Ferentz Grab Bag

Kirk Ferentz on numerous topics.

Q: Who will call the coin flip?

KF: I have not thought about that. I have until 2:30 on Saturday to figure that out. We will have somebody designated. (joking about last week's snafu, where Iowa wanted to take the wind if it won the toss, but that did not get communicated)

Q: With all of the ACL injuries, are you and your staff planning a review of what is being done in the weight room?

KF: Related to injuries, we will look at every possible contributor to the problem. The way that I look at it is this; we are not doing anything differently philosophically, whether it be weightlifting, the way that we practice, etc. It's the same surface that we played and practiced on in 2002 and we went through that year pretty much injury free.

We have had more than one ACL injury every year, but the reason that it's so dramatic to everyone now is that it's all at the same position. It's pretty unusual to have them happen at the same position, especially four guys that were playing. When you have that, it magnifies it. We have had other teams on campus that have had multiple ACL's; unfortunately it's a part of sports. But we will look at everything.

Q: Squatting would seem to put the most stress on the knee.

KF: I am no expert in the field, Chris Doyle is; but I think squatting is critical to developing leg strength, which is critical to preventing injury. We work towards injury prevention; that is our number one goal with our strength and conditioning program. My heartfelt feelings are that it's the nature of the beast, and some years are worse than others.

Q: Is it a technical question?

KF: The injuries have been different. The first three were non-contact, and Champ's was more vintage; like in the old days, guys falling on someone and an impact causing the injury, but the other three weren't. It's hard to say ‘this is what it is'.

Q: Are you guys wearing the same cleats as in recent years?

KF: We are like everyone else in the country, as you know, we are endorsed by…I guess that I am allowed to say Nike, I will probably get a bonus point for saying that. We are a Nike team, and I would venture to say that they have 85-percent of the market; I am just guestimating on that. Other people have the same problems. I am not an expert in the shoe industry, but I have a feeling that the other guys have the same products and the same shoes, and the NFL people are having the same problems.

But we will look at everything.

Q: Are you going to start having open tryouts at running back?

KF: It's probably a little late for that. Are you talking about on our team or the student body? I think it's late for that. But hopefully we can weather the storm.

I remember Pittsburgh one year had a great football team, a year where they didn't win the Superbowl, maybe in 1975 or 1976. They made it to Oakland, and I think they had one back that was able to play. Fortunately, we won't be playing in December, or at least I hope we are not. They got beat by Oakland, but it might have been the best Steeler team ever, had they been healthy.

I am not suggesting that this is the best Iowa team, but they went through a similar circumstance. I remember that as a kid.

Q: Talk about the development of Taylor Strube and others.

KF: Hopefully it happens fast, in Taylor's case. I say that jokingly. He has been working with our one's, two's and three's since camp started in August. He is going to do fine. We may have an Emmetsburg backfield at some point. I don't know if coach Twait is busy this week, maybe he can come down and help us out. Coach Steen is very busy, I know that. Two out of the four guys that are healthy are from Emmetsburg. Thank goodness for Emmetsburg; you throw in Steen and Nelson on top of those two, and they have been pretty good to us.

Q: Didn't he come out of high school around 190-pounds, and he is now up to over 230?

KF: I think he finished up around 210, somewhere in that ballpark. He was an excellent track competitor and very explosive for his size. Taylor is a good prospect, and we have high hopes for him. I will be honest with you, we were not planning on him being in the two deep at this time of the season. If he had done that because of his ascension, that would be great, but part of the problem has been injuries. He will do a good job; I am not worried about him and I have already said that I don't worry about Sam.

Q: Has Sam (Brownlee) played his way into a scholarship?

KF: I think that is premature and inappropriate to talk about right now. He has played well, that is where our focus is right now.

Q: What is the prognosis on Marques Simmons and when he might be back?

KF: Anything could happen. He could be back somewhere before the season is up, but you get those serious ankle injuries, and Mike Klinkenborg has something similar, I think you are looking at a lot of gray area. And to play a position like running back with 80-percent mobility, that is really a stretch. It's hard enough for linemen, but I think for a back it's really tough. If I had a guess, I would say that we will get him back on the field healthy in December.

Q: Being that it is election day, did any candidates ask for your endorsement?

KF: Laugh. Nobody did, and I think being a public servant, that would be in violation of what I am supposed to do. Plus, I think most of those candidates are trying to win.

Q: Did your team take any precautions against the flu this year?

KF: We actually got flu shots the day before the shortage was announced. I think it was announced on a Tuesday, and our guys had gone through that on Monday. I think they all got them, so hopefully that is OK, knock on wood. Last year was a different strain, wasn't it? I think our guys all got the shots last year, too, but it was a different strain. We will just hang loose. It was an exciting time of year last year right about now, so who knows. Anything can happen.

Q: Talk about your special teams play.

KF: I thought that we played a lot better on Saturday. That is two weeks in a row where the kickoff team has played better and the way they are capable of. We are making some strides, but we didn't play well in the punt game at Penn State. We talked about pulling it together last week and getting some consistency in that department. We have three extremely tough ballgames in front of us, so big picture wise, it's critical. If we are going to get it done, we have to get it done now, otherwise we will not be able to compete. I think our guys understand that.

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