Ferentz: 'A lot of Areas that Need Improvement'

"We did not perform very well the other night, and that begins with our preparation, which starts with me. For whatever reason, we were not ready to go. We are not a real strong football team right now; I think we all realize that. We anticipated that; we have a lot of areas that need improvement, we knew that before Saturday's game. That being said, did we anticipate that kind of outcome? Not at all." - Kirk Ferentz. Read the rest of Ferentz's comments to Big Ten media members

OPENING STATEMENT

We had a very tough weekend traveling to Arizona State. They outplayed us in every phase possible. They had a great plan, they executed it with great precision and we were not up to the task. We have a lot of work ahead of us, and it does not get any easier for us. We are on the road again and going up to play a very strong Michigan team. We have a lot of challenges in front of us this week.

Q: From the outside looking in, the Iowa-Michigan game appears to have lost its luster, as neither team is in the Top 10 or 15. How would your respond to that?

Well, it was a pretty good ballgame in 2001 and we were hardly a juggernaut at that point. Right now, we have contributed to that, because we are not playing at the caliber we have been at the last two seasons. I think if you look at Michigan, they are still a very strong team and one of the top favorites at this point in the season. We have our hands full. I am not as concerned with how it looks from the outside as I am where our football team is at.

Q: How is your team reacting to now being the ‘hunted' instead of the hunter? This will be your second ‘pay back' game in a row.

I hope we handle this one better than we did the last one. We did not perform very well the other night, and that begins with our preparation, which starts with me. For whatever reason, we were not ready to go. We are not a real strong football team right now; I think we all realize that. We anticipated that; we have a lot of areas that need improvement, we knew that before Saturday's game. That being said, did we anticipate that kind of outcome? Not at all.

As far as the rematch stuff, I think teams have motivation whether or not they won or lost the year before. You have to live in the present in sports, so whether or not you won a game or lost a game or had a good season or a bad season, the most important thing that you do is what is right in front of you, and I think that is the case for both of the teams involved this week.

Q: How much impact do you think it will have on your game Saturday that Michigan will start a freshman at running back and quarterback, and will that enable you to pull some Hawkeye tricks?

(Laugh) Well, we got treated instead of tricked…treated to a lot of problems the other night. I think what it indicates is that those two freshmen are pretty good football players. Michael Hart demonstrated that the other day; he gave them a shot in the arm with the running game and was extremely productive and quick. He hits it in there. Henne is an excellent quarterback, and was highly recruited. They only started classes about two weeks ago there, and the fact that he is playing on a great football team speaks volumes about him. We have great respect for those guys, and they have a nice supporting cast around them, with the big line and I don't think that anyone in the world has as good of receivers as Michigan, including the tight end.

Q: Is that why they can play young guys, because the players around them are very good?

I think you are seeing more and more (young players playing) going on right now. I can't give you the particulars, but more of that is going on with the 85 scholarships, plus if you look at the resumes of the guy you are talking about, Chad Henne was highly recruited and everyone in the country wanted him. Now he has taken that next step. If you have a great supporting cast, it makes it easier, so that probably doesn't show up as much in a program like Michigan's.

Q: Can you give us an assessment of your quarterback situation?

We are having a lot of problems offensively right now. Drew has contributed to that to a degree; I don't think there is any question that he is experiencing some growing pains. I think he is doing a real good job. I think he is about where we had hoped or wished he would be at this point. The thing we need to do right now is to give him more support and a chance to operate better. If we can give that to him, I think we will see him play better. Right now it's tough, as we have not established ourselves in any phase offensively.

Q: With young players, does league play and that pressure magnify the mistakes they can make?

I think all of us, coaches and players, place a lot of significance on conference games. The objective is to be the best in the conference, so these games are extremely important. I really look at our football team, and we are a lot like we were at this time last year, with a couple of exceptions. We have a lot of growing to do. We were having more than our fair share of offensive problems early last year and I think if you look at who we lost and who we returned, where we are at right now is not a total surprise. That being said, we knew that months ago. What is important right now is what we can do to get better, and that is our focus.

Q: Have you had a chance to digest the Big Ten, as far as teams that have jumped up and surprised you?

It still starts with Michigan and Ohio State, or vice versa. Then I thought there was a big pack of teams that could emerge, and that is always the trick. Purdue has only played two games, but based on the things I have read, they have been very sharp. When you have a quarterback like Kyle Orton, or like Andrew Walter who we played last week, that is experienced and has had great production, that gives you a nice edge. I think Purdue is doing a good job with that and all phases. But it's extremely early. I have been saying that rankings don't mean anything right now, and I think if anybody tries to handicap how things are going to shake out at this point…it's great conversation and that is a part of sports, but it's too early to tell. In another month, we will know a lot more about everybody.


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