Kirk Ferentz's Big Ten Teleconference Transcript

"are excited about Drew Tate, we think that he is a fine player, but he is still a young player and he made some critical mistakes a couple of weeks ago, but didn't make near as many this past weekend. We will ride a little bit of a roller coaster this year because we are young on that offensive side." - Kirk Ferentz from Tuesday's Big Ten Teleconference. Read all of Kirk's comments...

KIRK FERENTZ'S OPENING STATEMENTS

It was a good weekend for our football team. We make some strides. I felt that the past few weeks that we have prepared better and performed better and then on Saturday, we performed a little cleaner. We cleaned up the turnover situation and the penalty situation, so those are critical steps for us and with a week off, that was good for us to win a football game and end on a positive note.

Probably the biggest damper on the weekend was that we lost Jermelle Lewis to an ACL injury. We have been hit a little bit by the injury bug and hopefully some of our players will get a little bit healthier with the week off. Obviously, there are quite a few of them that aren't. We have already had 10 surgeries this season, it's one of those tough things. Hopefully we will improve this week and take advantage of the times that we have.

Though we don't expect you to change your last name to Coryell anytime soon, does the way Drew Tate is playing cause you to look down the road this year and beyond and smile thinking about how diversified your offensive attack can be?

First of all, I can't spell Coryell, but I know that it's Don, so I got that right. Our goal is to always be balanced on offense and I think given our circumstances and situations right now, we have had some injuries and the line has not been the most cohesive group the first part of the season, so we are just doing what we need to do and Saturday that worked a little bit for us.

We are excited about Drew Tate, we think that he is a fine player, but he is still a young player and he made some critical mistakes a couple of weeks ago, but didn't make near as many this past weekend. We will ride a little bit of a roller coaster this year because we are young on that offensive side.

With the number of ACL injuries you have had this year to the running backs, is that just being snake bitten and/or does it cause you to look at what you guys are doing in the off season, if they are working too hard, training methods, etc?

I think they have already worked hard, and I can't imagine them doing anything they didn't do. We had a medical meeting this morning, as there was some talk going on over the weekend. Any time that you have injuries, you go back and look and analyze, but I really think a lot of it is cyclical. Things happen.

In 2002, we sailed right through without any problems at all. We didn't lose a starter to a surgery; it was one of those years that went real smoothly, and this one is the opposite. It's part of football. I think that is the bottom line.

I read an article in The Sporting News that attributed injuries to the new brand of turf, which is interesting. Our three ACL injuries this year came on grass, so maybe the conclusion is that we need to go back to the old fashioned and hard turf.

I think when it's all said and done, there is not going to be any clear cut conclusion that you come up with.

Q: College basketball coaches backed off from supporting a fifth year of eligibility for players. What is your opinion on football players getting that extra year?

We talked about it briefly at our league meetings last spring, and I think it was a split jury. We all had mixed emotions about it as a group; I am talking the Big Ten coaches. The consensus was that we needed more information and more time to think about it. To be quite honest with you, since we walked out of that meeting I have not given it any thought. We have other problems to deal with, so I really don't have a strong opinion on it.

Q: Is that something that you see on the horizon as getting approved?

The fact that it has been brought up two weeks in a row, it must be a hot topic right now. But I think in our discussion, it was a mixed bag. There were some positives and some negatives. I am not sure where it is heading. I am sure we will revisit it in January when we all get back together.

Wisconsin defensive coordinator Bret Bielema was on your staff before he went to Kansas State and now in Madison. Can you describe some of Bret's aspects that shape his philosophy?

First of all, I have not seen any type, but I have seen some statistics. I don't care who you are playing…the only real stat on defense that really counts is how many points you give up, and they are doing an outstanding job in that regard.

I remember Bret coming here as a walk on when I was an assistant in the late 1980's. He was from a small town just across the border in Illinois, and he ended up being a captain here, so I think that gives you some insight with the types of intangibles he possesses. I think he is the same way as a coach. When I got back here five years ago, he was bright eyed, energetic, eager, intuitive, inquisitive, you name it. He does a good job and loves coaching.

Q: As an old offensive line coach (‘I am not that old', Kirk quipped), do you still use a blocking sled anymore or is that an antique nowadays?.

I don't still use one because I never did use one. My mentor Joe Moore, who is the finest line coach I have ever witnessed, and that is with all due respect to the other good ones I have seen and been around, that was something Joe didn't believe in. I guess most of us are products of our environments.

He convinced me that it was not something that was real big. Growing up in the Pittsburgh area, Chuck Knoll was not a big believer in sleds or boards, either. I think it's for good reason, because you don't block sleds in games.

Q: When you look at your Orange Bowl season, how important in the grand scheme of things was the victory over Michigan and what does beating them do to a program that is trying to make the next step from being pretty good to being real good.? (Minnesota media member question)

I guess the one that stands out more than that one is when we beat them in 1981. I am going to get into ancient history here, but I think that was a bigger win in some ways. I think that was one of the biggest wins in coach Fry's time, for the reasons you are alluding to I think. At that point, Iowa had had 19 straight losing seasons. Then that year we went up there five or six games into the year and it was a heck of a game that we won 9-7.

I think that game gave our football team confidence, and it gave the fans confidence to that we can compete. We had already beaten Nebraska that year and had beaten UCLA, both were ranked in the top 10. I think that win was a real driving force of the success that we had in the eighties. Flashing back to a couple years ago, it was a big win obviously, but I think it did more for us on the national front. I think people figured that we had a decent team, maybe they have an OK ball club down there.


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