Carbon Copy: Ferentz ASU Postgame

The Iowa head coach discusses a huge 21-2 victory against Arizona State, taking redshirts off of Eric McCollom and James Townsend, a big night for recruits visiting Kinnick, injury updates on Ed Hinkel and Bob Sanders, and a dominating defensive effort.

Can you talk about playing the young guys at receiver?

KF: With Mo's injury, it was good to see guys get in there and make plays. Obviously, Ramon had a fantastic game. Calvin Davis got his feet wet. Townsend made a great catch on our sideline. Eric McCollom is a guy that we think is going to be very special as well. There's no time like the present, I guess. We just wanted to get them going. We knew they'd make some mistakes, and they did. But I couldn't be more pleased with way those guys responded.

Is that Eric's position now? Were you planning on moving him to wideout?

KF: We started the plan on that one when Mo Brown got injured. Soon as I found out it was serious, that kind of entered my mind. We just need some weapons out there. So, we're going to use every guy available. The next man in, and all that stuff.

Did you do anything differently defensively, adjust the way you played?

KF: I don't think so. No. A couple of years ago, people said, "Why don't you guys do more?" Our objective was to try to do things better. I think we're starting to do things better. We're playing hard. We're playing with a great effort. I think Norm and his staff do a great job. There's several things going on out there that don't just jump out at you.

Can you talk about your quarterback?

KF: I thought Nathan played a great game. I really did. It's reflective of our offense, I think. I'm glad now that it's over, and it went the way it went. But that first quarter wasn't much fun. We were up against it. They played tenaciously on defense. They came after us. It wasn't the way we scripted it coming out. We had a couple of ugly turnovers, a couple of bad plays on special teams, but offensively, we're pretty young. We're pretty green to weather what we weathered in that first quarter, and then come on and play the way we did. And I understand there were some bad plays in the last three quarters. To me, that was the story of the ballgame tonight. When you make mistakes, when you play with effort and toughness, you still have a chance to win.

In the second half, was that the plan to run Freddie Russell as much as possible?

KF: It's going to be that way every game. We want to run Fred. As I mentioned, we were down on playmakers. One guy we know is a playmaker is Fred Russell. He's proven that to us. We've got great faith in him. He's a tremendous football player. That being said, everybody we play knows Fred's our guy. They're going to make it tough on Fred. They did that tonight. It's a credit to everybody. Everybody stuck with it and didn't get impatient. The running game is a lot like that a lot of times. The Michigan game last year is a great example. A lot of times it's not until the second half until your running game gets going. If you adandon it, you could be in real trouble. We have to do some things to take pressure off the running game, too. That really prompted us to open the gates at receiver and try to get everybody out there that we thought could help us a little bit.

Can you talk about Jovon Johnson's interception?

KF: It was gigantic. Again, things were not going smoothly at that point. That was a major play. Again, our defense is coming up with plays when we need them. After the turnover there in the second half, our guys were on the bench for I think one play and they had to go back out there. Then we were three and out at that point. Those were things that we couldn't do a couple of years ago. I'm not sure we could do it last year. We're making some strides on that side of the football.

Is Bob (Sanders) going to play next week?

KF: He's got a chance. He did some things last week. He had some soreness after he got out there and did some work. I think we're getting close. I wouldn't rule him out next week. I don't want to go to percentages, but I think there's chance. It's going to depend on how he goes as the week goes on.

What was Hinkel's injury?

KF: It's a groin. I don't know how serious. We'll know more tomorrow.

With this game on national TV, do you think the rest of the country might start realizing how good a defense there is here at Iowa?

KF: I think that anybody that watched the game tonight would say that's a pretty good defensive unit. The other thing that I think they would say is that we've got great fans. What an atmosphere it was tonight. The fans were electric right from the kickoff. I don't think they relaxed either. Our team played hard for 60, and I think our fans played hard for 60, too. That was great to see.

When did Eric move to wide receiver?

KF: About somewhere in the second quarter of last week's ballgame, I kind of made up my mind. I talked to the offensive staff about it before we got on the bus and just said 'Let's give this thing a look.' The bottom line is that with Mo's injury, we're started to run out of guys. I just started to watch him out there catching the football when they play catch. This guy can catch the football with one hand. He's really got some great skills out there.

How about Ramon waiting five years for his chance and making the most of it?

KF: When I think of Ramon Ochoa, one of the plays that sticks out is the third-down catch that he made at Minnesota (last year). It wasn't a pretty throw, and he made a big catch. He's quietly been a good player for us. He's done a great job on special teams. He's a tremendous young guy, great heart. To see him play a game like this tonight was really gratifying because he deserves it.

How much of an advantage is it not to have to blitz and just rely on your front four?

KF: If you can do that, that's great. I think anybody would tell you that. It just makes things a heck of a lot easier. But it's easier said than done. I can't say enough about the guys up front, not only the starting four, but the other guys that are playing. It's all about just trying to keep pressure on people. That's what they're trying to do up there. That's a lot of work.

Did you have any resistance to guys taking off the redshirts?

KF: Oh no. These guys want to play. There's only one guy on our team right now that's kind of resisting. I'll leave him nameless. We've approached on other guy. But no, they were all for it.

How rewarding was it to see some of these receivers step up without Mo?

KF: It was critical. Again, when you lose a guy like Mo Brown, the numbers spoke for themselves. You just wonder, where are we going to get those yards from? The big thing that we told our guys is that no one guy had to take it upon his shoulders. We wanted to spread it out among everybody. I think that's what you're seeing. I think that's the kind of football team we have now. Next week it might be somebody else. We've had a lot of guys stepping in and doing some great things. Chris Smith is a great example on the defensive side of the ball. He's doing a fantastic job.

Do you see the offense catching up to the defense?

KF: We've got a long ways to go. We're pretty salty on defense. Today was a major step for that offensive group. We're so green.

What did you learn about your football team tonight?

KF: I think the biggest thing was that our guys weathered the storm. It was a little rocky out there in the first quarter. We haven't been in that situation offensively. Last week, we kind of sat on it once we got the lead.

Taking into account the quality of the opponent, where does this effort rank in games you've played?

KF: It was pretty dog gone good. We had one or two pretty good ones last year. But this was pretty good. This was a special one. We needed one tonight. The way that game started out, if we weren't there defensively, it could have been a tough game.

Nationally, nobody is picking Iowa in the Big Ten. Do you like that?

KF: I love it. That's Iowa. That's us. I'll say this, to me, they were a legitimate Top 20 team. During the week, I wasn't sure where we were. But tonight, we beat a good football team. That's very pleasing. Yesterday, riding up to the hotel, I read one of the papers where it said that we were 8-point favorites. I was wondering to myself how we were going to score eight points. Somebody knew something that I didn't know.

Was that the first time you saw the point spread?

KF: Yeah. I don't look at that. I'm superstitious. Usually somebody tells me. My dad, Thursday, told me that we were favored.

You had a lot of important visitors (recruits) this weekend. Without going into specifics, how important was it to have a victory and a night like tonight?

KF: It was such a great environment in this stadium. Anybody that was here knows that. Maybe there is, but I can't imagine a better place to play a home game. To be on national TV, and playing well, that's always good. I'm sure a lot of prospects watched across the country. To be in the stadium, what a great evening.

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