Hawks Talk: ASU Postgame Player Comments

Iowa players discuss Saturday night's big victory against Arizona State. Read what James Townsend and Eric McCollom said about losing their redshirts, Ramon Ochoa talks about replacing Mo Brown and Hawkeye defenders tackle questions about their domination, plus much more.

CHAD GREENWAY

Did Brian Ferentz apologize to you guys? Because of his bad snap, you lost the shutout.

CG: Just joking around once we had the game in hand. He was just joking around. But we're just a team. We're out there trying to win the games.

Are there any soft spots in this defense?

CG: There's always soft spots in coverages and the type of defense you're playing. But as far as personnel, people can try to run the ball up the middle, but our D-Line is so good. People can try to throw on us, but our DBs are so good. It's hard to find a true weakness in our defense. We just have to keep bringing the hits on every play, and I don't think we'll have a problem.

Did you get a sense that as the game went on, (ASU QB Andrew) Walter just seemed to...?

CG: The air came out of the balloon? I mean the second half, once we came out and stuck him the first couple of times, you could tell that the air was definitely out of the balloon. Give them credit. They're a great team. But this was a tough atmosphere.

Did you make your statement by holding up early in the game?

CG: The first series is always hard because you have to get a feel for the game, the speed. They kind of switched up on us from what we had been looking at on tape. That threw us for a loop on the first drive. But once you get playing, and get the speed of the game, usually you can conform to it if your defense is good enough.

If you were an offensive coordinator, what would you do against your defense?

CG: Man, I don't know about offense. Ah, I guess I'd try to put as many people in protection as I could and try to throw the ball down the field a little bit, I guess.

HOWARD HODGES

Was it telling that they were throwing screen passes and 10 yard outs down 19 late in the game?

HH: I felt like we stopped the running game. When they started passing it more, our secondary did a great job. They let the receivers know that they're going to come up and hit when they catch the ball. I just felt like we played with heart today. We just kept coming. We just refused to lose.

What is it with you guys and Heisman Trophy candidate guys?

HH: It's funny. We were just talking about that. Any time a Heisman candidate came into Kinnick, we stopped them. When a Heisman guy comes in, we know he has the potential to come in and change the game around. So, we know we have to take the Heisman out of the game. We have to keep going after him. We have to get as many licks as we can. We have to let the Big Ten and everybody else know that Iowa is physical and we play hard and we play four quarters.

Did you feel like the hits were adding up out there?

HH: Yeah. Greenway and Abdul, the just keep coming. They're bringing those receivers down and the running backs. I mean, I'm coming out of the game with two tackles.

ERIC McCOLLOM:

What did it feel like to finally get out there?

EM: It felt good. I thought that I was going to be redshirting the whole year, but coach came to me with Mo going down and asked me if I would play a little bit of receiver. I was willing to do whatever I could to help the team.

Had you played receiver here at all before this week?

EM: No, just this week.

Had you played receiver in high school?

EM: Yeah, I played it in my ninth and 10th grade years. A similar thing happened. One of our receivers got hurt, and I had to play receiver. It wasn't nothing new to me.

Were you apprehensive about taking the redshirt off?

EM: No, not really. Whatever I can do to help the team, I'll do.

Does this mean you're a wide receiver now for good?

EM: No. No. I'm just helping the team out right now. But I have all intentions to be a quarterback.

I heard you opened some eyes in practice this week playing wide receiver.

EM: Yeah. My dad grew me to be a wide receiver, but I grew up with an arm. So, I've been a quarterback all along. I'm a quarterback.

JAMES TOWNSEND:

Was it a big decision for you to take the redshirt off?

JT: My wide receiver coach and coach Ferentz came up to me and said that they're going to need me to step up for Mo. I came here and did my part all week in practice. And I did my part today in the game.

Was it tough to decide to throw away the redshirt?

JT: No, it wasn't. I was just waiting for the opportunity to get out there.

