Kirk Ferentz 'On the Side'

As is always the case, Kirk Ferentz is much more candid 'on the side' of the podium after he has addressed the media and today was no exception. Kirk talked about possibly using a no huddle offense over the next few years, the Kinnick Stadium renovations, scripting plays, memories of his first two recruiting classes, Floyd of Rosedale and so much more.

Do you feel that your offensive line is still confident even though it got beat up a little last week?

We'll be OK. I'll tell you, I've been involved in games like that before. They're no fun. A lot of things go into it. But the big thing right now is that we've got to get moving and get back up on our feet. We'll worry about this one. We can't worry about that last one because it ain't coming back. If we let that affect us, then that will hurt us this week. We need to get our eyes moving forward on these next two.

Have you see David Bradley since Saturday?

Yeah. I saw him Sunday and I saw him (Monday). We just need all of our guys to be more consistent and smart.

Have you guys decided to hold Albert out this year?

Yeah, I think so at this point. The closest we might have come would have been the Penn State game. Schnoor got knocked out. Jermelle had the hamstring. We were down to Sam and Fred. That one might have been a chance. But right now, we're going to bite the bullet with that one.

Does he understand?

Oh yeah. I think he's been leaning that way the last couple of weeks. We got to the point where we were just hoping to keep him out. That's what we're going to do.

What is the condition of James Townsend?

He's still in a cast right now. It's a stress fracture. It's pretty safe to say that he's out for the next few weeks. Hopefully we'll get him back for the bowl.

How did that first recruiting class in '99 (this year's seniors) come together for you guys?

It was kind of a mixture of taking the list that was in place (from Hayden Fry's staff) and also digging up some new names. We were hitting it on the run, hitting it on the fly. Then you have guys like Bob, who was a year later. Nate was a year later. The fifth-year guys, it was kind of peck and hunt.

Were most of the fifth-year guys already committed to Iowa?

No. Not really. I'm trying to think who was. Greving was the only one. Jensen was then Jensen kind of de-committed. He wanted to come down and meet us, which is totally understandable. Aaron was the same way. He wanted a chance to re-evaluate the situation.

Were most of them on the list when you got here?

I'd have to go down and look at it. I'd say there was probably a high percentage.

Who was involved in putting that list together?

Bob (Elliott), Bret (Bielema) and Chuck (Long) were obviously here. For instance, Chuck had Edgar and Ramon on his list from California. It was those guys, and then Carl (Jackson) and Ken (O'Keefe) were in place real quickly. Joe Philbin was here pretty quickly. That was probably the core group while I was still over in Baltimore.

Did you feel you did as well as you could in that situation?

That's all that you can do. You try to go through the list; try to get to meet all of the guys and try to get a feel for who you like the best. I don't think I looked at one of them on tape. I didn't have time. It was just the nature of the deal.

Eight of them are starting

It turned out OK. (laughter) You take a guy like Grant, who walked on here. He was coming here regardless.

Are the Minnesota QB's different, and are you expecting to see Abdul-Khaliq?

Yeah. We're expecting to see him. He's just so comfortable back there, where as maybe two years ago maybe he was a little inconsistent. Right now, there's just a total comfort level. He's throwing the ball well. He can pull it down and run with it. He looks like a fifth-year senior. Unfortunately, the other guy is a fifth-year senior too, which is unusual. He stepped in there and made plays for them the other day. He's more of a thrower. Khaliq is more of a run threat. I read somewhere that last year that it wasn't uncommon that if Khaliq had some injury problems that he wouldn't practice all week, and this other guy was getting a lot of work with the ones. It's not like there is a new guy going in there. The team is comfortable with either one of them.

Offensively, are they like you were last year?

Yes and no. Their scheme is a little different, but the proficiency level that they're operating at is fantastic. And they're running the ball better. Their statistics running the ball are just unbelievable. They're just...wow; against anybody. I started thinking ‘Oh, it's probably preseason.' But you look at what they've done in the Big Ten...geez, it's unbelievable.

Glen said earlier this year that he's mixing his backs in with no rhyme or reason. Do you see that on tape?

