Ferentz: Iowa Makes Due without Norm

"We have an excellent defensive football team, and you cannot give up easy yardage, and those are easy yards. Just like letting them complete an easy pass, it falls in that category. It gets down to where do you see yourself going? Where do you want to be? If we are going to try to get somewhere special, we are going to have to clean that part of our game up." - Kirk Ferentz on penalties. Kirk talks about that, Norm Parker, the Arizona State game from last year and much more...

Q: What do you do differently with your defensive backs to combat Arizona State's passing game?

We have to play our game. We are five years in and we have not changed things too dramatically. We have to go down there and play our game and realize that those balls are going to be more accurate and come with a little more zip and velocity than normal. But we have seen some pretty good passers in the past, and we ran into our share last year. We are going to see at least two of them this year. I am sure they have looked at the films from last year and have some plans for what we did last year. It will be a challenge.

Q: Do you look at bringing in some of the true freshmen on special teams?

I think we have tapped into that as far as we want, or can go. We used Adam and Charles on special teams. We may be looking at sending some starters back out there (on special teams). We can't count on Kyle to kick the ball out of the end zone every time, knowing that if we don't the ball will be outside the forty. I don't care how good you are on defense. It's like giving away three points every time you do that, and it will catch up with us.

If you play teams that come out of the gate pretty well, like Purdue…when you have a veteran quarterback who has played before and knows how to play…it gives you a great advantage, especially early in the season and I think that is what we are looking at with Arizona State. Having Walter gives them a great edge, just like Purdue is playing great, great defense, too. But Orton has really come out of the gate smoking.

Q: Can you talk about what you saw out of the offensive line last week?

I am not sure really. We did some good things, but we have a lot of work to do right now. I felt better after watching the films a week ago after the Kent State game. But this week…there are some things we can get cleaned up. We have a lot of work today and we need to see a lot of growth. It's concerning, because we are facing a veteran, physical and athletic front in Arizona State. It's a very talented group.

Q: Can you talk about what things will be like this week now that Ben Gates will be called into action?

That is one more adjustment that we have to make, but we have no choice. Todd is not going to play; we know that. Ben has worked at guard and tackle. Ben Cronin has worked at guard and center, so we will have to call on both of those guys to help us out a little bit. The good news is that we have had so many rotations going, they have all been in there at least one time or another. I guess that is a positive.

But we have some things to clean up. One play it's this, one play it's that. And Iowa State has a very blitz oriented defense. Sometimes the plays don't match what you have coming down the alley. So we had a little bit of everything.

Q: Andrew Walter came into the game last year with Heisman hype, but he did not have a great game. What do you attribute that to?

I think that was an aberration. He and the whole team really had things going well at the end of 2002. The whole team had momentum. It looks like they have recaptured that. Anytime you have a season that does not live up to your expectations, and they didn't last year, the coaches got together and changed their defensive system. The offense has changed, but it really hasn't. And you have a guy that can carry an offensive team. All of the things that you read in the spring and summer is that the mindset of the coaches and players is much better, and that is evident in how they are playing.

Q: Is there anything that you can pin down with regards to the players cramping the last few weeks?

Our whole staff does a great job. I think our plan has been good. We have not had much in the way of hydration problems throughout the years. The guys that have some issues, it's personality types. Again, Drew is pretty wired, it's just the way he does things. We will keep a close eye on him. It's ironic, because where he grew up playing football; there is a lot more heat and humidity. This has been an unusual preseason for us. We have had more summer weather the last two weeks than we had during the summer, really, at least when we were practicing. I don't think that any of us are overly concerned, other than just keeping a close eye on what he is doing.

Q: Can you talk about how it has been without Norm Parker this year?

In a perfect world, we would have Norm here every day. The next best thing would be for him to be here every day and maybe not go out to practice. We have not had the option of either one. It's been harder on Norm than anyone else, because he loves to be here. It's what he loves doing. Our whole staff has been together for quite some time now, and they have done a great job with communicating with Norm doing the week. It has gone amazingly well, and I think that is a tribute to the guys on our staff, but I am not surprised. They work great with each other. I have been in situations where you remove a person of leadership, and it's interesting to watch what takes place. We have a great team within the staff. They support each other, and our players have been great too.

The good news is that Norm was released yesterday. They put him back because he had some swelling in his legs in the middle of last week. He will not travel this week; that would not make much sense. We are very hopeful that we will have Norm upstairs at some point.

Q: Who make the defensive calls when he is gone?

Ron is the front specialist, but just like on offense, there are thing up on the board before we leave the office on Thursday. If the game is going this direction, we are going that way. It's the same on both sides. We hope we know how we are going to play before we leave Thursday. Those guys have been great. Norm has chuckled a bit about some of it. I guess I won't get too specific. Inside humor.

Q: Do you talk about the penalties, like the late personal foul last week, with your players?

We meet every Sunday; I think it's important to address issues right after a ball game. When you get a circumstance like that, it's on the list.

We have an excellent defensive football team, and you cannot give up easy yardage, and those are easy yards. Just like letting them complete an easy pass, it falls in that category. It gets down to where do you see yourself going? Where do you want to be? If we are going to try to get somewhere special, we are going to have to clean that part of our game up.


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