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November 5, 2012

Bryan Harsin

Q.  A few weeks ago it seemed like the sky was falling around here.  Now how does it feel to be on cloud nine these last three weeks?
COACH HARSIN:  Well, I wouldn't say either one, necessarily, is the case.  I think right now what we talked about with our team and what we have to do and where we're at is just about getting better.  We played some games.  We haven't played our best.  We played some games where we fought through, and scratched and clawed, and we played some games that we executed very well.
Week to week it gets tougher and tougher.  From our mindset, it's just about getting better.  Understanding that each opponent we play is going to get better, tougher, harder.  That's really what we're just talking about week to week.  All we have to worry about is us improving and doing our jobs.  That gives us the best chance to go out there and win a game.

Q.  I talked to Mike Davis.  He said his heros are Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan.  His first love and passion, he said, was basketball.  You see his basketball hops in his spectacular catches, and do you see a little Magic and Jordan in him?
COACH HARSIN:  I see Magic in him.  I can say that.  I see Magic in him.  One thing Mike has done this year, we've thrown him some balls that he's gone up and gotten.  That one David threw there the last touchdown pass was one that Mike continued on his route.  The DB played it well and was in position, and he had to throw it deeper in the right spot.  He had to throw it a little bit deeper where only Mike could get it.  Mike went up and got it, and high pointed it.
I think that's something Coach White is always talking about with those wide receivers.  We're going to give you an opportunity on the throw, and that's what we tell the quarterbacks, give them a chance.  That means put it on them.  When we do that, your ball skills take over.  It's much like basketball, going up, getting the ball.  That's what it is.
You see he's got great body control and an awareness to go up and do that.  He's shown it in several games.  But those attributes from playing basketball and things like that, it does show up in other sports like football and what he's doing at wide receiver and the way he's playing right now.  He's playing at a very high level.  We want him to continue to do that.  He's done that because he's worked hard.  He's done that because he's prepared hard and his mind has been right.  If he continues to do that, then hopefully we see the same things in the future games.

Q.  A lot of talk has been about trying to play more physical and getting more physical as the year has gone on.  Is this Iowa State team kind of the ultimate test of physicalness?
COACH HARSIN:¬† Yeah, absolutely.¬† We know this from playing them last year.¬† I got to see those guys firsthand.¬† I know they pride themselves on the toughness they play on defense.¬† Their front seven, those guys have no bones about coming up and trying to stop you in the run game and playing physical at all.¬† They do that.¬† We watched them in the Oklahoma game, and I thought their guys up front played well.¬† They hit them on some throws down the field.¬† But it was tough sledding running the ball on those guys because of the way the D‑line was playing.
The linebackers, I thought played very well in that game.  So we understand that's going to be physical.  No different than what we've seen in previous games.  But these guys bring a very tough front seven.  We have to understand that and make sure we go out there this week in practice.  Don't take anything for granted.  We know what we're getting into.  Those guys will come hit you in the mouth, and we have to be ready for it.

Q.  Last week a lot of talk surrounded the quarterback controversy.  Can you just talk about David pushing through that and playing as well as he did on Saturday?
COACH HARSIN:  Yeah, I think none of that came within, internally.  David knew in the previous game it wasn't his best game, and we had to do something in that game to win the game.  And Case came in and was fantastic.  And David's played well this year.
So all it was was do what you've done.  Go back and do your job.  That's been our motto in our room, do your job.  This is what you have to do this week in order to do it.  I thought David in the game, I thought he threw very confidently.  I thought he threw on time.  I thought he knew exactly where he wanted to go with the football on his throws and made some very good decisions in there.
That's what he's done.  It hasn't been anything different, he just went and did his job, basically, and played well, and prepared well.  So when he does those things and the guys around him with protection and the wide receivers and everybody else continues to do their jobs and we have big play opportunities, that gives the quarterback more confidence out there.  Some of the throws we hit to Mike, when you do that, you feel pretty good throwing the ball back there.  And I think that's what helped him in this game.