Is it one of those deals where everything is going so well that you want to get in on that?

JT: Yeah. It went so well that they're counting on me to be the deep threat. Besides Mo and Razor and everybody, they're counting on me to be the deep threat. That's what I tried to do today.

Were you nervous?

JT: A little bit in the beginning.

Do you feel like you were getting close to this even before Mo's injury?

JT: Yeah. Every since the season started when I knew that they were thinking about redshirting me, I knew that I had to go into practice each day to show them that I don't want to be redshirted and that I have the position in me.

How has your asthma been?

JT: I'm OK. The asthma just tried to bring me down, but it didn't. I'm healthy. I'm real healthy.

Is it the climate change?

JT: Yeah. It's a different climate. It's way different from Jersey.

What will be your role the rest of the year.

JT: To be a big play maker. To be that extra guy in that the coaches are looking for to make some extra plays.

JOVON JOHNSON:

If you were an offensive coordinator, how would you attack your defense?

JJ: I have no idea. I mean, there are some things that probably are open against our defense, but there are a lot of things that aren't. As an offensive coordinator, it would be hard to pick out the keys and things to do against our defense.

What is the key to success?

JJ: Our coaches stress running to the ball no matter if you're a lineman, a linebacker or a defensive back. They want everybody to get to the ball. That's what we do. You might see something open for a split second. But our defensive line is fast. Our linebackers are fast. And our secondary obviously is fast.

Do you feel free to take some chances with the line getting the pressure that it does on the QB?

JJ: I'm real confident back there to be able to just play man to man on whoever it may be. I know that our defensive line is going to get pressure on their quarterback. They'll get him to force bad throws and do things that they really don't want to do. I can do my thing out there.

Do you expect to pick off every pass thrown your way?

JJ: I get upset when passes get completed on me or when I miss an interception because I feel like when the ball is in the air that it's mine. And I'm the only person that can have it. That's the way that my mind set has to be.

What's the biggest difference in you and Antwan from last year to this year?

JJ: Me and Antwan have more confidence. We've got more experience. And we're just out there making plays. We're not afraid to make mistakes anymore. We were playing conservative last year.

NATHAN CHANDLER:

It might have been understandable if you guys had a slight letdown after last week's emotional win. How did you avoid that?

NC: It's not really something that I'm worried about with this team. We know that we're not so good that we can just show up and win. And we're not playing weak opponents either. Arizona State was pretty good. We don't have any room to let down.

How much more was the play book opened up this week?

NC: Oh, we've still got some stuff. We'll keep it for the right opportunity. But we got some chances today to air it out a little bit more on play action. Sometimes you don't get it the first time or the second time, but the third time it's there. That's what happened on Razor's touchdown and a couple of other big plays.

What did Eric McCollom show in practice this week to get the redshirt removed?

NC: He showed an amazing ability to listen to two coaches at once because he was taking quarterback reps and he was also taking wide receiver reps. He's doing well at both. He's really got great feet and good hands. We're looking forward to utilizing them whenever we need to to win.

How deep is this receiving corp?

NC: It's as deep as we need it to be. We still have some guys on the bench that can get out there and play. They show it in practice. That's why when somebody goes down we can have full confidence in the next guy. The guys down the bench are ready for their opportunity.

Are you surprised by 4-0?

NC: No. It's kind of like walking on a tight rope. You have your end goal, but you've got to watch every step. You've got to focus on every step. We've focused on every step.

ROBERT GALLERY:

Are you surprised you're 4-0?

RG: I don't think anybody in our program is. It's what we set out to do. We had a great year last year and lost a lot of key guys, but we expected to be 4-0. We've got guys that believe. We picked up right where we left off last year. This team has a little bit of an attitude. We may be younger in some areas, but we're coming out firing.

Are you guys proving that this program now has depth?

