Ferentz: Injuries No Crutch for the Hawkeyes

In this segment of Kirk Ferentz's weekly Hawkeye press conference, he talks about the injuries to Iowa's running backs and how that will not be a crutch or an excuse for his team, about bye weeks and how that can affect teams, Drew Tate's play on Saturday and more...

Q: How did Drew Tate grade out after watching the film?

He got a passing grade, if you will pardon the pun. We are really pleased with Drew's progress, as I said after the game. He continues to learn and improve his performance. The great thing about experience, and you see it in a bigger picture with each opportunity to go out there. With that being said, he is going into a pretty hostile environment and he is a pretty young football player; he will have his challenges this week, I am sure. But I know that he is looking forward to that, and it's a part of the growth process.

Q: Are teams more dangerous coming off of bye weeks? (Penn State had a bye last week)

Not necessarily. As I said Saturday, I imagine that is about as well as we have played coming off of a bye week. There are no guarantees; I think it is what the team does with that time and how they handle it. Just like any other week, it's about how you handle your time. I think the key for us was two weeks ago, our guys did a good job during that week where we didn't have a game scheduled. That can be a challenge, and a negative experience as well as a positive. I think it just depends on the focus of your team.

Offensively, have you put new formations into your game plan as you pass more?

No. We are not reinventing the wheel. We have not done anything out of the ordinary. We added one more form of a play action the other day, if you will. We added that, but it was hardly the difference in the game. We did not run it that extensively, but it gave us one more little wrinkle. We are not reinventing the wheel, I promise you that. There are no ‘Herbert' Einstein's upstairs, I can promise you that. I just read where somebody just said something about ‘Herbert' Einstein, all right? I forgot who it was. It was probably a football coach. There isn't any working in our building, I can tell you that.

Q: Sam Browlee and Damien Sims; how do you mix and match them?

(GRUNT)- What was it, ‘Next Man In'? Any man in? Whoever is left standing in? We are going to play both of them. I don't think we have a set formula, but they will both play and we are counting on both guys to do a good job. On a serious note, I think Saturday was a good experience for Damien. We got him in there where he got hit without the game being in jeopardy, so that was a positive step for him. What a great moment for Sam Brownlee to step in there like he did. I am not going to say that we knew he was going to break that one for nine or ten yards, but that was a very big play. It kept us from having to punt into the wind. He did a great job with the football. That is how he practices. He is just a conscientious tough-minded guy. We have great trust and faith in him. I am not concerned about Damien. I think he will perform out there, I really do.

You have had a couple of days to think about it; have you found a third running back yet?

Not really. It will be running back by committee. That is not the greatest thing in the world, and I am not saying we are the Patriots, but they won two Superbowls without a marquee running back, though they have one now. Anything is possible. We are not going to the Superbowl, but we can have success as a football team. Long story short, our situation is not going to be a crutch; we won't use that as an excuse for why we can't get it done here. We are not buying that one.

Q: Will you try and work in a third back this week?

The guys with some running skills are Champ Davis and Aaron Mickens. I don't know that they are classic tailbacks, but we will just kind of roll with the flow with whoever is able to go, those are the guys we will feed the ball to.

Q: Have you ever had a year like this in your coaching life?

I don't think so. I would probably remember that if I had, and I will probably remember this one for a while.

But as I have said earlier, it's the breaks of the game. Those kinds of things balance out over the years. It's like anything else; if you stay in it long enough, just about everything is going to happen to you at one time or another. It's totally out of our control. We are not worrying about it. We are going to try and find solutions, not worry about our problems.

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