Ferentz: Iowa Needs to Be at Top of its Game

Kirk Ferentz touches on embattled Illinois Head Coach Ron Turner, how Norm Parker has been enjoying the view from the press box, he touches on the running game as well as Sean Considine's return to the lineup, plus much more...

Q: Was their something different in Drew's delivery on Saturday, or did Penn State focus on trying to knock down several of his passes?

I think that was a part of their plan. Drew is not 6-foot-8, you won't mistake him for Elway out there or a Nathan Chandler. Penn State has a tall defensive line. They did a nice job of batting the ball, they really did. One of them was on a safety blitz, where Drew tried to throw through the blitz. That was a part of their plan and they did a good job with that.

Q: Will you still go with a mix at running back this week?

We tried to smuggle somebody in, but Commissioner Delaney did allow that, so we will go with Sam again, as he has done a fantastic job for us. And Damien is making progress for us, so we will keep trying to bring him along. He is practicing right now and hopefully he will become more and more comfortable with what we are doing.

Q: Do you think this game has the makings of a trap game, with your players perhaps overlooking Illinois based on their record and looking ahead to three tough games in November?

I would hope not. I hope that our guys look at the films. I will tell them what I told you a few minutes ago, that if you throw out last weekend's ball game, we are looking at team that will be ready to go. I am not sure that there is much difference between the two of us, outside of last week's ball game, and like I said, we had one of those, too. I know the effect that that game had on our football team; we got the desired result, I guess. I expect them to have a great week of practice and present us with a lot of problems. I don't think that we are a good enough team or a strong enough team or experienced enough to think that we can look past anybody. We can't afford to do that, it's not even close. I think our guys understand that. We will find out on Saturday.

Q: You are trying to go unbeaten in October

I have not thought of that one; that is good. I will throw that one in there today, as that is a positive. That would be nice.

Q: Do you think the situation Ron Turner is in at Illinois (being that he is under fire) will have any effecton this game?

I have known Ron for quite some time. I have great respect for him as a person and I think he is a great football coach, too. I sense that his players feel the same way, after reading some quotes from them this week. When things get tough outside, everybody usually rallies on the inside. That is what I was alluding to a little bit when I said that I think we are walking into another situation where we will have to be at our best. We were certainly in that situation last Saturday and we will find ourselves there again this week.

Q: is eight years enough time to develop a program?

I don't work there and am not close to that situation, so it's not fair for me to comment. I just know that they did a great job a couple of years ago. I don't think he or his staff has changed. I know a lot of those guys personally, and I have a lot of respect for all of the guys that I know. I know four or five of them fairly well. I can't say much beyond that.

Q: Talk about what it meant to have Sean Considine back

I think Miguel Merrick did a fantastic job jumping in there and Marcus Paschal did a great job moving back to the free safety position without a lot of work there, so I commend both of those guys for the job they did.

Sean is one of our seniors and one of our leaders. He has come the hard road to get where he is at. So to get a guy back like that, it gives you a big boost. He has missed some time, and he was not doing much physically, but his senses were acute in his preparation, because he did not look like a guy that had missed time. Credit goes to Sean for that. But anytime you get one of your strong seniors back, it's a positive in more ways than one.

Usually if you don't practice well, you don't play well. But if anyone can get away with that, it's a guy who is a senior and has been around. What it told us coaches is that he was really paying attention while missing the time in practice.

Q: Do you think Norm Parker likes having that bird's eye vantage point from the press box, or does he prefer the sidelines?

I have never asked him. I know that his preference is to be on the sideline, because you can communicate more directly and also to get a better feel for what is going on. You can look in people's faces a little bit and have a better feel. But I don't think it's a huge factor, and I think he would tell you that what he is doing right now is a heck of a lot better than what he was doing prior to it when he couldn't be with the team. To me, this is the best of both worlds and we are on the right path. It's been great to have him back.

Q: Do you get a different perspective with each situation?

There are positives about it. It's like watching theater from the box, everything is out in front of you. Some of the emotion is taking away a little bit, but coaches get emotional upstairs too. There are tradeoffs. Bottom line is that it's not a huge factor; we have played great defense with him up there and down here. It's just good to have him in the stadium.

How is Walner Belleus coming through as a punt returner?

He is doing well. He has that big play potential for us. We like that. We relieved him a little bit the other day because it was one of those games where every play could be very critical, so we just wanted to go with a guy who was going to be more veteran back there. We were on the road in a tough environment. Hinkel has been back there before in that situation. It was more of the way the game played out. I don't want to say that we were playing conservatively, but we took the safest path. Walner will be back there this week and in the week's ahead. He is an exciting performer. He was one of the few bright spots of our trip out west.


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