Carbon Copy: Kirk Ferentz Talks Bye Week

The Iowa coach met with the media after a shoulder-pads only practice Tuesday. The coach seemed pretty pleased and relaxed on an unseasonably warm day in Iowa City. He gave an injury update on players like Ma'Quan Dawkins, Jovon Johnson, Mo Brown and Jermelle Lewis. He also offered his thoughts on his team's first-half performance and how it will approach the remaining six games.

OPENING STATEMENT: I don't have much to say other than I'm glad we have a bye week. I'm really glad about that. We would have had a hard time fielding a competitive team this week. We haven't caught a lot of breaks this year but we probably caught one with our scheduling. Last year, the worst thing that could have happened was a bye week because we were healthy and we had it going pretty good. This year it's really a blessing for us because we need a little time to regroup and get some guys back healthy. I'm real pleased about that. Hopefully it will be a good week for us.

Q&A:

How many guys missed practice?

I didn't even count them. But for instance, I know that if we played this week, Ed Hinkel would not play for sure. Jovon, that's two of three of our Erie contingent, neither one of those guys would be able to make the game. I think most of the other guys would make it but they'd miss practice.

Do you get the feeling that they will be back next week?

I think Ed will make it. Jovon, I think we'll know more by the end of the week. Right now, I think it's too early to tell. Everything has been put very positive so far, not much swelling and those kinds of things. I think he's got a chance, but we'll probably know more at the end of the week.

Mo?

That one we'll probably know more at the end of the week to. He's still pushing forward. To me, he's probably the most questionable guy that we have from that standpoint.

How about Jermelle?

Jermelle and Albert are both kind of in the same category. Jermelle has really come along a lot faster and quicker than I anticipated. I'm no doctor but I just kind of based it off of what Isaw Chad Greenway do last year. I think this is a big week for him because this is the first time we're really letting him cut it loose. He's practicing hard this week. So, I think we'll know more maybe on Friday to see how he responds to the three hard practices. If he can come through this week, then I think that there's a chance that maybe we can move forward. So, I'll have something to say about that probably Tuesday. I think Albert is in the same situation. We're really letting him start to push now. He didn't have the confidence to do it last week, but I think he's at that point now. So, the question is now after going three hard days how do they feel? So, we'll learn as the week goes on.

Are they in the same boat?

It's not the same injury, obviously, but I think they're kind of in the same category. if I had to guess, I'd imagine that Jermelle might be a little longer shot. I don't think that we can count on either of them to be the cavalry when we get to Columbus. But on the flip side of it, the good news is that both of them have a chance to help us in the second half of the season. Jermelle, I told you I wasn't counting on that. But I think sometime during the second half here, if this week goes well, he may have a chance.

How about David Walker?

He should be fine. He probably could have played Saturday, but he just hadn't practiced in a couple of weeks. So we weren't going to do that. He needs a good week of practice and then another good week of practice to get back in the groove. it will be good to have him back in there.

Did we miss anybody?

You can keep firing names at me. I don't know. You've got a 50-50 chance of being right if you throw a name out there.

How close are you going to watching that Ohio State-Wisconsin game?

It's going to be fun to be a fan this weekend. We don't get to be fans very often when you're coaching. Friday night, I'll put my feet up (to watch Minnesota versus Michigan). We're going to get to see two outstanding Big Ten contests. It will be fun to watch.

Can you just watch as a spectator?

No. (laughter) But I can sit there for awhile instead of being in and out of the room. It's enjoyable. I enjoy watching football. Big surpise huh? (laughter).

The players are getting a little bit of a break this week. How about the coaches?

I think that's really fair. I told the guys the important things to be, No. 1 everybody needs to get some rest. Some of the guys need to heal up, but everybody needs rest. This first six weeks plus the first two weeks in camp have been really draining. We've had to reall exert everything we've got. That's the only chance we've got. The coaches have done that. The players have done it. It's important that we keep pushing forward and getting better this week. And that at some given point we'll put our attention towards Ohio State a little bit and hopefully get a little edge that way. Those are really the three things we want to get accomplished. The coaches are going home after practice. Hopefully they can go home and eat dinner with their families and their wives and maybe live a little bit of a normal life. They've still got to make recruiting calls and all of that. But at least they'll be home.

Will they be out scouting Friday night?

Several guys are going to go out Friday. And there's a good chance a lot of us will be out Thursday night. There's a game of interest that we're going to go check out (Cedar Rapids Washington with several players being looked at by Iowa, including WR Adrian Arrington, takes on Xavier Thursday). That will be fun too. It will be nice to get out maybe and have some fresh air. It's very nice for the weather to cooperate.

How about Ma'Quan Dawkins?

They did the MRI. It hasn't been read. They're visiting with him right now as we're talking. But there's a pretty good chance it's an ACL. It's pretty significant. I don't think we're going to get him back.

How much of the "Next Man In" concept is about player development?

