OPENING STATEMENT: First of all, we're extremely pleased about the outcome of the game. This is a game that I was really concerned about. I have a great deal of respect for Miami. It was a very tough preparation on both sides (of the ball) because of the veteran offense that they have, an outstanding quarterback, one of the top players in the country. Then on the defensive side, we really weren't quite sure what we really were going to get. We didn't know if we'd get what we saw from Miami a year ago or what Northern Illinois had done last year (RedHawk D coordinator Pat Narduzzi coach in DeKalb in '02). We tried to prepare for both, and we guessed wrong in some cases.
But the good news is that our players did a good job of adjusting. There were a lot of loose ends out there. There were a lot of things that we need to get better at. Otherwise, I was extremely pleased with our guys. I thought they played extremely hard. I thought they played tough and physical and I thought they played as a team out there. So, I'm just very, very pleased about that. It's a great way to start our season. We have a lot of work to do. We knew we would. We'll get back to that (on Sunday). We're going to relax tonight a little bit.
QUESTIONS FROM THE MEDIA:
Can you talk about your defensive backs, specifically Jovon (Johnson) and Antwan (Allen) and how they stepped up?
KF: We had confidence coming in that we'd better at corner this year. You looked at Antwan, he was a freshman at this time last year. He's got some experience. Jovon gained some very valuable experience last year with a couple of starts and playing a lot in our nickle package. We thought that those guys would make some plays for us. That was really big for us. It was great to see our safeties Chris (Smith) and Sean (Considine) get involved in some picks. But again, it's a team thing. The guys up front did a great job of harrassing, getting pressure, working very hard. Pass rushing is hard work. So, it all pulled together. We gave up more yardage than you would like and let them out of their end a couple of times. We didn't control field position quite the way you would like. But overall, I can't be unhappy. I'm really pleased with the way our guys worked.
Bob (Sanders) did not start. What's up with that?
KF: Bob and Edgar (Cervantes) both missed probably more practice time over the last 10 days than I am comfortable with in terms of being ready to go. We just made that decision. We're hopeful that maybe we can get both of those guys in there next week. I'm hoping that's what happens.
What were your impressions of (Iowa starting quarterback Nathan) Chandler?
KF: I was very pleased. The worst play that he had was the one turnover (fumble). That's one thing that's just paramount for us. It's been a progressive thing. We broke even two years ago in the turnover battle, then last year made a major jump. Today, I think we came out 4-1. So, if he would have just protected on that one, it would have made me feel a little better. But overall, he made some good decisions. He got rid of the ball when he had to, and didn't hurt us that way. And at times, I thought he looked very good. At times, he looked like a first-time player. I think part of that might have been the preparation. We weren't quite sure what we were going to get out of (Miami). But, I was very, very pleased with him. I think it's a great start, just like I felt the same way for our offensive football team.
Were you satisfied with the offensive line?
KF: Not satisfied, but again that was a tough game for them. They had a lot of dogs and stunts going on that are tough in the running game especially. It would have been a little easier if this had been a midseason game from just a preparation standpoint. I think we would have been able to target a little better going into the game what we wanted to do. I think the coaches did a great job adjusting on the sideline. And I thought (the offensive line) played hard. I'm sure we're going to see some things (on game tape) that weren't so pretty, but we're going to see some things that get cleaned up and corrected hopefully in a week's time. Again, I think overall just the way our team competed, that's the best feeling I had. It's the best thing that I can tell you about the game overall. I just like the way our guys played hard and played together.
The punting looked good too (not really a question).
KF: I thought our special teams were really good. David (Bradley) did a nice job punting the football. You've heard me say that he's one of the most improved players on our football team last year. And we're counting on all of our veteran guys to play well. And I think they understand that. I'm really pleased. And what can I say about (kicker) Nate Kaeding? What a tremendous performer he is. It's nice to see those guys operating the way that they are.
You guys mixed in a little 3-4. You might have thrown them a little bit of a curve on defense (again, not really a question).
KF: Yeah, it's that package that we had from the bowl game two years ago (against Texas Tech's spread offense). We fooled around with it a little bit last year. I think maybe with the linebackers that we have it's something that affords us a little better chance to do that. We feel like Kevin Worthy is a starter as well as well as the other guys that are starting (Grant Steen, Abdul Hodge and Chad Greenway). We feel pretty good about having those four guys on the field, and that's one more option maybe instead of going to our nickle package and still playing pretty good pass defense. And I think we can hold up in the run also.
