On The Side: Kirk Ferentz Quotebook

The latest edition of a standard Tuesday feature that we call: On the Side. After fielding questions in an open forum (that transcript directly below), Kirk Ferentz meets with reporters on the podium side. Questions get deeper and the coach gives out some of his best information. This week, he discusses comparisons between ASU QB Andrew Walter and Carson Palmer; the possibility of removing redshirts from FR WRs; injuries to Champ Davis and Albert Young, plus much more.

Q: Since you have been here, you have had a real good run of free safeties. Is that Phil (Parker) or is that just finding the right guy?

KF: Oh, it's probably a combination of both. Phil is a tremendous football coach. Obviously, we wouldn't have hired him if we didn't think that. And then, we've had some great young guys there. Matt Bowen was easy to coach. Ryan Hansen I thought did a great job as a one-year starter for us. We went through a rotation there a little until Derek (Pagel) settled in. And you all heard us say last year that Sean was a starter in our minds. But he was playing behind two NFL players with Bob (Sanders) and Derek.

Q: What is a trait that they all share?

KF: Free safety is a little bit like the linebacker. You have to have a guy that's communicative, cerebral. He's got to study and prepare. It sure helps if the guy has some range and will hit too and have some ball skills. When I say those things I'm describing Sean Considine. It's interesting to me too that the last two guys were walk-ons. Both of those guys kind of played with a little chip on their shoulder. That doesn't hurt either.

Q: Who does Andrew Walter remind you of?

KF: You're talking about Roethlisberger. It's that kind of preparation. This guy's going to get back there and put his foot down. The tempo of their offense might be a little quicker at times. He's a drop back guy. That foot is going to get down. He has a pretty good idea of where he's going with the football. He's not going to hang around with it typically. He's going to get it out. He's not really looking to run with the football. He's going to try to look down the field and make a play, which some guys can't do that. He's got that ability to keep his eyes down the field.

Q: Gene Smith kind of compared him to Montana. Is that accurate?

KF: Way to put me in the tank. I hope he's not that good. But he's really good. This guy is a quarterback. He's a winner.

Q: You mentioned legit Top 20 teams. Do you include yourself?

KF: No. No, we're not in that group yet. You guys heard me say it before that I think preseason rankings are totally worthless. September rankings, I think they're accurate for 10-12-15 teams, something like that. Then after that there's going to be a bunch of folks that have moved out that are going to come back in. There's people that are in that are going to move out. At the end of October, mid-October, maybe we have an idea. I think you have a team that came into the season as a very recognized football team. That's Arizona State. We're just kind of chunking along right now and trying to get better. That's kind of the way that I look at it. We'll better know where we're at at the end of this week. But we've still got a lot of work to do, not only this week, but the weeks ahead.

Q: Do you compare your offensive line situation when you got here to what the receiver position is now? There are a lot of guys that have not worked out for one reason or another.

KF: I think that we were right on target at receiver until we started to get guys hurt. Mo and Razor missed most of camp. Razor is back in there. Mo is out for awhile. Warren Halloway has been out. He's a guy that never gets hurt. He set a record in two-a-days for most reps, probably. Fanucchi has been out. Calvin was out all spring. So, he's behind developmentally. So, I guess it's kind of like '99 and '00. I try to remove those memories. We went through that 2000 was the year when we couldn't keep a lineup out there.

Q: I guess I was talking about guys like Kahari Stewart and Darius Butler and Clinton Solomon.

KF: Kahari we never thought would be a receiver. He's now about 260. We thought he'd be a defensive end or a linebacker or a tight end. I think it's a different deal. We felt pretty good back in August.

Q: Does Considine just have a knack for being around the football?

KF: You back to his high school and he played at Byron (Ill.), which is not the biggest place in the world. He set a ton of records though. He's a football player. To me, football players kind of somehow, someway find their way to a home. That's what happened with Dallas Clark. Sean was a devastating player in high school even though it was at the small school level. That was the same thing with Chad Greenway. He was at a tiny school, but he was a dominant player.

