On The Side with Coach Ferentz, Part II

With no player interviews to save him Wednesday, Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz spent an extended period "On The Side" with the media. Therefore, we broke the discussion into two parts this week. The second installment centers on the tape Ferentz sent to the Big Ten last week about his D-Linemen being held, his most vivid memory of the Iowa-Ohio State series and the coach's scouting report on Damien Sims. Read the candid inside story in this HN.com premium Q&A.

Drew gave the WRs credit on Saturday for getting off of jams and blocking down field. Did they get together and make that a point of emphasis?

I think they've been growing continuously. It started back at the end of spring practice. Those guys had a pretty good summer. They did a nice job in the preseason.

We've seen growth each and every week. Nobody could do much down in Arizona. But if you throw that game out of the mix, we've made some progress. The last two weeks, they've done a lot of good things.

We're a fairly young group there so we're hopeful that we can continue to get better.


What have you learned about Damien Sims since he's been on campus?

He appears to be the same guy that he was when we recruited him. That doesn't always work out that way.

You kind of had to love his personality when he came in. He was not cocky but just confident. He felt like, hey I belong here. I belong wherever. He's acted that way since he got here. He runs around energetic, ethusiastic.

It's like when Babineaux started back in the Ohio State game in 2000 or Bob even down in Kansas City. It wasn't like they were looking around with big eyes. Babineaux walked out and was like, OK what am I supposed to do.

And Damian has kind of been the same way. He's not intimidated by the situation. Sometimes, you need to be a little (less confident), but that's part of the learning process, too. You'd rather have him that way. In his mind, this is not a big deal. The coaches might not share that opinion. But in his mind, it's not a big deal.

What type of running back is he?

He's not the biggest guy in the world, but he's got pretty good feet. He's got pretty good vision, too. We'll try to find a role for him.

Do you have any emergency guys in mind?

Greenway looked pretty good on that fumble or interception. If we had about three more of him, one of them would probably be there. He might be the next John Riggins, you never know.

I don't think we have a lot of options. We're not that deep anywhere right now.


One more question on AJ. Is he doing anything with the team?

The only provision that I've put on him right now is to fulfill all academic requirements. Chances are that I'll probably add to some of those requirements in that arena in the next week here.

He's not practicing?

Nope. He's not in this building right now.

Have you talked to him?

I haven't. I've been busy trying to coach our guys. That's kind of where we're at. But I will (talk to him) this week some time.

You may let him practice this week?

Doubtful. I'm not saying no, but doubtful.


Did you hear back from the Big Ten on the tape you sent in last week?

Yeah. Dave Perry is excellent. His follow-up is tremendous. I beat him to it, but he was on his way to call me.

We had a real good conversation. I've never had any difficulties at all. He's a good communicator.

It's like anything, sometimes he might see things one way and we might see them another way. It's natural by position.

Did you get the answer that you wanted?

Partially. Partially. But they do a great job.

In talking with Matt and D-Rob, they said it was their responsibility to keep the OL off of them. Is that something you're addressing?

That's how you have to look at it. That's as old as the game itself. Defensive players have always complained about the offensive players holding, and offensive guys complain about pass interference.

The important thing for the players is to not focus on that. Focus on beating the problems. If you know you're going to get grabbed a little bit, you've got to work on getting separation and moving your feet.

There are two ways to go. You can really worry about what's being called and not being called and now you're not playing at your best. Or, you can just worry about playing your best.

I went through that in a game in Kansas City in 1994. It was verified on tape. There were about three or four of the worst calls ever right off of the bat. We all got just so enraged on the sidelines that our players were worried about...you know, they were screaming at officials. All of us as coaches were sceaming at officials. And we lost a heck of an opportunity to win the football game because that's where our focus went for too long.


What are your most vivid recollections from the Ohio State series?

Marv Cook's catch was pretty good. The other one that I remember vividly Dave Moritz's 80-yard completion in 1983 for different reasons than all of you.

On that play, and we had a pretty good line that year, one of our guys kind of snatched one of their guys, speaking of holding. (laughs) It was pretty evident. Somehow some way, it didn;t get called.

It was a pretty tight ball game. That was a fairly big play in the game. I'm like, oh no. I'm just waiting for the flag first and then Coach Fry second. Thank goodness there was no flag.

They didn't announce numbers back then. I'll let individual remain anonymous. Go back and look on TV, you'll see it.

What about the last eight games against them?

I haven't been around for many of them.

Two thousand was a slaughter as was '99. That was men against boys.

In my opinion, last year's game was all about special teams. We knew we would have trouble on offense because of our personnel changes we had to make. We were accurate on that prediction.

We weren't counting on the special teams lapses we had or the good plays they made, however you want to look at it. I thought that our stuff was correctible. That was really the story of the game. Both defenses played superbly.

This is my 15th year at Iowa. I've never seen an Ohio State team without great personnel. In six years in the NFL, they always had plenty of guys on that front (draft) board, high on that front board. They're up there with the Floridas, the Florida States, Miami, those people as far as having great NFL talent.

They play Wisconsin this week. Do you talk to Barry on Sunday then?

No. I'm not a big one for phone calling. I don't anticipate it. In fact, I know I won't. He may call me, but I won't call him. And Barry and I are good friends. But that stuff always screws me up more than helps me.

Did you guys recruit Santonio Holmes?

Oh yeah. We sent him a letter kind of like Chris Leak. He sent that back with a change of address or whatever. (laughs) He was in the Chris Leak category except for Chris Leak called us back after he dumped us. (laughs) That's why Chris Leak was so exceptional and unusual. It doesn't happen very often.

Santinio would be in the same category (talent wise as Leak). We recognized his many talents in high school. He didn't recognize our many attractions. (laughs)

Hawkeye Insider Top Stories