Carbon Copy: Ferentz Presser Q & A

Kirk Ferentz faced the Iowa media on Wednesday and during the question and answer period, he answered querries on the Iowa offense, the young receiving corps, Matt Roth, Jared Clauss, his decision to kickoff to start the MSU game as opposed to receiving and much, much more.

On how he plans to bring along the young receiving corps

"We will continue to move along the way we have been. We work on Sundays with our young players, so that would fit our receiving corps. Those guys got a little extra work on Sunday and we are trying to be as smart as we can on what we ask them to do and hopefully give them some things that they can do well. Maybe segment some things up and get some rolls for guys so they can be comfortable with what we ask them to do."

On comparisons to Michigan running back Chris Perry and Fred Russell

"I think they are both excellent backs, but different kinds of backs. Perry is a big strong guy, a physical guy, but both of them are very experienced, very proven and very productive. Both of them are playing with confidence right now, which is great. The biggest difference right now when you talk about those guys is their supporting cast right now…Michigan has a veteran group up front and they have a lot of weapons across the board so there is no one player that has to carry the load for them. With Fred's situation right now, it is to our benefit if we can get him involved in the offense and keep him involved and get some production out of him. He has done a great job and has really responded for us the last couple of weeks."

On getting Fred Russell more involved in the games catching passes out of the backfield

"I think we have to get him involved in more ways than just handing it to him, that would certainly help. We had a little bit of that in (the game plan) last week and we probably need to expand that. We will keep fooling around and see if we can't get him the ball a couple of other ways."

On Mo Brown

"He does not have a chance to play this week, Jermelle has no chance and Albert Young has no chance. They are out of the game and out of the picture. We will reassess that at the break and see where those guys are. They are making progress and we will know more about that in a week."

On whether or not Iowa has to pull back in their offensive game plan with so many young receivers

"Yeah, a little bit. That is what I was saying with segmenting things. Maybe we can keep the offense intact and let each guy have a different role, try to carve out a niche for the younger players so that they do not have to go into the game with the entire game plan on their docket. We will tinker around with that a little bit with some of those ideas and we will throw something together and have it practiced by the time the game comes around."

On what Oregon did to beat Michigan

"I think a big part of it was special teams. Michigan's special teams let them down a little bit and that was the big factor in the ball game. Hopefully we can make that work to our advantage, but they look real good in special teams and I think they are improved from that from a year ago. I can't think of many teams that have traveled out to Oregon and had much success. That is a tough place to play. I think Wisconsin found that out a couple of years ago."

"When you talk to people that know that league, it is a very difficult place to play football for anybody, including teams from their conference. We were out there in the early 1990's, I missed that. But, I have been told it is a real snake pit. It is a long trip, too. You can come up with a lot of reasons but the other reason is that Oregon is a good football team. Watching them on tape, they are extremely talented. They have a very good football team and they turned around and lost last week after having seven turnovers. That will get you."

One whether or not he expects Michigan to try to run the ball this year after gaining just 22 yards against Iowa last year in Ann Arbor

"I think they will come in and mix. They have a veteran group up front and those guys are confident. They were missing one tackle last year that is back playing now, so they probably feel good about that and I think that is how they want to play. With that being said, we know they are going to throw the football. Their receivers are very talented, Navarre can throw the football extremely well, so I expect them to be diverse. They will mix all of those playmakers in and get them all involved, which will make it tougher on us."

On the notion of revenge

"Anytime you lose to anyone you want to get them the next year. I think Michigan State had that on their minds last week and we will probably play a few teams that have that same feeling. With or without a revenge mode, Michigan is a good football team no matter what, so we have to prepare to play against an excellent team."

On whether or not he still feels the offense took a step back, after having reviewed the film of the Michigan State game

"MSU had a lot to do with that. As I said a week ago, I was very impressed with their defense. We did play crisp, we weren't in synch and then you get into a game like that when you get some negative yardage situations, sacks and not to mention turnovers, just the way the game played out, we were not in good situations for our football team at this point. Sometimes one thing leads to another and I think that was the situation. I have been in those situations before and they are not fun."

On whether or not Kirk feels that there are any necessary changes on offense from a personnel standpoint

"I think we have the right guys out there and we are going to continue to work to get better. That is what we have to do every week, but we have more work to do this week than any. But that will be the charge next week as well and I am hoping as we get more guys back and once we gain more experience with the young guys, I am still confident that we will grow into a good offensive football team."

On his rationale in choosing to defer after winning the coin toss last week which saw Iowa uncharacteristically kicking off to start the game

"I told the team Sunday that it was a screwed up day from the start and I contributed to it. I thought the wind might be the factor and that was my sole reason for doing it and I am still kicking myself for doing it. No, not still because the game is beyond now, but I spent two days questioning myself on that one. That is just not our character and that is not going to happen again unless the wind is blowing like that, which if it is, then I will kick it. But I screwed that one up."

On his conversations with Nate Kaeding prior to the game and after the half time warm up period

"Want to feel how is he doing things and we want to know what his range will be at each end. We want to know that if we are in four down territory plus 50, we may want to punt those things. Whatever he says, we believe to a degree. We may shave a couple of yards off of things. No, he is pretty reliable."

On whether or not there is any ‘quick fix' to the passing game

"Not that I know of. If anyone has ideas, I will be around afterwards. But it is like anything else, I don't think there are any quick fixes. It is a matter of working hard and giving our guys the best plan that they can have at this particular time. There are a lot of factors that go into it."

