV games including our opponent this week. I saw the stats on Kendall Hunter and the impressive game that he had. I also got to see the stats from Daniel Thomas and we were discouraged by that because we have to play him in two weeks. Kendall Hunter, we don’t play Oklahoma State this year so someone else is going to have to try to defend him.
Last year, Austen Arnaud obviously struggled against Iowa. Are you worried at all that he might try to make up for last year by playing out of his comfort zone or something like that?
PR: I am worried. It is the biggest concern going into this game because of his personality, because of his competitiveness. I don’t have any doubts that he is going to prepare thoroughly and efficiently to execute our game plan against one of the top teams in the country. But to get him not to press, to get him to go through his reads and throw balls away when he should as opposed to forcing them, that is a concern as we go into the week. Tom Herman and I have already talked about it. We are going to try to address it in the right manner and get number four ready to go.
What does the Iowa-Iowa State rivalry mean to you and what did you learn coaching in it last year that you will be able to use to help your team on Saturday?
PR: The game is important because it is the in-state rivalry game. It is important to me because I grew up with it. I grew up as a high school player in this state. My dad was a high school football coach in this state. I was a part of the staff that ended a long time losing streak versus the University of Iowa in this game. It is a very important game to me. Rivalry games are important. I am blessed. I have been a part of a number of great rivalry games including Ohio State-Michigan, the Backyard Brawl with Pitt and West Virginia, the Iron Bowl with Auburn and Alabama and this great rivalry so it is exciting to be a part of it and we are looking forward to the game this Saturday afternoon.
What did you take away from the experience last year that you feel will better prepare you?
PR: I think that you have to work hard to keep your team grounded, would be the number one thing I took away from last year’s game. Austen threw a few interceptions and we turned the ball over which dramatically hurt us in the game. I think that you have to go into this and especially on the road, keep your team grounded, focus on execution and one play at a time, hype and sprit and enthusiasm aren’t going to win a game like this. It is execution and precision.