Cory Morrissey isn’t a household name in the Big 12, but the Iowa State defensive end sits alongside Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown atop the sack leaders in the conference with 3.5 sacks. The Cyclones senior took time to chat with ESPN.com about last season's embarrassing 71-7 loss to Baylor, his tribute to former ISU defensive end coach Curtis Bray (who passed away in the offseason) and his potential job of the future.
What’s going to be the key to more success in the future?
Cory Morrissey: Going to work every day, realizing what we need to work on and not accepting defeat. This team is young and they’re showing a lot of guts to get through all this adversity in the beginning, so just constant improvement and learning how to win.
What was the atmosphere like in the week after the season-opening loss to North Dakota State?
CM: Honestly, we got back to work. We knew what we could have done, we saw the mistakes and worked on fixing those mistakes.
You’ve been productive. How do you feel about your play?
CM: There’s always something you can do better. I have to keep improving, keep going and I can’t hang my hat on anything. I have to keep improving.
Heading into the season did you have anything in particular you wanted to show you’ve improved in the offseason?
CM: Pass rush, my speed and my strength.
What have been some of your favorite things about playing for Paul Rhoads?
CM: His passion and intensity. What he brings to coaching us in the game, he’s a great leader, great motivator. I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want to play for Coach Rhoads.
You changed your number for Coach Bray. How often do you think about him, and is there anything he said that sticks with you?
CM: Everyday I put the number on, put the jersey on, it’s a reminder of what I have to do that day and I have to go to work for him and his legacy. There’s not one thing that sticks out, but just remembering his coaching and his coaching points. I just use that every day.
You have a big-time offense coming in this week with Baylor. When you look at last year, did you just burn that tape and not look at it or use it as motivation?
CM: We definitely look back and are reminded of the embarrassment we went through with that loss and how different this team is that is coming in this week for us to prepare for.
Was that the biggest low or disappointment as far as a game in your football career?
CM: Definitely 71-7. I’ve never been in a situation like that.
What was it like watching that film? Did it feel like you weren’t watching yourselves? “Who are these guys?”
CM: It was definitely a different team. That game we came out, there was no energy, we knew Baylor was good, we accepted defeat from the beginning. There wasn’t really any fight back. We were just out there playing.
Has that, in any way, helped you this season?
CM: We learned what works and what doesn’t work and how leadership should lead. Learning from last year’s mistakes has continued to progress into this year. Knowing how the team’s attitude was last year in situations, we’ve tried to change it around.
What’s going to be the key to success against Baylor on Saturday?
CM: We have to do everything right. We have to fit the right gaps, stop the run and against their passing game have great coverage. We just have to do everything right. We can’t make mistakes.
Being a veteran on the defense, will you monitor things early on confidence-wise to make sure guys don’t get down early in the game if something happens?
CM: Yeah. Against Kansas State and Iowa we had adversity and we’ve been down and we fought through it. The leadership on this team, we have a lot of guys that won’t let that get in the way. It’s a football game, we’re going to do both ways at times. We just have to push through the adversity.
If you didn’t play football what would you be doing?
CM: I’d be a stuntman, body builder in California.
What makes you interested in that?
CM: My uncle is one, he lives the life.
So you already have an in?
CM: Yes, someone who could train me, but I already tell him I can do his job better than him. He’s getting old.
So that’s something you’d look at in the future?
CM: You never know, I could go down that road. Looks fun to me.