Kirk Ferentz: We will know more as we go along. He is diabetic and that is a very serious disease. I think everybody's interest and approach right now is what do we need to do today to make sure we are not making things worse. That is the reason he was hospitalized and they are going to make sure we are staying on top of it. Football is secondary in this equation. I don't know if we are talking days or weeks. No one does. Whenever he is ready to come back we will get him back and go. In the mean time we will proceed without him.
Q: Was it back issues?
Ferentz: Yeah. He has had a cast on 11 of the last 14 months. It all started with the toe amputated last July. As you know, he hit the wall after the Michigan State game and it hasn't gone away. At this point, he won't coach this week and I am hopeful we get him back as soon as possible.
Q: Did you have a plan in place coming into the year maybe not knowing if he might be gone for a time?
Ferentz: We are going back to 2004 with this..it would be silly if I hadn't given it some thought. We have all been prepared for either case. It's like when a player gets hurt; you push through. All of us most concerned about him being healthy and secondly on our wish list is getting him back as fast as possible. We will not compromise one for the other. Whenever he gets back, whether its days, weeks or months or a year...I dont think we are talking about that, but that is what it will be.
Q: Will he take part in game planning?
Ferentz: I don't think so this week.
Q: How important is he in that regard?
Ferentz: He is our coordinator. He has done a lot for our program from a defensive standpoint. He has made a million contributions and not just in football. It's like losing a star player. But when you lose one, someone has to step up and we have a lot of capable people here and we will all pitch in and get it done.
Q: How much help is it having veteran defensive players?
Ferentz: It's important on every level. We have a veteran group on the field, which is important and we have a veteran staff too. We won't have any excuses for not playing well this week. Norm would be the first guy to tell you. He was there...I take it back...He missed that 2004 game. We were laughing about that yesterday as a matter of fact. He has been here for some wins and losses and we are better with him, I know that. We will be fine.
Q: You looked pretty sharp the first two games, perhaps more so than past teams early on. What do you attribute that to?
Ferentz: I have thought about that a little and if I had to pinpoint it, I would say our veteran players. They have done a good job of leading this team. They have another challenge this week. Our veterans are really invested and I think they know what is in front of us right now, too. Hopefully they will keep helping the tempo go the right way.
Q: Has Marcus Zusevics been what you thought he would be?
Ferentz: He has done a nice job. I would say about the group collectively and him individually, I am a coach...I always expect the worst. He has practiced well and what we are seeing in practice is coming over to game day. I think he had a false start the other day and that is the most glaring mistake he has made in two weeks. He works hard and competes well.
Q: How about James Ferentz?
Ferentz: He is doing a good job too. I lump all three of the new guys together; they are all doing some good things out there. All of them have some things to work on and improve upon. They have blown a couple of plays, but for the most part they are working hard. Just gauging them compared to other guys in their first starts, things are positive.
Q: With those three making their first road starts, what do you tell them?
Ferentz: Same thing as the entire team. You have to concentrate harder, it will be noisier. On the road your focus has to be sharper because its more hostile. Outside of that it's still football. With Arizona, we know what they are going to do for the most part and they know the same for us. I don't see them changing their scheme because they have been successful. We have a good idea what is front of us. That is good news and bad news.
Q: Is this a product of looking over at Clayborn and Klug in practice every day?
Ferentz: No question about that. they have been hardened up a little bit. It hasn't been pretty in practice a lot of the time. That is a tough group to compete against every day. There is a residual effect of getting better. Steel sharpens steel. Those guys will bang you around a little bit. that is a good thing.
Q: Is this the game where you found out last year what you had in Riley?
Ferentz: I was a little nervous going into Ames a year ago, with Riley's first start. We had a few land mines blow up that week. That was his first start and then he competed well against Arizona and was most impressive going on the road at Penn State in a real tough environment. We had a good feeling about him going into the year. It worked out and that is what is happening this year on the line, so far so good.
Q: Brett Morse is almost like an offensive lineman.