Yeah. And I don't think they need one because Barber comes out and Maroney is, I don't want to say as good, but he's pretty close. The guy is running really well. And Tapeh is the big, physical guy back there. They've got Jackson sitting on the bench. He had 1,300 yards last year. That's not a bad deal.

Do you think they'll be any residue from the post game celebration up there last year?

I doubt it. To me, that was a year ago. Probably the thing that they're focused on is taking the pig back. I got my first introduction to that one in '81. It's not so much the trophy. It's having the trophy. I noticed that they made a pretty good sprint for the axe last week. I imagine that they would love to do that to the pig too. That's one of the neat things about a rivalry.

I suppose that you wouldn't want your kicker jumping the bench.

Ours would probably get hurt. (laughter) No. Nate wouldn't because he's a good athlete.

Isn't it refreshing to see the kids still caring about something like that?

Oh yeah. In '99, they came shooting across to our bench. Then, our guys made a pretty good run in 2001. It's definitely nicer to possess as opposed to lose possession. It's kind of like the football.

If Steen and Clauss can play, what kind of a lift would that be?

It will be helpful to our football team no doubt about it. When we lost Jonathan, that wasn't a good thing for our team. But at the break we had six guys that we felt real comfortable with up front. Now, we're down to four. You take Grant out of that mix...And again, I really think Grant, if you look at our front seven, that position is real critical. That's probably one or two more hits than we can withstand over a period of time. It would be really helpful if we get those guys back, not only from a playing standpoint, but also to get two seniors back that have that savvy and the expertise and the leadership and all of that kind of thing.

You sound pretty positive that they will be ready

I've got to think so. We've had two weeks now. They were real close last week. So, I'd like to think with five extra days that they should be ready to go. But we won't know that until we see them out there on the field.

Are you guys still working off of a script on the first series?

Yeah. For the most part. Unless something goofy happens like a five-yard loss on that first play. (laughter)

Does the script change throughout the season?

Oh yeah. We always change that week to week depending on whom we're playing and what we see. We obviously have not started fast. I don't think in any phase the last couple of weeks. And I'm not sure that I have an answer right now.

When you lose five yards on the first play, does that mess up the whole script?

It doesn't help. Penalties don't help either. Those things alter the way you operate.

How many plays are scripted?

About 15. I don't know if we always get through those 15, but that's what we'll have on paper. You get off that script if something happens, if you get a negative yardage play.

When do you usually have that done?

Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday evening. We usually run part of it at least on Thursday. That's part of Thursday's practice.

Who puts the input into the script?

It's pretty much Ken. I look at it. I might have a suggestion. All of us. Basically, we do it as a community effort, both sides of the ball and special teams the same way. So, if anybody has an idea...nobody has any ego problems on this staff. It's not like it's "My script." It's "Our script." That's how we look at it.

Have you guys thought about ripping up the script and...

...picking stuff out of a hat? (laughter)

Just to get out of the slow starts. Have you guys thought about a no-huddle?

I've thought about that. Not recently. Sometime in the next couple of years, we'll see that (Tate reference?). I'm sure. It won't be this year. The way I look at this is that we haven't changed our routine a heck of a lot in five years. I really don't plan on changing it right now. I don't think that there is a good reason to at this point. We may consider that out of a hat theory though. We may give that a shot. Ken might be doing that already. (laughter) ------

Kinnick Stadium is going to be redone. Does that matter to the players and coaches?

I don' think so. I'm sure the concourses are cramped. I just think it's like going to Wrigley Field or Fenway Park or the old Cleveland stadium. So, when they address some of those issues, it will be more fan friendly, which has got to be nice.

How about as a recruiting tool?

To get the press box redone is going to be nice. We'll have new locker rooms. But game day locker rooms are hardly (a deal breaker). I told Bob we need to invest, but everybody is so gaudy now.

Like Oregon with the plasma TVs?

It's not really helping right now either last time I checked. (laughter)

Are you going to change the color schemes?

No.

So the visitors locker rooms will remain pink?

That will stay. That's a tradition. To me, it's more about our fans, making it more fan friendly.


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