Q.  Coach Brown said this is the best game you've played all year as a team.  Do you wish you could bottle up what you did against Tech and keep it going?  What do you tell the guys to keep that confidence and keep the ball rolling?
COACH HARSIN:  He's right as far as the whole team win.  I know there are segments of games that we have played better offensively and defensively and all that.  But when we were down in the third quarter and we weren't doing much, the defense was out there playing hard and holing those guys and getting us the chance to get ourselves regrouped for the fourth quarter.  So that's what he's talking about.  We played off each other.  We fed off each other and believed in each other.
I think that is the funnest part about being a part of a football team or any team in general, is when you have that type of camaraderie.  One side, hey, we'll pick it up.  Hey, figure it out.  We'll do our jobs.  You guys get yourselves back on track, whatever it is.
That's why it felt so good at the end of the game, because that's exactly what happened.  Defense was down there and they drove down, and Carrington blocks the field goal.  That was the spark that ignited us to get ourselves going and go down there and score and put some points on the board.  So that's fun to be a part of.
We continue to play like that, it's not perfect by any means, but we play like that on both sides of the ball, and we have a chance to continue to be successful.

Q.  How pleased are you with the Johnathan Gray, not just his overall play, but especially on that final drive the way he was able to keep pounding it?
COACH HARSIN:  Yeah, I think Johnathan's gotten better week to week.  He's prepared more.  He's had more opportunities and he's taken advantage of those.  That's what anybody that plays, when they have an opportunity to take advantage of it, and he's continued to do that.  He needs to have that mindset this week in practice.  Take advantage of your opportunities, be prepared, and do your job.
The last drive there, we ran several plays over and over in that drive.¬† The O‑line, fullbacks, tight ends, wide receivers then Jonathan, everybody, just the way they finished the game is something that we talk about on a weekly basis.¬† That's what we want to be able to do.¬† That one actually happened.
You can see the guys.  I think they were excited that the way we were finishing the game was what we had discussed and what we've always wanted to do.  So I think that was motivating for everybody.  And Jonathan just capped it off by running hard, finding holes and making those plays more explosive and even better, and getting guys more excited.

Q.  You talked after the Tech game and you said that you saw some stuff that could make you take some chances earlier in the game.  And you said you need to set those plays up.  How much of a balance is there between looking at what the other team will give you, and on the other hand saying this is who we are, we're going to take chances regardless?
COACH HARSIN:  I think in this game that's pretty much what we said.  We're going to take those shots.  We had those built into our opening calls.  Based off of we had played them in the past, different coordinator, but we had played against them so our chance to look at our game and what we had done and what they were looking at.  We felt like we had some opportunities in what we had done in previous games to set some of those throws up and we did.
Just to have some opportunities to take some throws down the field.  We felt like in practice that week that we were throwing the ball well and getting open in those routes in practice.  They looked good.  So as the week goes on, I look at what plays are successful during that week of practice and try to put those in the opening plays and say, all right, we're going to get the ball to this guy, this guy, this guy.  We're going to take these type of chances.  We're going to set these plays up for the looks down the road in the game.  It happened to work out in our favor.
We hit some of those big shots and those big plays are huge, those big chunks.  That's what you want to do.  When you can run the ball and hit big chunk yardage plays, it opens up a lot of things.

Q.  Coach, I know you know you work alongside a legend here in Coach Applewhite and he's going into the hall of honor this week.  But did you say, Coach, you work on your hall of honor duties, and I'll take the coaching duties?
COACH HARSIN:  That's exactly what I told him.  He asked me.  Can I just work on my speech this week?  No (laughing).  We talked about that.  It's a great honor.  Obviously, he does a tremendous job with our backs, with our offense, and recruiting.  There are a lot of opportunities he does a tremendous job with.  What he did in the past and he did as a player, you can see why he was successful working with him as a player, because a lot of things just make sense.  He makes it make sense, so I know that's what helps those running backs when they get out there and play.  Why they play well is because he does a great job coaching those guys up.