Last year, Antwan missed (Miami QB Ben) Roethlisberger on a sack. You don't expect Matt Roth to miss one do you?
KF: Yeah, part of that is I think being a little bit anxious and being out of control. That happens, especially in first games. Those guys want to get back there pretty badly and when they do, sometimes they get a little out of control. That's a good problem to have though. We can tone that one down.
You said that Mo (Brown) had a bad back. Apparently not too bad.
KF: As the week went on, I felt like he looked better and better in practice. I'll tell you, he's playing in some pain. You've got to tip your hat to the guy. We've got a lot of guys that are doing that. That's part of football. I like the mental toughness that the team showed. Certainly, Mo is part of it. He came up big making some plays. So, we're counting on that from him. And he wants that responsibility.
Do you think your tackling was good?
KF: I thought overall pretty good. We missed a couple of them out there, but I like the way the guys were hitting. They were being physical. And for the first time out, I'm not disappointed at all.
Does Jovon seem to have a knack for the ball somehow?
KF: Yeah, he's one of those guys. He does it every day in practice. We do some drills during the week where our first offense goes against (the first) defense. He's not a big guy. He's not a fast guy. But he's a football player. We'll take football players. The guy just has a knack for making plays.
Obviously, Fred (Russell) had a good day. Did you see anything out of the other backs that gave you hope?
KF: We've always felt great about Fred. Fred has worked extremely hard. Marcus Schnoor is a guy that didn't get talked about much during the out of season or last spring because he had that injury. But we've all had a good feeling about him. I did the radio thing with Gary (Dolphin) and Ed Podolak (Friday) night. Ed brought up Marcus' name. That's the first time that anyone has ever brought Marcus' name up. Ed's got a pretty good eye for this game. He's seen enough of Marcus to realize the value he has to our football team. He's just so sound, so dependable. He's unassuming when you see him, but he's a tough guy. He's our kind of football player. And A.J. (Johnson) got in there and ran with his head down that first play. That's what you expect first time a guy gets in the game. He hung on to the ball.
Were you pleased with the plays that Nathan made when plays kind of broke down?
KF: That was a good sign. Like any young quarterback, and I mean experience wise, the more we can make the picture clear for him, the better. I give Miami credit. Pat Narduzzi did a great job in mixing some things, made some things cloudy for Nathan. That's what you would expect with an inexperienced quarterback. He did a nice job defensively.
Was that goal-line stand on their first drive kind of a momentum switcher?
KF: It's key because there's a big difference obviously between 3 and 7 (points). You hate it when they take the ball and drive down there and get points anyway. But I'd much rather give up three than seven any time. I probably speak for them too I would imagine.
In that first drive, Chandler looked a little uneasy and Roethlisberger drove them right down the field.
KF: I'm not going to say that we expected that, but we knew it was a possibility. Sometimes you have to live with the growing pains, and that's what we're going to do for a little while. We're going to be OK.
Did you have confidence or were you worried about the offense?
I wouldn't say that I was worried in the first half. I think that one drive that we had was tremendous. Our field position overall was not great during the course of the game. It's not what you want with a young, inexperienced offense. Sometimes that happens. The good news is that we moved it off of the goal line a couple of times and then we had a couple of dumb penalties. There are some things that we can clean up. But I thought there were some good things that were kind of hidden in there a little bit from our offensive standpoint. But I give them credit. I thought they did a nice job, especially defensively.
QUOTES FROM MIAMI COACH TERRY HOEPPNER:
"Give the Iowa Hawkeyes a lot of credit. We fully expected to win this game. We're all surprised. Of course, I'm sure Iowa expected to win too."
"We moved the ball, but didn't make the big plays."
"Iowa's defense looks like it's going to special this year."
Defensively, we wanted to get after them. We wanted to contain the run. We wanted to keep Fred Russell under 100 yards."
"They hoped to be better in the secondary, and it looks like they are."
"(Iowa Defensive Coordinator) Norm Parker does an excellent job. Their defense is sound."
"As a team, we didn't execute. We didn't play well enough to win today."