Hawks Talk Illinois: B. Ferentz, Tate

With less than 200 yards and six points against a tough Penn State defense last Saturday, the Iowa offense sputtered after a couple of strong weeks. The Hawks hope to get healthy at Illinois this week, and jump start their running game. "We need to get the confidence back in the coaches that we can run the football," right guard Brian Ferentz said. "They feel better now throwing it. I watched the tapes. I don't blame them."

BRIAN FERENTZ

Do you worry about a letdown being as you're playing an 0-5 Illinois team after beating Ohio State and Penn State?

Yeah. I don't see that as a problem. All year we've focused on the season one game at a time, one week at a time. I really don't foresee that changing. That's what our success is built upon. Certainly, you don't want to do away from what makes you successful.

Is it a dangerous game playing somewhere where the coach is under fire as you did last week?

Any time you go into a place where the program has not had a lot of success recently, it's tough to play. They're motivated. They're angry. They certainly want to prove some people wrong.

I don't think it changes anything we need to do. The key to the football game is to go out there and start fast to take their crowd out of it. We really didn't do that last week. We startd pretty slow. In fact, the whole game was pretty slow for us offensively. At no point did we take their crowd out of it. That's something we need to work on this week.

As far as Coach Turner's situation and the players there, I'm sure it's tough for them with everything that's been going on. But I don't foresee them playing us any differently than they would anyway.

How concerned are you with how the offense performed last week? Were you close to things?

We're all concerned. When you don't move the ball very well, when you have under 200 yards total offense, you get a little concerned. But you go back and you watch the tape, and it's never as good as it seems and it's never as bad as it seems.

We were real close on a lot of things. A lot of it is we need to get all 11 guys on the same page at all times. We had some trouble with that on Saturday. I don't know if it was the environment or we were just mentally not focused. We need to make some changes there.

But we're not far away from where we want to be. Yet, we're far enough that it's frustrating to watch sometimes. Hopefully we can make some progress this Saturday and take a step forward.

Did it surprise you guys how much you struggled given that the two weeks before had been your two best offensive performances?

No. It really didn't. You go out there with confidence and you expect to move the football and you expect to score points. But when you're playing a good defense - and don't be fooled, they were a good defense - they're going to give you problems and it's going to create some problems within.

The way they prepared, they really threw some stuff at us that was pretty smart. They had a week to think about it, and it showed. They hit us with things that we thought we'd seen, but they changed it just a little bit, enough to cause us problems.

We were frustrated that we weren't moving the football, and that frustration got to us a little bit in the third quarter, especially. We lost a composure a little bit as an offense.

Luckily we regained it in the fourth quarter when it was time to move the football. We took like seven minutes off of the clock. We got together when we needed it. That's encouraging.

How about running the football? You look at your running numbers in the Big Ten and you've got to chuckle that you're 3-1.

Yeah. And the hard part about last week is that we had a lot of plays that were there, and we'd miss one key block. What's real frusrating is when you run the ball for nine yards and then come back on the next play and run for negative two and then run it again for nine. What's going on?

We need to fix that. It's been proven in the last 120 years of playing football that if you're going to win a football game, you need to run the ball. And you need to run it when it matters. Fortunately, we were able to run it when it mattered on Saturday. It's going to matter a little more in the earlier quarters coming up in these games. Hopefully, we can pull our act together and start running the football.

We need to get the confidence back in the coaches that we can run the football. They feel better now throwing it. I watched the tapes. I don't blame them.

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DREW TATE

A couple of days removed, how do you evaluate the offense's performance from Saturday?

It wasn't good, but it wasn't just us. They had a lot of a part to do with it. Those guys were pretty good.

Do you feel like you're close?

Yeah, we're close. But that's just the way that football goes. Sometimes you have a good day and sometimes you don't.

It seemed like their game plan was to try to time their jump (when you threw the ball). How did you adjust?

I don't know. I didn't try to adjust for it much. I just tried to throw between those guys. That was it. I wasn't worried about the rush. I was just worried about what the people in the secondary were doing.

What does it do to your sight lines when there are tall defensive linemen?

I don't know. I just try to throw it in holes and pockets. That's about it.

Do you have to adjust more than somebody like Chandler that's 6-7?

I don't know. I don't know how he did. I don't know. I just know that whenever I've got a chance to put the ball in a hole, that's what I've got to do.

Do you think there are times when your height works against you?

I'm sure there is. It's got it's advantages, and it's got it's disadvantages. But that goes for a guy that's 6-6, too, probably.

Brian said you guys were frustrated in the third quarter, but got it together when it counted. Do you feel like you rebounded?

It was pretty tough in the first couple of quarters. We just kind of hit a point where we weren't doing much. Then we were just talking on the sideline and just trying to get confidence built back in of all of us. We all did a good job of going in the fourth quarter; just playing smart, moving the ball good. I don't think we had any turnovers in the fourth quarter.

Did they throw things at you that you didn't see or tweak things to give you different looks?

Maybe a couple of things, but not really. They just had so many good athletes. They played their schemes real good.

What do you expect from Illinois?

Probably about the same thing. They're doing whatever they've got to do right now to try to win some games. Some things probably haven't been going the way that they wanted to over there. Now, they're just as hungry and they want to win just as bad as we do. We can't have any turnovers and just keep the ball as long as we can.

Did you guys press on Saturday maybe when things weren't going your way?

Probably. A lot of us we're getting frustrated because things weren't going the way we wanted it to. But that happens in football. I have to do a better job of just forgetting about it and go on to the next play.


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