Coach Ferentz: Post Practice Presser

The head man spoke with the media after conducting an open practice in front of a healthy crowd at sun drenched Kinnick Stadium on Saturday. Coach Ferentz talked about Tate being is No. 1 QB, Mike Jones and David Walker injuries, true freshmen Matt Kroul and Seth Olsen, the progress of Kyle Schlicher, his backup safeties and much, much more in this lengthy quote package.

No suspensions or any of that news today?

No news to report, which is nice.

With two weeks to go until kickoff, what's first and foremost on your mind?

Well, the schedule is a little bit funny right now because normally we would be in midweek the week before we start school. So, we still have five pretty significant workouts this coming week before we really get into a game week preparation.

Right now, we're at that point where we really have to start settling on our personnel. This was out 17th workout today, we've had a good chance to really guys are kind of reacting to different situations.

That's one of the things that we'll do this week is really look at the tape today, discuss our personnel, and then maybe tomorrow narrow some things down. We've tried to cover every situation. We still have a few more to cover.

What have you told the guys about breaking camp with all of the distractions that step up all of a sudden?

It's a little tricky. I haven't even talked about going to school yet. We touched on that a long time ago, a couple of weeks ago. But that will be part of the address tomorrow.

The biggest thing that the guys have to realize right now is that it is different. We haven't been through this in this situation since I've been here where we're still in kind of a camp mode and we have a lot of work to do yet.

Tomorrow's practice and then the next four, Tuesday through Friday, those are really important work days for us. We're hardly getting ready for a ball game at this point. We're still trying to get better as a football team.

After today's scrimmage, would you be able to name you're starting quarterback?

I think that Drew will probably be the starter. I don't see that changing at this given point. We'll see how this week plays out.

We've seen some good things from all of the guys, and we're seeing some things that they need to improve upon.

It's a little bit like last year. Our passing stats were not spectacular. It's not just the quarterback. There are a lot of things that go into that. We have to sure up a lot of areas in the passing game.

Is Mike Jones going to get back in there as a starter?

Yeah. He's just been phasing back. Today, I think he worked about 18 snaps. He's been back a couple of days now full speed. Yesterday was the first day he did any work with the team. He's been doing individual drills.

The plan was to get him through today healthy. We'll work him a little bit more tomorrow. They'll have Monday off. Then by Tuesday, hopefully we'll have him where he's going full speed again.

That will help us a lot. The loss of he and David and Brian together makes it a little bit of a challenge.

How many guys are you looking at right there now?

With Mike included, probably eight or nine guys are in competition for starting jobs or playing time. What we have to do is narrow that down and figure out who the top eight are and what the order is. By the end of next week, hopefully we'll be in that position.

Has it been hard to get any continuity going?

It is. You take three guys out to fix your first group and then it really affects the second group. It's really hard to evaluate the skill players with the second group, especially if they're going against the ones. There's just some natural mismatches in there.

Have you had some suprises - some guys that have kind of stepped up?

Yeah. We've had some guys that have flashed. The question this week is to see if they'll continue to flash.

Overall, there are some things that we're doing better. The receivers are doing better. We put the ball on the ground a couple of times today. That was disappointing.

I'm happy with the way that the defense is kind of fusing together. We have some replacements there.

Is Matt Kroul making some inroads here as a freshman?

Yeah. Matt is a guy that played LB and FB in high school. So, on defense he's playing on his feet. We're working him as a defensive lineman, and he's just a tremendous guy. We're so enthused about him.

He's a little bit like Chad Greenway. He thinks he's on vacation when he's out here with us because his dad keeps him pretty busy over there at that farm.

I don't know how soon he's going to be ready to play, but we're really happy to have him with us.

How has Kyle Schlicher's camp been?

He's done pretty well. He needs to continue to be more consistent. That will come. He's gotten better every day since he's been here.

Now, we're coming down the home stretch. So, he really needs to be focused. He's putting a good effort in there.

How is RB after Jermelle?

It's a concern. We go into the first game short-handed by two players. Sam Brownlee has had some minor leg problems. He's probably worked maybe a third of the camp so far.

Marcus and Albert are doing fine. But we're watching things. That's one of the reasons that we're not tackling (the RBs) right now. We just can't afford to take those chances.

That further illustrates that when guys do dumb things it affects everybody. We're not practicing quite the way that we want to right now.

Would you put Marcus out there if you were starting tomorrow or would you put Albert?

Well, I haven't made that decision. I'm not going to since we're not playing tomorrow. I haven't thought a lot about it. We'll narrow that down this week, probably. They're both doing well.

How have the safeties looked without Sean?

It gives you an opportunity to look at some guys - Jonathan Zanders, Andy Becker, Miguel, Marcus, and Charles Godfrey. You hate to have anybody missing practice ever, but it gives those guys a good opportunity.

We're very confident that Sean will be ready to play. He probably could have played today if it was a game. We're not going to take chances with a guy of his experience. He should be back in there this week.

Has Seth Olsen kind of jumped into the two-deeps at this point?

Yeah he has. We've worked him probably this entire week. He's not ready to play right now, but the reason that we work him there is that he acts like he belongs.

He doesn't realize that he's a freshman, which is good. He's making freshman errors, not really knowing all of the ins and outs, but he's doing a lot of good things

So. we're going to keep working with him. We'll have to make a decision some time next week in terms of what we're going to do with him. How everything is shaping up on our injury situation will probably dictate some of that. But he's a guy we're looking hard at.

Are the decision different for the freshmen in case you want to redshirt?

We really need to know. If we hold somebody out of the first ball game, it doesn't mean that they can't come back and play. But if you play them, then you're going down that road.

So, we really have to have a good idea. And if it's a gray area, we'll hold the player out.

How has Bowers figured into things?

He's in the mix. We're letting all of those guys compete. Ben (Gates) sprained his ankle (Friday). He's going to be out for a little bit right now. But we're looking at everybody and trying to make some evaluations.

Are there any other significant injuries right now?

None significant. Everything's been...I shouldn't say that. Greg Dollmeyer has a fracture, which is going to be a couple of weeks. Everything else is probably two, three, four days.

We'll start phasing David Walker back into tomorrow. He'll have a pair of shoulder pads on. That being said, it's a little bit like Mike. He'll get phased in but he's not anywhere near playing shape.

I was hoping early on that we'd get him back for the Big Ten portion of the schedule. We might be able to update that here in a couple of days.

Is Norm OK?

He's fighting an infection. That's basically where we're at right now. We're just trying to keep him settled and get him healthy.

Is there anything with Shelton, Williams and Price not being in camp?

Boy, you guys got too much free time on your hands.

No, it's a tough decision every year. We're only allowed to bring 105 guys to camp. Ultimately, it's my decision to decide which 105 we're going to bring. People are going to get left off of the list every year. That's just the way that it goes.

We talk to our guys about that. It's got nothing to do with attitude or conduct or any of that stuff. It's just my responsibility to try to get the 105 that give us the best chance to practice and get the team ready for the season. It's a tough decision.

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