Carbon Copy: Ferentz Press Conference Q & A

"Anytime you lose, its tough. You want it that way. You don't want to be around guys that accept losing or bounce back quickly and with our guys that is not the case. This was the same after Michigan State and Ohio State; the losses tend to linger. With wins, you kind of flush them down and get going on Monday, but losses tend to linger. It is always good to get back to work, and that is what we will do this afternoon." --Kirk Ferentz. For the entire Q & A session, click on this story.

Q: You talked about the team getting back on their feet. Did they take this loss especially hard?

"Anytime you lose, its tough. You want it that way. You don't want to be around guys that accept losing or bounce back quickly and with our guys, I don't think that is the case. This was the same after Michigan State and Ohio State; the losses tend to linger. With wins, you kind of flush them down and get going on Monday, but losses tend to linger. It is always good to get back to work, and that is what we will do this afternoon. We will get back out there and get our focus on the next game instead of the last one."

Q: With the Big Ten race still tight, every game important as everyone is still fighting for the big bowl bids. Does your team think about that?

"I think they do. I think both teams have a lot at stake. Minnesota is on track to have one of their best seasons in a long time. Anytime you can get to double-digit wins, that is a great accomplishment. They are playing so well. They remind me of us last year. They are on a roll with great momentum. They are playing for a lot, but our guys are playing for a lot, too. I am sure those things enter into their minds. Floyd is pretty important in this whole thing, but when it's all said and done, the feeling that you have after a game is really what it boils down to. If that ever changes for you, then it is time to get out of the sport."

Q: Scheme wise, what are they doing at the line of scrimmage that is allowing them to get so many yards on ground?

"Their offense is well conceived. They use motion and do a lot of things to hold people in place. First and foremost, they have good personnel. Those guys are growing up and last year, those guys were kind of in a developmental stage. They were dangerous last year too. It is amazing to me; they played with two true freshman linemen last year; the center and the guard. They are both very good football players. That center is doing a great job for him. He is a little bit like the Hamilton kid they had a few years ago. I shouldn't call him a kid, he wasn't a kid then, he was a very impressive football player. He is a good athlete (their center this year) and he can do a lot of things like Hamilton did. That enables them to do some unique things offensively."

"It is a great challenge. Their bigger guys are on their second team. They are quick and athletic; they play at a good pad level. It is a bit reminiscent to me when I was in the NFL, Denver had the best running game and they were more undersized than other teams, but they were very athletic. A lot of run blocking can be getting to the right place and have the proper leverage and technique at the right moment, and these guys do a good job with that. They can get your defense cut off in some critical areas. We have to be good at our keys and we have to be moving."

Q: Thoughts on the last game, mistakes, penalties?

"The biggest thing for us is mistakes and missed opportunities, especially on offense. The penalties have been very untimely, very hurtful to us. And the last two weeks, they have been numerous. That was not so much the case at Ohio State, but the ones that we had there hurt us. The last two weeks have been numerous and at inopportune times."

"When there is an opportunity, and we had three of them in the first half last week, that would have helped us a great deal, I think those kind of things can change the complexion of the game. We are the kind of football team right now, that when we have a chance to make plays, we need to make them. We are not as endowed as we were a year ago. The biggest thing is to continue to concentrate, get ready in practice and get the routine down, and hopefully play with more confidence when the situation comes up."

Q: Each year, you will lose guys (to graduation). What will you take away from this class?

"I don't know if there is one memory. I talked about the senior class of 2000 as being special, because we were teetering there at 2-18 and those guys kept the faith. When you look at last year's class and this year's class, things are really starting to move forward for us. Certainly last year's seniors played a major role in last season's accomplishments, but these guys have done their part too. They were like seniors a year ago and they had done a great job this year. This year has not been easy."

"One of the mottos that I use around the office is that we have not had too many routine ground balls this year; there have not been too many big hops. That has been the way it has gone, but our guys have worked hard and have kept pushing forward. It has been fun to watch these guys emerge as leaders and take a strong leadership role for us. It was not as imperative last year for this class, but I think they have done a good job of that since the beginning of the season."