I think that's the key. I told our guys that maybe we're pushing this thing maybe a little too far. It's time to quit testing that theory (laughter). What can I say? Our coaches do a great job wokring with our players individually. And they work hard year round, our guys really do. But a lot of it is just the spirit of our players. It's amazine. If would have told me a month ago that Calvin Davis was going to make the plays he made on Saturday and you told me those of three true freshmen were going to be out there and we were going to beat Michigan, I might have looked at you a little funny. That's the great thing about the human spirit. Somtimes when guys get thrown into situations, it brings the best out of them. We've seen that over the years with a lot of our guys here. Those are the real fun stories in football.

Will you spend any time on Ohio State this week?

We will at the end of the week. The big thing today and tomorrow we're just trying to adjust some of our areas that we think we need to improve upon and maybe need to fool around with. It's kind of like bonus practices. We'll do some light stuff on Ohio State the next two workouts both Thursday and Sunday. But we won't go into great depth. The great depth will be the week after. But we'll get a little exposure on that. We shorten everything down, practices, meetings, all of those kinds of things. I want the guys to feel like they're able to get a little bounce-back after this week's over.

How would you rate your guys through six games?

I couldn't be more pleased. As I've said, we're not maybe the prettiest of teams. But as far as giving all they've got to give, and that's all you can ask your football team to do, our guys have made a great commitment. They're preparing hard. They're playing hard. We know what we are. We know who we are and what we are and what we have to do if we're going to have any success at all. Our guys are so far, so good. All that being said, we know we can lose every game on our schedule. We could win every one. But for us to win any of those six, we're going to have to lay it out there every week. That's really the nature of our football team.

Are you surprised to be 5-1?

I wouldn't use the work surprised. I'm pretty pleased. You're never 100 percent pleased because...losing is part of what we do. You deal with that sometimes. The only regret you have is if you lose and don't play maybe as well as you could play. And that was the case after the (MSU)ballgame. As I said, we deserved to lose that game. You can say that for our regular season loss last year. So, you get kind of what you earn. But all in all, our guys have given us a great effort. I expect that to continue.

How is this team winning?

We're trying to maximize what we do have and maximize our strengths. We knew coming in that our defense was going to be experienced for us, hopefully a strength. And we're moving in that direction. Special teams we were counting on to be a strength and we're moving in that direction as well. Dave Bradley's maturation is really helping us there. We were counting on that and we're seeing it. Offensively, I'm very confident we're going to improve if we can get our guys healthy and keep them healthy. That's going to happen. I thought about this the last two weeks, no matter what happened, I was very confident that if we start getting our guys back we'll start making some climbs on offense.

Was the Michigan game the best the offensive line has played this year?

That's probably fair. We played pretty well against Arizona State. It's probably fair because they're a pretty good defensive football team. I told the guys after the game that we beat a very good football team that played well. It wasn't like we beat a good team that played poorly. That's something that they can be proud of.

What are some of the concerns about having the bye week?

If they lose focus. We're still in football season. It's a fine line. We want them to rejuvenate, recharge. But my senses with these guys right now is that they're pretty snapped in right now with what they need to do. They're going to handle it well. I'm confident about that.

Are teams giving you guys new looks at the start of games?

Yeah, we see some things. Although Saturday, we really weren't quite sure what they were going to do 100 percent. But they played very well. Some of the games that we've gone through earlier in the season, yeah, we'd see something totally different. They had some wacky things, not wacky but just unconventional.

Is that a sign of the progress of the program? People used to just line up and take their best shot.

Yeah, they didn't even practice for us (laughter). At least people practice for us now, which is nice. And when you've got a new line, you can expect some curveballs. We got a few of those. We're adjusting pretty well as things are coming up now.

I know you've seen him play for four years now, but do you ever just shake your head at some of the runs that Fred makes?

Yeah, I do. I enjoy watching him play, and he's playing his best football. Saturday was a great example. Those yards came tough, just like last year against Michigan in the first half. They were all over him. But he didn't get discouraged. He kept his chin up. He kept working. He kept digging. He really made some great things happen in that second half. We ran one of those runs, I think it might have been the longest run of the game, into a blitz that we didn't see coming. How he made that run I'm not quite sure because everything went wrong yet he found a way to make a very positive play out of it. That's what good backs do. He certainly qualifies as that. Not everybody can do that. I'm glad he's on our side.

Have you been pleased with the amount of playing time the true freshmen have gotten?

Yeah, I think it's a positive if you can survive it. It's hurt us at some times, but we're seeing continual growth and progress. That's all you can ask for. Some of those guys did some things we never would have envisioned maybe a month ago. That's pleasing.

When you get some guys back healthy, will the people that you took the redshirts off see their playing time diminish?

We'll see how it goes. We'll just take it a day at a time. I hope that becomes a problem. That would be a real good problem to deal with. We haven't had that problem yet this year.


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