RG: Yeah. When Mo went down, everybody thought that the season was over. Everybody besides us. Around campus, everybody's like, "Oh no" and starting to feel sorry for us. We know we have guys that can step in and pick up those spots no matter who goes down. We have guys in backup roles that know they're going to have to play.

How much of a role did your team's physical play wear on ASU?

RG: That's our game. They came out firing in that first quarter. They made us make some mistakes. It's frustrating, but we know we're going to wear them down. As the game wore on, you could tell that they didn't want to stick a head in there. I think we showed that we're a pretty physical team.

GRANT STEEN:

Do you ever notice the havoc that this defense is causing?

GS: I think in the fourth quarter when Babineaux and Neubauer got that last sack on (ASU QB Andrew Walter), there was a pretty good crack you could hear. It was kind of like, "Wow." It's the fourth quarter and these guys are still hungry. That's a great job on their part.

Where does all of this hunger come from?

GS: We're a small school in the Big Ten. We don't get a lot of national hype. There's a lot of good schools in the Big Ten, and it's an attitude that us and lot of the others have. We've just got to play with a chip on our shoulder.

Did you think it was a shock to their system?

GS: They played a couple of teams that like to pass the ball. They haven't really had a whole lot of physical play offensively or defensively. It's our style of game to come in and rough people up and I think that might have caught them off guard.

If you could play the role of offensive coordinator, how would you attack your defense?

GS: I don't know. That's tough. I know some secrets, but I'm not going to let them out.

Is this defense better than you thought?

GS: I'm really impressed with our defensive backs. Losing Bob kind of took some life out of us. But Chris Smith has stepped in and played awesome. And Jovon and Antwan are playing lights out right now. People are trying to test them and they're responding.

Are you surprised that you're 4-0?

GS: No. You've got to set your goals high. And anytime you get a great team in here like Arizona State and shut them out pretty much, it does a lot of things for your confidence. We're ready to go for the Big Ten now.

Do little guys like Antwan and Jovon bringing big hits open the eyes of the offense?

GS: On our defense, if you don't want to bring the wood, then you're not going to play. Everybody respects each other's toughness first and play-making ability second. So you've got to be tough first, and that's going to scare people on film. They see those big hits, and those receivers are going to think twice about coming across the middle.

What does it look like on film?

GS: You can see receivers short stepping a little bit for balls and maybe looking before they catch the ball. It starts to play mind games a little bit.

RAMON OCHOA:

Are there Hawkeye fans in Los Angeles?

RO: Well, all Maywood is Hawkeye fans. My parents have a flag up every Saturday morning. They're waking up early. They don't tailgate like Iowans, but they get up for a 9 o'clock game. It's cool because we're on ESPN a lot.

Could you talk about the feeling after the first touchdown pass?

RO: I was full of emotions. I couldn't even celebrate. All I could do it point at Mo. I saw his face and saw his smile. It was just joyful for me. It made me feel like an Iowa receiver.

Has it been hard to wait for your turn?

RO: It's definitely been hard. But patiently I waited on special teams. You know, I knew my moment was coming. I didn't know when. I worked hard in practice. I'm not saying that good things happen to good people, but if you wait and you keep working, eventually, something is going to happen.

Did you hear any of the comments regarding the concerns at receiver with Mo going down?

RO: I didn't really hear it from my teammates, but you read the papers sometimes. "Wanted: Big Play Receiver" on the DI. That's fine because Mo is a big-play receiver and he is a big part of our offense. But we knew that Ed or myself could have a big game and Calvin had a big game. We knew those of us out there were going to make plays just like Mo. I think we took a step forward today.

Having gone through the troubles with this team, do you appreciate this all the more?

RO: Definitely I appreciate it more. And I always tell the young guys, "You know man, I remember when we were 1-10. People would run out there just because we won a game. And they would cheer when we got first downs." That was realistic back then. Even though we always played hard, we didn't have the talent. Now, we can't accept a loss. If I could do it again, I would do it again.


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