Dec 18, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Oregon Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal (center) and Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scot during the trophy presentation after the Pac-12 Championship against the Southern California Trojans at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Oregon defeated USC 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The following quotations are excerpts of thoughts on Iowa State from Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal’s time with the media on Tuesday ahead of Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl tilt between the Ducks and Cyclones at 3 p.m. central time in Glendale, Az.
Q. As you’ve seen on film, what’s one of the challenges that this Iowa State team will give you on Saturday?
CRISTOBAL: There’s a number of them. I’m, by nature, an offensive line coach, so I’ve spent a lot of time on that side of the ball but, of course, have to jump around with my obligations as a head coach.
What stands out is the physicality of their team overall, and that physicality is matched by talent. Sometimes teams are one or the other. They try to find ways to compensate.
Iowa State is a complete football team. They knock you back at the line of scrimmage, their front seven. They play in sync. They understand their techniques. They’re extremely fundamental. They’re technically sound. They come out of their hips. They play with great leverage and get their hands inside on you. They control blockers. They strike blockers. They cover you. They’ve got great eye discipline. You don’t see them in getting caught with poor eye discipline and giving up few explosive plays. When they strike, they get there with intention to make you feel that they’re a physical football team.
On the flip side, besides the personnel, besides having the best back in college football, it’s complemented by a great quarterback and a great system with this monstrous-looking tight ends that master offensive line physicality, that get in multiple sets, misplaced personnel, shifts and motions and complemented by big speed, big, big speed and explosive guys outside.
So, look, when you have a team like that, that has so many things, your fundamentals, your technique, your rules, your eye discipline, and then playing extremely high-level communicating on a down-by-down basis. All of those things come into play.
You have to play your best, and you have to play a complete football game. Because if you do, if you do allow for kinks and chinks in your processes, you’ll get exposed. That’s why preparation continues to get better as the year goes on, but the approach of our players being so thorough with what they’ve been doing. They’re well aware of the football team we’re playing out there.
Q. You gave a nice summary there of a lot of the good things that Iowa State is doing. I’m assuming you haven’t had any problem getting across to your players how good of a team this is, even though they typically haven’t gotten to this high of a bowl game. And then can you also talk about what Matt Campbell has done to get Iowa State to this point to play in a New Year’s Six bowl.
CRISTOBAL: Any time you have an opportunity to play a Top-10 team, it doesn’t take much to understand. And Top 10 probably doesn’t do them justice, the way they have played all year, the way they have built the program around Coach Campbell’s culture. The standard they hold themselves to is very impressive.
We’ve watched them. I’m a huge fan of college football in general. I’m always watching tape. I’m always watching film. I’m always watching as much footage as I can from other programs because you always a chance to learn and maybe apply things that can help your program as well.
I’m extremely impressed with what they have done, what they are continuing to do. And our players fully understand that this is the best football team we have played and that their best football is ahead of them, too. So everyone is really looking forward to this opportunity.