Hawks Talk Penn State: Drew Tate & Brian Ferentz

Iowa quarterback Drew Tate and right guard Brian Ferentz met with the media on Tuesday and discussed Saturday's game at Penn State, which owns a stingy defense. The Nittany Lions allow just 16.0 point per game: "They're pretty tough," Ferentz said. "They're a tough, hard-nosed unit. They remind me a lot of our own guys. They're physical up front. The linebackers can move. They make plays."


When you look back at the beginning of the season, do you feel a lot more confident now?

That just comes with playing. The more you play the more confident you get. You just start seeing things better and better as the games go on. That was my sixth game, and I felt a lot more comfortable and I was seeing a lot more things than I did in Week 1.

You really looked like you were having fun out there. After the touchdown pass, you were swinging your arms. Where did that come from?

I don't know. I was excited because we really needed to get a big score at that time. I was just real excited about that.

What is your assessment of the Big Ten Conference. Is it wide open?

I don't know. All I'm worried about are my teammates and us winning games. I can't control what Michigan does the rest of the way or anybody else. I can just control what our offense does and what our team can do. We just have to take care of ourselves and just worry about who we're playing.

How much have you seen the offensive line improve over the last month?

A great deal. And I think Todd and Gates might be coming back this week. That will help us with extra depth on the offensive line.

For everything that has happened, that's just great what they've been able to accomplish through all of the injuries and all the challenges they've faced. I mean, they've done a great job.

What did you take from playing in a big stadium at Michigan that you might be able to use this week?

What happened at Michigan, that was four weeks ago. We've gotten a lot of things worked out since then. We as a unit have felt a lot more comfortable. We're doing a lot of things better.

Do you feel like you're clicking on offense?

We're clicking pretty well. We're doing a good job moving the ball and trying to put points on the board. But our defense is doing a great job putting us in those kinds of situations.

How often do you change the plays?

It just depends on what the personnel is and whatever defense they show us. That's the only time I change the plays.

Did you do it much last week?

A couple of times. Not that much though. We didn't have that much stuff going in. We were just trying to keep it simple. We've been doing that the past month. We've been staying really simple. We're not having as many checks as what we used to. That's probably because of the personnel problems that we've had. I don't know. But it's working out.

Penn State is decent against the pass. What makes them that way?

Just the athletes they got and the team that they have; their secondary and just what they do.



Brian, is there any concern about an emotional letdown after the big Ohio State win?

Not for us. If we have an emotional letdown, that would be a real shame. I don't think that we have that kind of team.

We've been on the road and we've played in hostile environments and we've gotten our ass kicked. So, if we have an emotional letdown, that would be shame on us. I'm not worried about that.

What do you think of the Penn State defense?

They're pretty tough. They're a tough, hard-nosed unit. They remind me a lot of our own guys. They're physical up front. The linebackers can move. They make plays.

Not to knock their offense, but the games that I've seen on TV and watched on film, it seems like their defense has really carried them this year. It's a heck of a challenge for us to go in there and try to move the football.

What did the wins out there in 2000 and 2002 do for the program?

Without a doubt, the 200 win was the one where the program really turned the corner that day. To beat Penn State up there, that really launched the program forward.

In 2002, we lost that close game against Iowa State at home. I would be lying if everybody on the sideline didn't start having deja vu in the fourth quarter of the Penn State game. To hang on and pull out a close one like that, that set the groundwork for the rest of the year.

They say these days that offensive linemen like to block for running backs. So, now you're down to unknowns at running back. What is the story with that?

We've got a No. 1. We've got a No. 2. I don' think we really have a No. 3. We have a lot of healthy fullbacks. (laughter) So, we better block for them.

Some of the ACLs are freak injuries. But anytime you get your running backs hit hard, there's a chance for injuries. The O-line has to shoulder some of that responsibility of protecting our guys. If that means cleaning up piles and keeping guys off of them, that's what it means.

Obviously, we can't afford to have any more injuries. It's been a crazy year at that position. But we need to protect those guys.

Do you like to block for Sam (Brownlee)?

I like to block for anyone. I like to play.

But I'll tell you what, Sam runs hard and he makes me look good. There's nothing better than a running back who makes me look good. So, yeah, I enjoy blocking for Sam.

I enjoy blocking for all of them. So, make sure you tell all of them that. (laughter)

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