Kirk Ferentz: Penn State has had that for a long time. In the 1980's when Tom Obsorne was at Nebraska, too. Virginia Tech has been pretty settled in as their defensive coordinator has been there. I have been here 21 years and we have had two of the best defensive coordinators that I have worked with at any level. I feel the same way about Ken and Bill Snyder.
Q: You hear about quarterbacks going through multiple coordinators in their career..how much does consistency help a player
Ferentz: It's huge. Stability in the staff is really important. All that being said, it was a great opportunity for Barry Alvarez to leave here. He hoped to be a head coach at some point. Bill had that opportunity. All of us thought Bill was crazy, and we all know he is, but it took a crazy person to do what he did there. He was the right man for the job. I have never been around two finer assistant coaches than Bill Brashier or Carl Jackson so the guys that stayed did well too. It's good for the players and recruits to know what they can count on. People are not going to pull the rug out from underneath you, or that they are not going to have wholesale changes.
Q: How were you able to talk Hunter into coming out here?
Ferentz: I am really not sure. Quite frankly, I thought we were wasting our time, like I thought we were with Mark Ingram. that was a close second and that is no good in recruiting. In Hunter's case he chose here, and I was surprised.
Q: Never pressured him, he said
Ferentz: Why would we? Get him to say no faster? We don't pressure a lot of people.
Q: Gave him space
Ferentz: It's by design. It;s not like we have a lot of leverage out there. Even if we do, I am not big on that. Come here because you want to come here.
Q: Was that Ken?
Ferentz: No, Darrell.
Q: How would you sum up his career..his biggest play was the second blocked field goal last year against UNI
Ferentz: That was pretty big. the best way to sum up his career is that he is well on his way to being a three year starter on a team that has two very good defensive teams and I am hoping this is the third year. So far so good. He has had a really productive career, is a good athlete. It's an important position.
Q: PSU was selling him RB?
Ferentz: I hadn't thought about that. We could have used him last week.
Q: Has your play against Penn State defined your program?
Ferentz: It helped us. I go back to 2000, we were struggling there and any oxygen would have helped and that gave us a little traction as a program and got us going. I think what we learned in that game, if you are going to beat them you have to play your best for the entire game plus overtime. That was a good week. I finally got my contract finalized that Thursday and we went out there and won the game on Saturday. The one two years ago, that was something we needed at that time. To really get back into a zone we want to be in. that helped get us there. We felt pretty good where we were by January 2nd. That was a big, big part of that equation there.
Q: Where does Clayborn's play rate last year?
Ferentz: It's one of those moments. Last year, we knew we had a big road schedule. To win in that arena, a tough place to win at, and a night game...it helped us move on for that year. That play was a huge play in that game. That is the first play that come to mind for all of last season. It gave us the spark we needed. Sort of like Warren's catch of one of Dallas' plays. You need someone to step up sometimes and get something done. A lot of times great players do that. In Warren's case, no one knew him...or like Ramon Ochoa...a short guy who isn't that fast does things that defy logic. You need things like that to get you over the top.
Q: Has there been a lot about Tony's (Moeaki) one handed catch...
Ferentz: I am not going to say I told you so, but it was obvious that he was a good football player here. Anything he does does not surprise us. It's fun to see him. They have a good group of young guys and he is part of that equation that has helped them. That is what it takes, and will for them to get going.
Q: I have seen that you take care of the offensive tackles some.
Ferentz: Yeah I fool around with them a bit.
Q: Where are these guys at now?
Ferentz: They are making progress and playing good solid football. It's like our team; they have a lot of upside. They will continue to improve and they have great attitudes.
Q: Style of play, are they similar? Looks like Riley has really good feet.
Ferentz: He does. Both of them do. We are on the smallish side by Big Ten standards...our guys are linear looking. We think they are both good guys and have done a good job.
Q: Did you find Riley?
Ferentz: Reese had his ear to the ground. It took a while for others to catch on. Reese has a good network. Nebraska got involved late I guess. He had done things off the field too, in wrestling. That piques our attention sometimes.
Q: Markus was not getting as much attention.
Ferentz: I am not even sure Purdue...they might have been. Boston College was fooling around a bit. Maybe Illinois on the back burner. He was a back burner guy for a lot of teams. Gettis had Northern Illinois.
Q: I think he had a family member here (Zusevics)
Ferentz: I think his sister or something like that. He was hoping we would offer him. We thought he might be a center or a guard. We were not sure what he was. He wasn't big at the time, like 220 or 225. Outside of Cervantes he was the first recruit we have had with volleyball experience.
Q: Does anything about the Big Ten surprise you so far?
Ferentz: I haven't paid that close attention. I have watched the scores but...I think Ohio State is pretty good still, right? A lot of teams will be good and it will be interesting to see what happens. I can't get out of the 11:40 conference call without getting a question about Denard Robinson. He looks fast and runs down the field for touchdowns when I see him on ESPN.
Q: How would you assess the defense to this point.