Q: How do you find a guy like Greenway?

KF: I can't remember. Somebody recommended him. We looked at the tape, and kind of liked what we saw. Then we fell in love with him when he showed up here. He just had that look in his eye. The one that he still has. Not that that means anything either, but it doesn't hurt.

Q: How close are Albert (Young) and Champ (Davis) to getting back in there?

KF: Champ we'll know more. We have to see him out here at practice. He's going to try it today. But I don't want to predict it. Albert, I'm no doctor, but I think we're at least a week away, maybe two weeks, maybe three. I don't know. But I think we're getting warm. I think we're getting real warm. But I don't know how warm. Part of it is that these guys are both true freshmen. It's a little bit of a journey for them.

Q: What did you guys learn from the Orange Bowl and playing against a guy like Walter? Some people compare him to Carson Palmer.

KF: It just tells you that you better be at your best. In my opinion, we weren't. I don' mean that in a sour grapes way or whatever. But we just...there were a lot of factors that went into it. That's the only regret of the bowl game. We didn't play up to our capabilities. I felt that way in both of our losses. But we won a game or two when we weren't at our best. All those bother me because it's my job to get the team ready to go.

Q: How similar is Walter to Palmer?

KF: I think you're looking at a very similar kind of football player. You're looking at a guy that likes to throw the football. Palmer, that was his deal. He wanted to throw. He did a great job throwing it. He was very decisive. And he had a great supporting cast. We're looking at two teams that are similar. There's a reason why people are picking these guys to be the PAC-10 champs or at least hotly contend for it.

Q: So then it would help having gone through the Orange Bowl.

KF: Oh. Ouch. I'm glad that you came today Sean (Keeler). I'm glad that you dropped in. Anything else that you want to remind me about? Let's talk about some of those games from '99.

Q: Are you thinking about taking some redshirts off of some guys like (James) Townsend or (Scott) Chandler?

KF: Maybe. And Fanucchi is a possibility. He came back last week, but he has missed a lot of time. (Herb) Grigsby is a possibility, but he weighs about 140 pounds. I think we may want to let him eat for awhile. We'll keep looking around. We can't really pull a rabbit out of our hat, but we'll keep looking.

Q: Last year, you thought about throwing Bob out at running back. Is there any established player that you might try at receiver?

KF: I don't think there's anybody that we can spare. I can't think of anybody right now. Jovon made plays in high school, but he's got his hands full. Nobody really pops out there.

Q: Does the offense go back to being even more simple without Mo?

KF: We're just going to have to a do a heck of a job hopefully of trying to keep them off balance a little bit. We're going to have to execute our best. It's, by far, our biggest challenge offensively. This is the best defense that we've seen. It's going to be a heck of a challenge. I'm not sure what we're going to do yet.

Q: Do you feel comfortable that the receivers that you have in there can stretch the field?

KF: Mo Brown is one of our fastest players. You lose one of your most veteran, big-play guys that can run the best. And Mo, I was telling one of the pro scouts today, he'd be on our special teams right now if we had more depth at receiver. Just like Fred (Russell) would be out there if we had more depth at running back. That's where it starts to affect you. We're just kind of getting thin. That's my concern. We're starting to run out of some numbers.

Q: What's Mo's attitude like?

KF: Great. I was teasing him Sunday. He's been waiting for his senior year like every senior and the poor guy came in with a back injury in camp. Then he had pains in his shoulder and played through that. I really admire what he's done there. He made a great play the other day. Fortunately, you watch the tape of the other day, you're almost glad that we got away with what we got away with. That was a tough thing there. But he's got a substantial injury right now. The good news is that we're optimistic that he'll be able to rehab aggressively and be back hopefully for that week after the bye. That's the feeling according to Ed (Crowley). Ed is the expert here. So, I've got a lot of confidence. Maybe he can at least have a good half of a season and then maybe we can get into a bowl game so he can get the bonus.

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