The injury situation right now, I think we are in decent shape. We will know more about Derreck Robinson as the week goes on. He is sore right now. Ed Hinkel should be further along. His leg was not 100% on Saturday and he had the flu, but he is further along this week so we will see where he is. I think there is a chance that he will play.
We are looking forward to just getting to Wisconsin. I will be interested to see just who shows up today. The injury situation is looking a lot better but the flu situation is not. We sort of knew that last week and we didn't think that it was going to be over on Sunday. I met with our doctors last evening and we called in our travel roster and they have us all on antibiotics. I guess that is what we are all on, I don't know, but we are all taking them. So anyone that is working in the building is taking medicine. You guys (the reporters) might want to take some on the way out. So at least it's a proactive approach if guys do come down with it, it won't be as severe.
I received a medical list this morning at about 8am, so it will be interesting to see who is here. Some guys on that list won't be here. We will play that game all week and see what happens and find a way to prepare in the mean time and prepare for a big game this weekend.
Q: Have you ever seen something like what you have gone through this year with injuries and now this?
This is a little different. It has been a year of unusual circumstances and this is a nice way to cap it off (sarcasm). I guess that is one way to look at it. One good thing is that we will not have any flight delays this weekend, I am sure of that. We did hit a deer the last time that we went up there, but the deer did not survive. The bus was moving pretty good. It has been an interesting year for sure. As I said, we felt at the end of last week that it wasn't over and that things were just starting on Friday.
Q: How many players are on the (sick) list?
Oh…probably this morning there were 15-20 guys on it. They are in all different stages. Bob Sanders checked into the hospital on Sunday night at the emergency room. He did not spend the night there. I think he is on the way back up, but I am not sure. We have had a lot of things going on.
The operating procedure right now is if they have a fever of 100-degrees or more, or if they are throwing up, or if it is a combination of both, we are holding them out (of practice). Considine was on the list this morning and then we saw him a little while ago and he said his temperature was down to 99-degrees and was feeling great, relatively speaking.
Q: How did these guys get it?
I don't know. That is a good question. Probably Purdue. I think Purdue gave it to us. (joking).
Q: Do you know what it is?
Bob's was diagnosed as a bona fide flu. I am no doctor, and apparently you can have a real case of the flu and I think that is what he has. They are medicating that because they are worried. There is a serious flu and then the type of flue that we all are familiar with. That is the deal. Last week, the concern was whooping cough. That was last Tuesday. I don't know what is better, the flu or whooping cough. It has made it interesting.
Q: With all of the injuries, the sickness; I heard that your trainer went home at halftime…considering the opponent that you played, were you pleased? When you look back years from now, will that win be more gratifying?
Without a doubt. Without a doubt. Because we had a tough week, anyway. We were all bleeding a little bit from the Purdue ballgame. You factor in the illness and that speaks volumes about the guys on our football team, especially the seniors. Those guys have given us good leadership.
I will put a plug in right now; this is something that I normally do not do.
You look at the law firm of Kaeding, Sanders and Gallery; we have a great group of seniors, but those three guys have assumed great leadership roles on our football team. I don't know if I have been around guys that have been as good at their positions as those three.
Nate was the Groza Award winner last year. If he is not this year, I cannot imagine who (is better). Bob Sanders is as fine a defensive player as you are going to find. There is a guy that had surgery on his finger last Tuesday. We all know about the surgery he had early in the season. But it was late in the day last Tuesday and he was out there full speed on Wednesday hurting like heck and he went full speed on Saturday. This guy is such a hard-nosed player. And Robert Gallery…I don't want to make any extreme statements, but if this guy does not win the Outland Trophy, it would just be a real travesty and sad thing. Don't take my word for it. If you talk to anybody that watches personnel day in and day out, like the NFL people that come through here, they have seen everyone in the country and (in their minds) it is not even a race. It may not pan out that way (with Gallery winning the award) because it's tough to measure. Tackles don't throw or score touchdowns. But if you talk with anyone that does that (evaluate) for a living…all three of them are just great guys. That is my campaign speech, OK?
Q: Have you done that before (campaigned openly)?
I didn't have to with Brad last year because his numbers spoke for themselves. Gallery…what do you say about a lineman other than he is great? There are no ifs ands or buts about it. I am not going to say that he is the greatest to come through here, but I am not going to argue with Podolak; I read somewhere that he said that. I am not going to argue with him because he is a helluva lot tougher than I am.
With Kaeding, his record speaks for itself. And with Bob Sanders, that last award list that came out, I assume that he did not make that list because he was injured (the Thorpe Award finalist list which Bob Sanders did not make). But if you ever want a treat, just watch Bob Sanders for 10 plays in a row. This guy is unbelievable. He is just unbelievable. He is one helluva football player. I don't know what else I can say. He is just one great football player. He is everything but tall, and that ain't gonna change. He knows that and I know that.
Q: Gallery was already taken off of the Lombardi list. Is the Outland more prestigious?
In the old days the Outland used to be for…I am going back to Outland Trophy winner Mark May in 1980... I thought that was the most prominent award for an offensive lineman. I think the Lombardi includes defensive guys, too. They may have changed the Outland. I am not scolding anyone, because again it is hard to evaluate linemen other than watch them and that is boring; who wants to do that?