On Iowa's slow start the past two games

"Turnovers always factor into that. The other day, I give credit to Michigan State. They knew what they were doing. I will take part of that blame for deferring. That was a lousy call. We were confident that we would kick it down there out of the end zone, hopefully get a three and out but it didn't work out that way. They had an excellent plan and they really put us on our heels a little bit and it took us a while to adjust. Once we adjusted, we played better but there were a lot of things we could have done better on defense, too."

On feeling better this week about not facing a four or five wide receiver attack like they have faced in each of the previous two games

"They will put four out there, one of them is a tight end but he may as well be a wide out. He was a wide out in high school. They have four guys that can really threaten you, so I am not sure I am resting too easy about anything in this game as they pose a challenge for us in every phase."

On the play of Jared Clauss

"Defensive tackles typically don't get a lot of note, but that is one of those anonymous positions. It's the next closest thing to being an offensive lineman. Jared has been playing really well. He played a backup role in 2001. We had some injuries and he jumped in there and played, he played real well last year and he is playing at his best level yet this year. It is what you would expect from a fifth year senior. He is a very conscientious guy; all of our defensive linemen play that way. They really do a good job of fitting into our team scheme."

On getting the young players refocused even though this is a huge game and it being homecoming week

"I don't worry too much about the hype of the Big Ten race or homecoming. That stuff is important, don't get me wrong. But I don't get to go to the parade or any of that stuff. We miss out on all of that being coaches and players. It is going to be a great crowd and that is always exciting."

"But we need to focus on getting better as a team. We are going to have to, that is our number one objective. Then when you play either the strongest or one of the strongest teams in our conference, I think that you could argue that Michigan is, we are going to have to be at our best as that is the only way that we can win this game. When it is all said and done, we are not worried about that other stuff. We just need to worry about our performance."

On whether Matt Roth is more detail oriented this year, in addition to all of the other things that he does well

"He really is, which you would expect. This is his second full year at that position. Last year, we were never quite sure what he was going to do. We knew what direction he would be going. It was like putting Bob Sanders in the secondary that first time. He has learned the position now and he is doing a great job. Not only with the obvious things, but he is doing a lot of things well. Our defense overall is playing really well."

"He has picked up a couple of personal fouls that I wouldn't mind seeing him avoid, but that is part of the package with guys like that. Defense is kind of that way. It is good to have some guys like that, that love to play and that are tenacious."

On Robert Gallery's tackle against Michigan State that saved a touchdown

"That was a great play. He made a tackle on the interception against Arizona State. That is something that you never see in pro football, a lineman making a tackle. And then that hustle play the other day was phenomenal and that is Robert Gallery. It has nothing to do with him blocking. Coming from the other side of the field and making the play, that epitomizes the way he plays and it's why he is a great player."

On Ochoa's demeanor after his turnovers

"I was concerned during the game. He looked like he was in the tank a little bit. It is hard. No one play loses a football game, but he was trying his best for his football team, maybe a little too hard. But he will be fine."

On whether or not Ochoa's second fumble was a good case for instant replay in college football

"Maybe. I would be curious to see if that was conclusive. There are a lot of bang-bang plays and I did not dwell on that one too much. There were some other things that I felt were questionable. I would have loved to have that blown dead, but those are close calls by the officials."

One whether or not Nathan Chandler was missing some open receivers last week or if they were not getting open.

"It was a little bit of both. Sometimes you miss a read here and there and then some times we didn't get guys open the way you would like to and then sometimes the protection broke down. And when you combine all three of those things, it makes it tough. Those are the things we are trying to iron out right now."

On whether or not Iowa missed David Walker badly on Saturday

"It is hard to measure the impact of any one injury on a football team. But when you are already thin and you keep accumulating them, that can add up. It showed up a little bit. There is nothing you can do about that, it is part of the game but you try to work through it and work around it. There is nothing you can do. You play with the hand that is dealt to you and you do the bet you can. We will get better."

On Scott Chandler's catch in the back of the endzone, though it was called out of bounds

"If the ball had been placed a bit better, we would have had a touchdown there. That was our intent. They (brothers Nathan and Scott) must not have had a line in the backyard when they used to work on that play. They should have had a chalk line out there."

On if he had a father to son talk on Sunday with Iowa center Brian Ferentz

"I did not on Sunday, but I had a coach to player talk yesterday, but I did that with several of our players. It was not our best game. They realize it more than we do. Our guys hurt when they don't play the way that they can or the way they want to. It is our job now to get them back up and running this week."

On whether or not Nathan Chandler's height is a problem on center snaps

"On the shotgun snaps? No. An egg hunter would have a hard time getting those balls. We just have to work through that. I vividly remember 1983 in Nebraska. I can say this now because Joel (Hildenberg, former Iowa center) was an all-pro player. But Wilt Chamberlain could not have gotten to the one that he shot back there. The guys will work their way through this. It is not the end of the season."

On being concerned that his team has to regroup this week against Michigan and then in two weeks at Ohio State

"I would rather be playing St. Mary's, but we don't have that choice right now. But we knew that back in January. I said that last week, we have 8 tough ball games on our schedule from that point on. Really, we had 10 straight tough games. Buffalo was obviously not a staunch opponent, but coming into the season I felt that 11 of our 12 games were going to require our best effort. Things have not changed. We know what is ahead of us and we know what we have to do."


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