KIRK FERENTZ'S OPENING STATEMENTS
Injury wise, definitely out of the game will be Sean Considine, Mike Follett and Mike Humpal. All three of those guys have been eliminated. Sean is in a cast right now and they will keep it in a cast all week and see where he is at next week. Hopefully he will be able to return shortly thereafter.
Quickly about the game last weekend, we competed and prepared better, but that being said, we didn't play well enough to win. The key points of the game were well documented. We didn't do enough things well, we have to get better in penalties and turnovers. If we can start there, that will help us a lot.
Michigan State is a good football team that is typically talented, that is no different right now. Offensively, they have a very big and physical group of linemen, they have a good running back who is big, one of the biggest group of receivers we will see and they have some talent also. The missing part of the equation for them was the quarterback situation. They have been playing three guys during the course of the year, and it looks like they have gotten to where they want to be. It was my understanding that Drew Stanton was going to be the guy taking the reigns from Jeff Smoker, and he had that knee surgery after the bowl game. It looks like he is fully healthy, and his ability to run the ball caught our eye. On one hand that shouldn't surprise you because he was a special teams player last year, but on the other hand a guy coming off of knee surgery, that is not what you would expect. It's more fun when you play a one-dimensional quarterback, but that is not the case this week, so that gives them a good boost.
Defensively, they are big up front. They had a good front line last year and are looking at the same thing this year. Their two inside guys are really big; 300-pound plus guys. Their middle linebacker is a four-year starter and they are talented on the back end. Plus, they do a great job on special teams. Coach Smith is really involved with that and it does show. Cobb is a great kick returner, and they have a great kicker and punter. The punter is averaging over 50-yards per kick. We will have our hands full in all regards.
The last thing, I want to address one topic that needs to be addressed because I have read some stuff and heard some stuff regarding expectations for players.
We have lost a couple of games right now, and we are not happy about that. It's one thing to critique the performance of the team; if someone drops a pass, they drop a pass. If we coach a lousy game, we coach a lousy game. I am not telling anyone how to do their jobs.
I have been very cautious about predicting the future of players when we talk about the recruits. We recruit as hard as we can, and when we meet in February, I am always very guarded about what I say with regards to trying to predict a player's performance down the road. It's a big step coming out of high school to college just like it is from college to pro's. If you polled people in the NFL, and if they were honest, you will find a 60-40 or 55-45 split in terms of if someone would have taken Ryan Leaf or Peyton Manning. I think it's obvious right now what the right answer was, but when that took place, it was a tough call. That is the reality of it. One guy is doing extremely well and one is not playing any more.
Another great illustration is (Tom) Brady from New England who might be playing as well as anybody right now. He was a sixth rounder, so a lot of people missed an opportunity there. Closer to home, we have had four guys win national awards, and I will throw Bob Sanders in that group, too, because I think Bob is about as good a safety as we will ever see come through this place. If you look at all five of those guys, if you looked at them in their first year's on campus and in some cases their second, outside of Brad Banks…I see our guys every day, and I don't think any of us would have predicted greatness for those five players. Maybe Kaeding is an exception on that one, but during his first seven games, I don't think anyone was ready to put the flag up and say ‘hey, hall of fame kicker.'
My point is this…I am really cautious on how a player will produce in college and I really think that it's unfair to put that kind of pressure on a player. That is one of the reasons that we will never say anything like ‘this guy is the greatest running back to ever come to Iowa.' You will never hear that from any of us. There is a reason for that. Until they get to college and do it day after day, stay injury free and all of those things that have to take place for a guy to be productive, it's pretty tough to predict.
I just want to throw that out there, because I know when it gets a little bumpy sometimes, we are all quick to dissect and we do the same things as coaches. We ask how come things are not going as well as we would like them to go. But I would really be careful. I know this, I am careful going down that road, and I am not telling anyone how to do their jobs, I am really not. It's just from my standpoint.
So I am not going to comment too much on that topic, in case that is on anybody's list of questions. Outside of that, how is everybody doing today? (laughs)
Be sure to read the rest of Kirk's presser, including questions on this topic from the media, later on today here on HawkeyeNation.com.