Iowa State head football coach Paul Rhoads was absent from today’s weekly press conference. Rhoads was busy attending a funeral so assistant coach Bill Bleil stepped up to the plate.
Here’s a complete transcript of what went down.
Opening Statements In looking back against Oklahoma State, I don’t believe that anybody feels we played up to expectations. Although, I don’t think that you can take anything away from them. They were probably the best team that we have played to date. They’re very balanced on both sides of the ball. They’re probably not getting the respect that they deserve nationally yet. I think that they will. Defensively, I watched them going into the game. They were very aggressive. They were very fast. Bill Young is one of the best coordinators in the country, without a doubt. Offensively, everybody knows how good they have been and how good they are. In retrospect, we probably did not play as well as we would have liked to.
Colorado is a very good team, a very sound team. I think that over the last couple of weeks, they’ve shown that they can play with anybody in the country. They had a great win last week. We’re very impressed. Obviously I don’t get to watch them on offense but we’re very impressed with them on defense. They run very well in the secondary. They are very physical. They were very physical with Texas. They were very physical with the upper teams that they have played to this date. They are a very good football team that is coming in this weekend.
After the game on Saturday, Reggie Stephens said that the offensive line didn’t play very well. What did you see on film?
BB: I think he is right on. We probably played the poorest game we have played to date, for whatever reasons. I think that Oklahoma State’s defensive line was very athletic. We probably played better on film than I thought we played during the day, during the game. But not nearly good enough to win that game.
Oklahoma State was obviously good but what are some of the things that your unit needs to work on.
BB: Well I think that a lot of it is the fact that Reggie is probably our leader out there every day. He didn’t practice much until Wednesday. I don’t care how good you are. You need to practice. You need to practice fast. Coming off of an appendectomy, I just don’t think that he had enough reps and I think he’ll be the first to tell you that he didn’t play very well and we just need to play more physical. We need to play more vertical and we’ve got to give A-Rob more running lanes.
How much did Austen practice last week?
BB: He practiced quite a bit. He really did. We had to be a little bit careful but he hadn’t thrown the ball many times and we had to kind of keep a pitch count on him because when you don’t throw the ball for a lot of weeks, you’re going to wear that arm out pretty dang fast. Repetition wise, we kept his numbers down a little bit. Obviously is out there seeing things and the game goes fast. Again, you’ve got to practice. There are very few people out there who can go and not practice and not have first team reps and practice fast and be very good on Saturday.
Was there a concern about running him too much and getting that hand hit?
BB: You are exactly right. There was concern for Austen and reality after he took that first hit, I think his concerns were out. He got hit on the hand and he was fine. To be honest with you, he is a very tough individual. He is a physical football player and I think that he did a great job from that point on. We went into a hurry-hurry mode in the second half. I think that you saw some nice drives. He had one ball that he would like to have back. I think he got better in the second half.
How do you guys get more points on the board from here on out?
BB: Consistency with the group that we are putting on the field. I think that the 11 people we are putting on the field, that thing has kind of been in turmoil. It hasn’t been the same group for about four weeks now. Hopefully we’re kind of over that. We’re over the sickness. We’re over the emergency appendectomies. We’re over the broken hands or bruised hands. We can move forward.
At the beginning of the season, Mike Brandtner was extremely consistent. Lately, he hasn’t been as solid. Is there some concern there?
BB: I think that he is one of the better punters in the country. He has had a couple that have come off of the side of his foot in the last two or three games but you know, his consistency will come back. He’s still one of the best that I’ve ever been around. I tell you, he’ll come back. He’ll snap back.
In your mind, what is the biggest difference in playing a North team as compared to a South team?
BB: I think that you can see throughout the country the differences. The North teams are going to play a little more physical football. The South teams are probably surrounded with more skill kids than the northern teams. Because of the proximity of the programs, that’s who you are going to recruit and that’s how you are going to build your program. Obviously, we are going to try to get physical linemen to have a controlled running game and be able to stay on the field. Some of the teams in the south who are going to be surrounded by more skill kids are probably going to build their programs more like that.
Are A&M and Oklahoma State faster than any teams that you’ve played in the North?
BB: They will be as fast as any team in the North, yes.
What does Jesse Smith mean to this team?
BB: He has been around here a long time. Obviously, he is a very good football player. The history on him is great. He’s a kid who walked on here to become a very good football player. He’s a good husband. He’s a good student. There are a lot of positives about him.
How has Kelechi played this year?
BB: He has probably been our most productive football player this year. He plays hard. He is very young, yet, from a football standpoint, this is really his first year playing a lot of reps. He plays hard. He plays very aggressive. He’s got a lot of future with two years left after this year. I like a little trimmer offensive lineman than we have here and we’ll keep working in the future to get those guys down a little bit. Kelechi gets better every week. That happens with young football players. The more reps they get, the better they are. He’s very physical. He’s still learning.
Does Reggie have a career after this?
BB: I think he does. There have been a lot of scouts who have come through and really liked him. I think that he is going to have to do very well in the combines. I think that he is going to have to do well in the East-West game. I think it is all in front of him. It is up to him. He’s a very good football player and one of the best offensive linemen I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach.