Kirk Ferentz: On The Side

This is a regular Tuesday feature Nation members can expect each week throughout the season. After the coach finishes his formal press conference, he meets "On the Side" of the podium to discuss in further detail some of the hotter topics surrounding the team. Today, Kirk talked more about the battle at LB between Lewis and Miles, the state of his kicker, fans being overconfident for ISU, the growth of Chad Greenway, what sold him on Sean Considine, the Cy-Hawk Trophy and more.

Are you guys aware that there's a national publication that named Chad (Greenway) as one of the most overrated players?

I know that he's aware of it. I didn't read that, but I've heard about it.

Do you think that's providing him with any extra incentive?

Probably a little bit, but Chad is one of those guys that really doesn't need a lot of prodding or pushing or motivation. He comes ready equiped on the motivational part of it.

I read somewhere that he said that is posted on his locker as a daily reminder. Sometimes, those things help. It doesn't hurt, I know that.

Was that the best that you've seen him play last weekend?

That's probably fair to say. But, again, that's what you expect. Chad would be the first guy to tell you that he did a lot of things last year on athleticism and ability and hustle. He had some areas of his game that he needed to refine. He still does. His youth shows up a little bit that way or his lack of playing experience.

But he's improved through the spring, through the summer. If he's solid on all of his reads, plus you combine that with his athleticism and all of that, that makes him a candidate to be a pretty good player.

How many years in college does a player have to do it before you can say he's NFL material?

Sometimes, one year. You go back to the '80s, I coached three guys that started one year. Halstrom played one year and was a first round draft pick. If a guy plays well enough, believe me, they'll be interested.

And they don't always hit them right. I remember when Chris Speilman was playing, I kept asking scouts I knew. "Well, he's a good college player. But I don't know if he's got the speed to play in the NFL." I forgot how many pro bowls he played in. I mean, the guy's a football player. They're looking for football players.

Has Greenway stepped up another notch?

Oh yeah. Both he and Abdul. You know, a lot of times in coaching we're so intrenched and focused on our inexperienced players and making sure that they're getting better. But for you to have a good team, all of your players have to get better. We sure count on our veteran guys to play better this year than they did last year. There's no sense playing if you're not trying to do that as a player.

What specifically has he done better?

Experience allows you to play faster. He plays fast anyway. He runs fast. But playing faster, making the reads and reacting quicker, that to me is what it's all about. Thats true at every position.


There were a lot of kicker woes this weekend. You went through a little bit of that Saturday. Are you OK there?

Yeah. Oh yeah. I actually looked at it as a positive first step for Kyle. What we need to do is make sure that we're mechanically sound. In place kicking, that's your snapper, your holder and your kicker. All three of them have to be on the same page and opperate. And then you have to have the protection, also.

But I think that we took a positive step. That being said, we have things that we have to clean up. Early in the season, that's always a concern because there is no such thing as a routine extra point or a field goal. It shows up early. It shows up in bowl games, too.

Who's No. 2 (kicker)?

That's a good question. (laughs) Bradley took one, and I'm trying to erase this from my memory, I think it was like two weeks ago or three weeks ago. I can just tell you that it was ugly. That's why I'm erasing it.

There is no No. 2?

We'll come up with something, I guess. I don't know.

Does that make you nervous?

Oh yeah. I'm nervous about that, too. We don't have a great solution right now, to answer your question.

Does Kyle kick too low of a ball?

Typically with younger kickers or guys making it their first game experience, that's usually one of the things that happen. They don't get the lift on it that they're supposed to get.

But again, it wasn't all Kyle the other day. It was a team effort.

With the Nate Kaeding shadow still kind of lurking over Kyle, would you have liked him to have more success on Saturday?

I thought that he had good success. Again, a lot of the problems that happened out there weren't related to him. He did push the one field goal.

But if you compare that to Nate's start...I don't have all of the numbers in front of me, but Nate got off to a bumpy start, too. I thought that it was a real positive step. I thought that the way that he appeared on the sideline and during the game and pregame and all of that...I was expecting something a little more concerning; that might cause more concern from our aspect.

He said that he wanted to take that kick there at the end when you guys handed it over on downs.

Yeah. That's just, you know, sometimes our personal desires have to be set aside. There was just no sense in doing that there. I didn't see any reason to do that other than to maybe go and address that one more time. That was secondary at that point. That wouldn't have been appropriate.


What did you see in Considine when he walked on here?

First of all, he kind of fit the mold, I guess. He kind of fit the mold of some of the guys that we've had, not only recently, but even in the '80s guys that have been successful from a smaller school. He had great production. I heard some questions about how fast is he really or is he big enough and all that type of thing.

One other thing that I'll just interject that really impressed me. I met his mom and dad. They're great people. His dad played at Northern Illinois, I think for Coach Mallory up there, and his dad had a little look in his eye, too. There's just something about Sean.

I'm not going to stand here today and say, "Boy, I could have told you that he was going to be 205 pounds and run like he does and just all of those things that he brings to the table; his intangibles and attitude and all of that." But that's kind of how it's panned out.

And like most of the walk-ons that we've had success with, the credit is all his. He was provided an opportunity, and then he stepped in the door and really made the most of it. It's just another great story. That's one that's going to have a real happy ending, too. It's just a really great thing.


Did George Lewis increase his hold on that starting LB spot?

We're still looking at that. Both of those guys are still competing. George, I don't think, hurt himself at all. And Ed did some things to help himself.

So, that will continue, that competition. It's pretty close.


What would you like to see out of your offensive line from Week 1 to Week 2?

Before watching the tape, that was one of the things that I was most concerned about. But I saw a more positives than I saw negatives. Again, kind of like we're talking about Kyle, if you put it in the perspective of some first-game appearances of recent history, I think there was an awful lot to feel good about and a lot we can build on.

But that being said, I know these guys understand the importance of them improving and working hard. I'm not saying that they haven't worked hard because they have, they really have.

But you eluded to the injury problems. We had Mike Jones miss 2/3 of the preseason. Lee and Plagman were both out the first week of school for considerable time. Elgin has been steady. Pete has been steady. But those have been the only two guys.

If we can keep the group healthy, then we have a chance to move forward and improve the way that you have to improve. That and the receiver position are probably the youngest groups that we've had. We were healthy at receiver during camp, so I think we made more progress. We're still playing catch-up on that line. But at least we're taking positive steps.

After watching tapes of the line, do you see big adjustments?

No. I don't think adjustments. It's just a matter of making that improvement you're supposed to make game to game.

One thing about young players and young teams, they have a better opportunity to improve more. It's going to be more dramatic than...You know, Chad is better now, but he was pretty good last year, too. I'm giving up a big secret on that one. That's the opportunity that we've really got to seize right now. We were able to do that offensively last year. Now, that's the challenge ahead.

As far as run blocking versus pass blocking, was there one that looked better Saturday?

I thought that we did some good things in both. I was worried about both going into the game. You've got to worry again because the competition gets stiffer. We'll see a pretty good Big 12 defensive football team.


I know that I'm going to get laughed out for this one. There are some really great rivalry trophies out there. You've got the Oaken Bucket and You've got the Axe. Then, you have this thing that you guys came up with. It's kind of a football and it's kind of a Heisman guy. Do you know anything about that trophy or do you have any opinions on it? It's not a trophy that's going to make SportsCenter or anything like that.

I think that it's safe to say that in all trophy games, it's more about what it stands for. (laughter). I don't want to offend anybody, but it's more about what it stands for. It's another loaded question.


I've talked to a lot of fans. There are a lot of Iowa fans that think this is going to be an easy game. What would you say to them?

I would say that those are probably the same fans that have us playing in Miami. Right now, we're a lot like last year. We're a pretty young football team that's going to have to work hard and fight every week to have a good season. And for us to have a good season, this is a real important game. We have a lot of work to do. There's a lot of parallels between the two teams; Both in strengths and new players in some key positions. They're more veteran on the offensive line.

When I heard the (point spread), I was really surprised. I'd like to know where those come from. I hope they're right. I just think realistically we're probably looking at a pretty good tussle here.

Do you worry about that attitude filtering down to your players?

Yes I do. I'd like to think that our guys recognize...just look at last year's statistics and look at the series right now. We can't be comfortable about anything. if you look at it over a five-year perspective, this has been a tough deal for us.

It's usually the guys that haven't played a lot that think, "OK, piece of cake. Here we go." But you ask a guy like Abdul Hodge or Pete McMahon or Matt Roth or Ed Hinkel, they're going to tell you that it's going to be one heck of a football game.

What about Tate?

Drew just thinks it's going to be a piece of cake no matter what. We could be playing the Patriots. That's the way that you want him thinking. But he also understands that things don't just happen out there. When you're playing a good team, you've got to force the issue.

Do you feel the need to remind them that you haven't beat them here?

It's fair to say that it's going to come up. It's been almost a decade. There's a reason for that. They've played better. I tell our guys all the time, most things that happen to you in sports, not all things, you get what you deserve.

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