Q.  Do you have any memories of watching Major?
COACH HARSIN:  Oh, yeah, I remember.  I remember watching Texas football.  I remember Major Applewhite, I remember Chris Simms.  I remember that whole going back and forth there.  I remember Ricky Williams, the touchdown run he had for the record.  I remember watching a lot of Texas football, and specifically Major Applewhite is not a common name, so that's something when you hear that you know that.
Playing quarterback in college myself, you hear Major Applewhite and it's like all right.  That's a different name there, and they're playing at Texas, so you watch those guys and follow them a little bit.  It's fun to kind of go back and relive that a little bit.

Q.  Are you in the Boise Hall?

Q.  Is this Iowa State team easier to go after now that they've lost one of their top linebackers?
COACH HARSIN:  Not at all.  As a matter of fact, the linebacker that replaced him, No. 52 had 17 tackles in the Oklahoma game.  So in my opinion, they just reloaded is what they did.  There was really no dropoff.
When they came in and played, he was all over the field in the games.  We all feel like he's just watching him out there and watching that line backing crew and that front seven.  Those guys are good as anybody we played against.  We flew around out there and watching our game and how physical and some of the breaks that we got that could have gone the other way, you look at those things too.  Hey, we didn't have this guy covered up, we just happened to slip out of it?  Could they make that play this year?  Yeah, they could make that play.
So we have to do a better job of making sure we have guys covered up and getting on guys like we did last year, because they're playing at a high level.  Those guys are making plays.  That's what the front seven did.

Q.  Now that you're getting Malcolm Brown back, where do you hope to get him in the offense and how do you expect to use him?
COACH HARSIN:  I think that will be determined throughout the week.  But the one thing in this game, guys get dinged up.  Then you have guys that come in and carry the flag.  When they come back, they have to work themselves back in there.  So he knows that and he has to do that.
He's a guy that's played and been successful for us.  He's going to have his opportunities.  Have them this week in practice and take advantage of them.  Get back in there, get in the mix, run hard, see the holds.  Get your feet wet again and get going.  He did last week, and he'll be ready to go this week.
As we get our packages put together, Malcolm looks great.  Let's do this, this, and this.  Joe's doing this.  Johnathan's doing this, and so on and so forth.  You mix it up with those guys so they can get in there and have opportunities.  That is the one thing about having some really good players at one position.
It's a good thing as a coach.  You have those guys back there and you don't have any dropoff.  But you've got to make sure you find ways to get them in the game.  At the same time you're still giving those guys opportunities to get into a rhythm.
Talking about Johnathan, and that is the one thing he was able to do in the game.  He got into a rhythm.  And at the end of the game, some of the plays we were running over and over, he started seeing it, seeing it better and knew how it was going to develop from the first run, to the second run, to the third run, and so on.

Q.  Did you see Coach Brown a lot toward the end of the game or hear him on the head set?  On TV he was really excited.  More excited than we've seen him in a long time.  Did you see that?  He kind of down played it.
COACH HARSIN:  I think it's what he said.  We were all excited.  Just the way that the game unfolded, the way that we won the game.  I think as a head coach, when you see your team on both sides of the ball play as hard as we did, we played hard.  Not perfect, but we played hard.  When you see that, you're proud and happy with that.  You're happy with it.
You see all the work in practice and all the things you've talked about, it all comes together.  It's just general excitement of just seeing your team come together that way.  We were all excited.
I think the staff, the players, we all could feel that.  Both sides, special teams with the blocked field goal, everybody was playing hard.  The guys were just out there fighting and finishing the game.

Q.  Mack has been under fire during the week.  Could you sense that at all, and did you see it affecting him at all, and maybe that's part of the reason he was so happy?
COACH HARSIN:¬† No, I don't.¬† You're right.¬† We do stay in our own world.¬† We have 150‑some people involved in the football program, and he's the one that's got to keep all of that together and make sure everybody's doing their jobs.¬† I think the excitement is exactly what I said before is seeing the team go out there and just play the way they played and overcome some adversity that we faced in that game.¬† Because when you looked at it, it's not perfect, but we did play hard.¬† That's what's exciting for all of us as coaches and players to see that happen.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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