Ferentz: He might as well be, right? He is like a lineman in that his efforts are unsung. That is not a glamor position by any stretch. It's a position for a mentally tough individual. He displayed that early in his career. That is an integral position in our offense and he has done a great job with it. He has a little personality to him, too. That is a good thing. Fullbacks should add some of that to the team and he does that.
Q: Isolation blocks, one on ones...do you have to have a lot of faith in a fullback?
Ferentz: That is what fullbacks do. If they can't handle that they won't be on the field. He has done a nice job. Not bad for a former quarterback. He has overcome his past to become a football player now.
Q: Has Julian stepped up?
Ferentz: I think he has. If we are going to have a good team we need our experienced guys to play better. Julian and Riley fit in that category and they are doing a good job like a lot of our veteran players. This will be a test this week.
Q: What were the Stoops brothers like as football players?
Ferentz: All three had different personalities. The common denominator of all three on the field was they were all smart players. I am guessing they would describe themselves as being on the small side and not the fastest, but they were heady and fearless out there. I remember Bob..he jumped out at me right away. He was like a coach on the field. Mike was an emotional guy and the play I remember with him, he and John Frank meeting on a hashmark in 1983. He was running a seam route and boom..that was one of the most tenacious hits I have seen in Kinnick. Mark, I missed the brunt of his career. I remember him sitting with Bill Brashier and Bill saying later on, if it wasn't a Stoops I would have thought I was talking to a 14 year old kid and he was a senior in high school. He had a great career. They were all smart players, not just good players.
Q: Could you see a coach in those guys?
Ferentz: You could. Their dad was a coach, their older brother Ron is still coaching. They are from a football family in that regard. Bob and Mike both served on the staff here after they got done playing before they moved off to their various stops.
Q: Is safety innate? One position on the field that has to tow the line between total abandon and using the brain?
Ferentz: You have to have both brawn and brain. Our system is different than the 80's but there are parallel's between what Norm and Bill did. Safety is very important.
Q: You have done it with every shape and size
Ferentz: They come in all...we seem to favor walk ons. I won't so favor, but there is a high percentage. Pagel, Considine and Greenwood. I don't know how many years of starting that is.
Q: Did you think Tanner Miller in that mold?
Ferentz: We hope so. time will tell
Q: What did you see in him?
Ferentz: He is a good all around athlete. Since he has been here, we have seen a guy that is focused, attentive and cerebral maybe. He studies and works at it. It's a little bit of a quarterbacking type of position.
Q: He is another player you got on Monday before signing day
Ferentz: Maybe we should have made him a walk on, he might be starting then.
Q: You mentioned over confidence as part of the 2004 problem...sluggish due to late start?
Ferentz: I don't think so. That is an excuse. We were full of ourselves. That is my fault.
Q: Your routine isn't drastically different?
Ferentz: Outside of a half hour, it's 30 minutes different than what we did at Penn State. To me is guys sleeping in on Saturday morning. Most college students I know are good at that.
Ferentz: If I saw it going in I would like to think I could have done something. I didn't see it I guess. I saw it afterwards though.
Q: Belichick screwed that up in 04
Ferentz: Vrabel accused him of that. It must have been a good talk, he said. I told Bill to tell Vrabel that I played it again before the Ohio State game in 2004. We are not going to have any guest speakers on Saturday.
Q: When are you flying out, any change to that routine?
Ferentz: No, Friday we will get there at 3pm their time and walk through the stadium, have a quick meeting, feed them and send them out of there.
Q: Any thoughts about coming in a day early?
Ferentz: I thought about it then I came to my senses. We did consider coming on Thursday. But I think we are better off staying in our routine, that was my conclusion. We will be fine. That is not going to be the reason we lose if we lose.
Q: Did you talk to anyone about it? Doctors say it takes one day per time zone to get adjusted.
Ferentz: When I was in the NFL ,we did it both ways. My scientific study, there is absolutely no science to it. What is more important is your frame of mind, the team's frame of mind and the attitude we take. We will focus more on that then time zones.
Q: Did you see Tony Moeaki last night?
Ferentz: I saw him catch an option route in the fourth quarter. I heard he had a touchdown.
Q: So you didn't see him spike it?
Ferentz: I didn't see that. He is a pro he can do whatever he wants now. Good for him.