They don't have statistics. Don't take my word for it, talk with people that do that for a living (evaluate) and you are going to find that it is unanimous (that Gallery is the best). If you ask anybody that knows anything about linemen as to who is the best lineman in the country this year…That does not guarantee it is going to happen, but that is a fact. If a guy says something else, I want to meet the guy who says that. (grunt) I want to talk to him. (grunt). It would be very interesting.
(Note: Most of you have not had the opportunity to sit in on a press conference with Kirk Ferentz. Oftentimes when he is being sarcastic or facetious, he will make a ‘grunting' sound, almost like a snort. Sort of like a ‘heh', if you will. Clearly, the coach was none too pleased that Gallery and Sanders were not finalists for some of these awards and this is the most he has ever come out publicly and singled out a player or group of players in the five years that he has been at Iowa.)
Being a former OL coach, have you ever thought about a way to create statistics for offensive linemen?
It would be hard, because I never believed in grades. I used to grade my guys but I never gave them the grades. The players want to argue and they would be more interested in their grade than watching tape and getting better, so I never gave grades to my players. I am not into that stuff; I think that it is all rhetoric and hype and all of that crap. If you watch a film you can find out if a guy is good or not.
Q: Do you run Robert's way a lot of the time because he is so good?
Yeah, a fair amount. If you have a good receiver like Lee Evans, you get him the ball. That is just good coaching to feature your guys and get them involved where they can help you, like we do with Robert. Again, tackles don't score touchdowns. So I will say something on his behalf.
He made a tackle (against Michigan State) and to me that was one of his best effort plays of the season, getting down the field. He has had a few of them (big plays), peal around blocks on reverses and screens. I think that maybe as much as anything represents the kind of player that Robert is. He hustled down the field and took a couple of guys out; that is just him. He plays the game full speed.
He is not as good as he is going to be. He will get better with more and more time playing the position. We have the 20-hour rule (20 hours of practice per week) and spring has been whittled back to 15 days of practice. The camps are not that long. When you see Robert three to four years from now where he is doing it year round all of the time and going against better competition every day, the guy has tremendous upside. He is already very good. The whole key is neck up, the way he thinks. The three of those guys that I talked about, that is what makes them special. They are great team guys and they are all about getting better. They have great pride and they do not let things stand in their way.
Robert was not feeling real comfortable on Saturday. He had the flu that morning, but you would never know it. He took it to the field and played and Bob has done that all year. They are amazing guys. What lessons they provide for our younger players. That is a great value for our team. We will be talking about these guys for years to come just because of hteir mental toughness.
Q: The road has been tough…will you shake things up?
Not at all. We will not do a thing differently. When you are 1-10, you can't win on the road, you can't win at home, you can't win at night; whatever it may be. I think we have put a lot of those things to rest. Part of it is that we have played some pretty good teams on the road this year and we have not helped ourselves in all cases. This will be a tough environment. It usually is in the Big Ten when you are traveling. We are playing a good team on the road; it will be a challenge. It will be a great time to get one, too.
They had that great win against Ohio State. Sorgi didn't finish that ball game. Jim has played a lot, not only this year but also last year when Bollinger was out. I don't think that Evans was at full speed early, now he certainly is. They have had injuries at the running back position, but they have weathered that with three guys that have been very productive. All of the pieces are coming into place for them now. I think Barry felt good about his team in the out of season. They have had some tough things on the injury front, but they are over that now.
Q: This will be the third straight week that Iowa has played in a senior day environment. How much of that emotion has an effect on the game?
Oh, I think it is always a special day. I don't know how long the emotion lasts. Sometimes like a pep talk. It is great for two minutes, but two minutes into a ball game, you still have 58 minutes left. That will not hurt them. I don't think anyone wants to play poorly in their last home game. But this is also the last regular season game for our seniors. Home or away, our guys want to leave on a real positive note.
Q: Sorgi has been staying in the pocket more recently
I think that comes with experience. His line has gotten better and they have changed some things around on the line. I think it's a combination of that and him being a veteran player now. His confidence is good and he played well up at Minnesota and played well again last week. They are hardly a one-dimensional team and that makes it hard to defend them.
Q: Jermelle Lewis has been playing well the last few weeks
Jermelle is a different type of back. Jermelle is hardly 100 percent yet, but he has been playing efficiently and effectively. He has been playing a little sore the last couple of Sundays and Mondays, but the good news is that he is on his way back now. He is going through some things that Chad and some other guys have gone through in that the knee is healthy, but it is just getting him back to where he has that burst. He is not doing bad.
Q: Talk about Tyler Luebke
I was so impressed. I thought all of our guys did a great job. These guys (Minnesota) came in here running the ball effectively. It all starts up front. Tyler jumped in and did some great things. It is more amazing to me because he has been playing more on the outside this year. We felt that was where he was most effective. But with our injury situation, we had to start working him inside. Ron (Aiken) got him a lot of work there last week and I felt that he played a super football game.
We lost Derreck pretty early and Jared came out early. But the combination of Jared, Tyler and Jory helms did well. Tyler really played well. That was a great thing to see. Those are the neat things that happen sometimes when you hit a little bit of adversity.