Q: These seniors were your first recruiting class and they put some faith in you back then.

"Yes, they either did that or they didn't have any other options. It is an interesting mix as to how guys get here."

Q: How is Marcus Simmons doing and some of the other true freshmen?

"Marcus is doing a good job. We are real pleased with a lot of the guys. We were real pleased with the class that we had coming in and we have seen a lot from them this year. We probably have a couple of guys on the defensive side that could be helping us on special teams now and maybe as back up, but we had more depth on that side of the football and we have played some of the true freshman on offense. I think we are moving forward there."

Q: Could you explain how Mo lined up wrong on the play where the touchdown was called back?

"I wish I could explain it. He was (not on the line). There was a time earlier in the season when an opponent was in the same formation and it was not called. I think they got a touchdown on that play. That is football. That being said, you can't hang around and wait for the referees to miss something, but we screwed that up. He should have been on the line. I can't explain it, because Mo is a guy that should know better. He has not worked a lot at that position or in that personnel group lately. We did some of that in the preseason and thought we might feature that, but because of his injury, we couldn't do that. It is just one of those things that you can't explain."

Q: Have these Seniors set the pace for how things have gone?

"No question. Not just with this year, but the role they played before. You look at a guy like Bob. When he jumped in the lineup in 2000 that changed the complexion of our football team. I think you can say the same thing about Nate Kaeding. You look on offense; you have to start with Robert Gallery. Maybe as big a statement you can say about him is unselfishness. He jumped in there at tackle during the Indiana week in 2000. I can't remember who go hurt that week. We had no options at that point. His attitude was great back then and it has never changed. All three of those guys are national caliber players and worthy of national honors, yet they are so team oriented."

"Fred Russell is the same way. All of the stories are different. You look at Grant; he walked on here and has been a three-year starter. What an accomplishment. Jared Clauss has been very valuable to us. I think with him being out of the lineup the last couple of weeks caught up with us and showed his value. That is the dirty work; I have talked about that before. The positions that he and Grant play don't show up in the stats as much as the other guys, but their contributions are so important. You can go right down the list; this is a great group of guys."

"And then you have Mo Brown. That is a part of life and college football. Coaching is a bit like parenting. Mo stubbed his toe early in his career, and to his credit he came back and has done a fantastic job. He did it himself. He could have walked, but he didn't. He faced the music and has done a fantastic job with his career. They are all great stories."

Q: Will you make any attempt to convince Fred Russell to stay for another year?

"We will talk when the season is over. It's kind of like last year. I felt that Dallas and I would have a 30-minute conversation and it lasted about 30 seconds. You could just tell that he was ready to go. When it is time to go, it's time to go. When I talked with Robert, that lasted less than my talk with Dallas. He wanted to come back."

"I have talked with Fred. We have kind of danced a little bit on the issue and I think I know where he is leaning. Big secret there. Basically, what is best for the individual is best. You are talking about guys that have given and awful lot to the team and they are in good standing academically. My job is to try to help them not make a bad decision. If I think they are, I will let them know that. In the other cases, it was a good decision either way they turned."

Q: Can you take anything away from your strong finish last week?

"That was one of the few bright spots of the ballgame. Our guys kept competing and they kept fighting. It might have been interesting if our guys could have made a play or two more in the first half and in the second half. Finishing is extremely important, no matter what the score is. Things were not going well for us in any segment: offense, defense or special teams. That is when its tough to keep going. That was a definite positive and this team has shown that all year long. They have great will and great belief in each other. If we don't show up and compete, I will be really surprised about that. There are some things that you can't control, but competing isn't one of them."

Q: Have you sensed that the players may be frustrated this year, because in your three losses, it seems like you beat yourself?

"You always hate to beat yourself. That happens more times than not in sports. That was the case in the first two losses. The other day, we didn't do too much to help ourselves, but we played an excellent football team that was ready to play at a high level. They were wired up and ready to go. I think you can take the Michigan-Purdue score and throw it away. I would not want to predict that game if they played 10 times, but the score was not representative of the two teams and they are both excellent football teams."

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