Coach Speak: Quotes from Ferentz & Alvarez

"I don't think I have ever been around a player who is more mentally tough and determined that Bob Sanders. Boy does he have a motor. He is full speed, loves the game and has great explosion out there. He is one heck of a player and we will miss him greatly. We have had some good players come through the conference recently, but I don't know if anyone has been any tougher than this guy. He is one heck of a football player."--Kirk Ferentz. Read Kirk's comments from today's Big Ten Presser

KIRK FERENTZ

Q: The flu bug hurt your team a bit last week, with Matt Neubauer and Mike Follett not dressing and some other players were affected like Robert Gallery. What is th status of that situation now?

"It is actually growing right now, so I can't wait until three o'clock today to see who is going to be in our meetings. Our off day is Monday and our doctor came in and met with me last evening and we had several new cases since the game on Saturday. One thing that is going around is influenza I guess. So we called our travel roster and tried to get them all into the building. We have them all on antibiotics and we will get everyone else in the program on medicine. Basically everyone in the building is on medicine right now. That has made for a real interesting last ten days and I am sure we have more to come."

Q: You have one more game to go and you have the opportunity to perhaps play on New Years Day if you can win. Given the adversity of this season and being picked in the bottom tier of Big Ten teams to start the season, does that make this year more gratifying?

"I can not say enough about the job that our young people have done and our coaching staff has done a great job, too. We have worked very hard and have been very flexible in our thinking. There is no question as to the resiliency that our players have shown. We have had a lot of injuries and now most recently the flu thing going around. The fact that we are at where we are is a great tribute to the resiliency of the guys that we are coaching. As I told the staff recently, there have not been too many routine ground balls. Some years it's like that. Last year, things went pretty smoothly once we got past our first few Big Ten opponents. Things really started to fall in place for us and we got on a real roll. This year has been anything but that."

Q: Wisconsin has made some recent defensive adjustments, going with three linemen last week and they are throwing more. Does that make it harder to prepare for them?

"Yes and no. I don't know if the three-man rush will affect us. I think that was probably geared more towards Michigan State's style of offense. We are not very similar to what they do, so I doubt we will see that. But you never know. I think Barry and his staff do a great job, and not just this past year but for quite some time. I think part of coaching is playing to your strengths. I thought they had a great game plan for Michigan State defensively and I am sure they will have one for us, too. It will probably be a bit different, but they are a tough team to prepare for."

"On the offensive side of the ball, as much as anything you are seeing that Lee Evans is pretty healthy based on what we have seen. But you have some other guys that are doing a great job in the receiving corps. Williams is an excellent player, Charles is a tough target, and Owen Daniels is giving them something at the tight end position when they want to throw it. I think the key to the whole thing is that now they have Sorgi healthy at quarterback and he is confident and throwing with great proficiency. They have always been a strong running team and now you combine the threat of the passing game with the big physical line; they are a tough team to get ready for."

Q: How is your team playing right now?

"Better last week than the week before. With all due respect to Purdue, because I think they are one of the top teams in our conference and I think they showed that again this past week; that was a heartbreaking loss at Columbus and that is a tough place to win. There are a lot of excellent teams in our conference. We did not feel good about our performance over there two weeks ago and our guys got back up on their feet this past week."

"You look at us compared to some other teams in the conference and we are not nearly as experienced or as talented as some of the teams, but our guys are playing hard and they are fighting for everything they are getting this year. We are a good football team, but we are hardly a sexy football team at this point. It has been a gratifying year thus far, as we have a great group of guys to work with."

Q: Talk about the play of Lee Evans

"It would be wonderful if you only had to worry about him because they have some other guys…I am not going to say ‘equally as dangerous', but they are dangerous. Lee Evans is one of the top players in the country. All you have to do is look back two years ago when we were up there; he single handedly destroyed us. We just could not cover him. We were not playing man to man. We had all kinds of problems and Bollinger threw the ball to him well and he really hurt us. Sorgi is throwing the ball every bit as well as Bollinger did. It is a great concern plus they have a lot of other weapons."

Q: Talk about Bob Sanders and what he has gone through this year

"I was surprised that Bob did not make it as a finalist on the Thorpe list. That is real surprising to me. I have not talked to any coach in our conference that has not inquired about Bob. I think when most people sit down and game plan for us, that is one guy that you had better know where he is. I assume the injury is factored into that. (not being a Thorpe finalist)"

"When he is healthy, which he is not right now and you would never know that watching him on film; he came into this season with a foot problem and had surgery after our first ball game. He missed out on three or four weeks. He has been hurting every week. He can barely practice. I don't think I have ever been around a player that is more mentally tough and determined that Bob Sanders. Boy does he have a motor. He is full speed, loves the game and has great explosion out there. He is one heck of a player and we will miss him greatly. We have had some good players come through the conference recently, but I don't know if anyone has been any tougher than this guy. He is one heck of a football player."

BARRY ALVAREZ

"(Last week's win against Michigan State) It was probably the best all around effort that we had all year. This week, we play our last home game against an outstanding Iowa team. They are a team that as you watch them, the first thing you recognize is how well coached they are and how physical they are. You have to earn everything you get from them when they are on defense, and offensively, they are as balanced as any team we have seen. Nate Kaeding is one of the best kickers in the country. We know that we have a tremendous team coming in and we have tremendous respect for them."

Q: What specific problems does Iowa's defense pose for you?

"As you look at most teams, you sense that there is a weakness and you come away from the film feeling that you can attack a defense in a specific way. There is really no weakness as you look at their defense. They are very physical up front, their linebackers are very active and their secondary is always in position. They play more zone than man, so they make you earn everything that you get. Just looking at them, they are well coached and disciplined and you have to be very patient when you play them."

Q: Do the bowl implications of this game serve as motivation?

"That is motivation, but just the fact that it is another Big Ten game. But the bowl implications are motivation for everyone. We used that motivation last week. We were bowl eligible going into the game, but naturally the more you win, the better chance you have to go to a bowl up the scale."

Q: Is this game the difference between a Florida bowl or playing in Texas?

"I really don't know. I think that will all play out in another week or so, depending on how many teams we would possibly get in the BCS."


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