Ferentz: I think they are doing well. Seems like they are.
Q: How do you handle the bye week next week, is it a developmental week?
Ferentz: The first thing is to try to get the guys that have been playing some rest. We have a long season this year. Our first focus is on this week, and once we get into that, get the guys a chance to heal and the older guys, get them some rest and move some younger guys along. Do it in a reasonable schedule...get in and out of the building faster. A chance to get away from football, too. At the end of the week we will give them some time since they won't have any time over Thanksgiving due to our decision making.
Q: Peter King wrote in SI saying that Tony was one of the three most impactful players in your tenure here...
Ferentz: Someone threw that on my desk today. I think I got misquoted on that. I have told people that if you look at the guys we have had come through here, Tony is in that elite category, as far as being an NFL prospect. I would include Marshal Yanda too. I told people he had a funky stance and doesn't look good in shorts, but when you put pads on, the guy is a legit player. People had a hard time getting beyond that and Tony's injuries (grunts).
Q: There have been more than three
Ferentz: Yeah...I'd say at least 8 to 12, in general terms. Guys that have come through here...getting Tony and Marshal in the third round...those are steals. Those are steals. Those are good value picks there.
Q: On Kickoff's Saturday, you looped two guys behind to get a running start, is that a shakeup?
Ferentz: We have been doing that. Sometimes they are back, sometimes on the line. It doesn't change things schematically.
Q: The two closest to the kicker, what are their roles?
Ferentz: In general terms, your bigger guys are in the middle. They are going to have to take on double teams and things like that. Historically, a guy like Matt Roth when he was a freshman, he was one of those middle lane guys. They get smaller and faster towards the outside.
Q: Is it primarily stay in your lane?
Ferentz: Our lanes might not be what they appear to be. We will try to do some things to camouflage. Depending on what they do when the return begins, our guys have keys and have to react and adjust. There is a lot going on, it's not just 10 guys running straight down the field. There is more going on there than just that. It depends on the schemes you decide on that week.
Q: Is that Darrell's area?
Ferentz: Yes, he is our kickoff guy and punt defense.
Q: In retrospect with the road schedule you had last year, how much do you think that galvanized you guys?
Ferentz: It helped last year's team develop. That was the beginning of conference play. It's an eight week schedule. Everything that happens will be significant. If we lose this game, it's not the end of this season but it makes things more difficult. If we win it, it's not a coronation, either. When you can win against a good team and program, anytime that is a positive. If you can do it on their field that is more a positive. It gave us a feeling that we can continue on here and push forward. But we came back the next week against Arkansas State and looked average. It's a week to week thing. But when you can get one on the road that is good.
Q: That had to be one of the tougher environment's you have won in.
Ferentz: It was tough. Our attitude going in, was if you like college football, what an opportunity. It was a great challenge and the white out and the ABC and all of that stuff...it was electric and it will be that way in Kinnick this weekend. Those are fun things. You are no going to win them all, but you want to. It's exciting to be out there in those environments. You can't fear it; you have to embrace it and go.
Q: You fought the not playing on Thanksgiving weekend for a lot of years...Would you rather move the game up a day or two in the future?
Ferentz: If you are ever going to do a short week, it has to be at the end of the season like that. It might be worth a discussion but I don't see what advantage it is. When you get back here, you have class Monday. Without thinking through it I would just as soon keep it on Saturday and keep the routine. We had a Thanksgiving Day game at Cleveland. But it was our 13th game of the year. Pro football is different.
Q: Was there something that DJK did at media day that has had you hold him back with us?
Ferentz: He is choosing to stay out too because he doesn't want to say something to get me ticked off. We are trying to coexist peacefully.
Q: How is your relationship?
Ferentz: It's fine. I enjoy him. He has been a good player.
Q: Have you had a player like him
Ferentz: I don't think so. Can you think of one?
Q: Fred Barr?
Ferentz: Totally different personality. Derrell would be a perfect NFL receiver based on some of the guys that are getting notoriety. He will fit right in if he gets that chance.
Q: This is the game that put Adrian on the map nationally last year, and was a pretty visible the last two games of last year blocking him differently
Ferentz: Yes. Good players draw attention. When you sit down to game plan, you start with the best players. We better know where Royster is at all times this week, first and foremost. If we had Bob Sanders on defense you would want to know where he is lining up. that is what happens with good players. You try to be smart in how you scheme things. You restrict some of their freedoms if you can. It's like being a good hitter and not getting a lot of good pitches to hit. It's a team game and he understands that. Our defense is playing well and that is how Adrian looks out it.
Q: It's a good testament for all 11, if he doesn't have a sack and Sash doesnt have a pick
Ferentz: I didnt know that and stats don't mean much right now. But if you have Pujols, and I am not saying he is that yet, and no one on either side of him, he wont have any pitches to hit. It's the same way. Not that he is getting doubled or tripled every day, but he is drawing a lot of attention. Or the ball comes out quick.
Q: You moved him inside some...
Ferentz: A little. We don't have any radical changes planned.