QUOTES FROM KIRK FERENTZ
Obviously we had concerns the way they were moving the football. They really did a fantastic job, especially in the second half. For Chad to come up and make that big play, it ended up being the difference. They had us on our heels, there's no question about that.
On Minnesota's running game
It was what we expected. They've done a great job running the football all season long, other than when they've fallen behind. It's tough to run the ball and be patient when you fall behind, but today was a close ball game. They stuck with what's been good to them. They did a great job A: with their scheme, B: their offensive line executes extremely well, and I think we've also seen C: that they've got two excellent running backs back there. Both those guys are dangerous.
How is your running back situation?
I'm happy to say better than it was last week at this time. We had a little scare with Sam. They did an xray on him, it came back negative, so he has a mild sprain (ankle). I think he has a good chance to be ready to go, and Aaron Mickens, obviously, was able to play today too, so we're up one from last week, so that's a positive.
I said last week after the game, although he had some problems, I thought he kicked with confidence last week; obviously he did today. What a great job there, and it's a little bit, I'm not saying it's the same as, but a little bit like what Nate Kaeding went through back in 2000. We saw him grow each and every week. Kyle's play today was a big difference in the ball game certainly.
On if he has ever been involved in a season quite like this
Not that I can remember, and I told the guys right after the game, we're definitely not a statistic team, and believe me, I'm not too worried about that, other than points allowed points scored, turnovers and penalties, that's probably the big thing we're focusing on right now, and then obviously wins and losses. So, it's just one of those years where we're just trying to find some way to get the job done.
Another example of a guy stepping in there today, James Townsend jumping in there, making a big play, the defense came up with a lot of big plays, and we're just not gonna have any easy games; that's the nature of it, and credit Minnesota. I thought they played extremely hard, especially in the second half. That could have gone either way. They came out and really outplayed us in that second half. We were fortunate to get out of there with a win.
Thoughts on Minnesota's success in the second half
I guess you have to have faith in your players and things didn't work out quite the way we wanted to, but on the other hand, we had our defense out there, which has been our strength all season long. We had a chance maybe to make a stop on defense and find a way to win the football game and that's really what happened.
Again, I don't even know what the stats were. I know they had success running the football, but when we had to have it, we had it again (not sure what that means) Somehow, someway, we're sitting here with eight wins and they can't take them back and Floyd's coming home with us, so it's been a heck of a trip. We're the first team to beat these guys at home, and they've been extremely tough at home, so we can be very proud of that.
On Chad Greenway's big tackle for loss plays before the missed field goal
Obviously it was a big, big play in the football game, and probably no surprise that a guy like Chad made the play, but it could have been one of many guys on our football team making the play. Chad happened to have the hot hand on that play and made it for us.
On the play of Drew Tate
I think probably his worst play of the game was taking the sack down there in the plus-20 area, yet we were able to overcome it and came back and got the (49-yard) field goal, but that's a great learning experience. But you know really the key stat for Drew is that he took care of the football in a great way. We didn't have one turnover today. That's really going to be major for the way we're playing right now. To do that as a first-year starter, that's pretty impressive.
On successful third down conversions on the day
I haven't seen the stats, but no question it was important and I think it's a combination of our protection was pretty solid for the most part. Drew continues to play well at quarterback, and our receivers have really stepped up. They're making plays when we need them, which again, the way that we're playing right now that's paramount.
On the magnitude of next week's game against Wisconsin
It's getting a little bigger with every win, so it's just great to be going home certainly. We certainly enjoy playing in Kinnick, and it's a late kickoff, 3:30, I know our fans are going to be ready to go. They were great today.
On Schlicher starting his assault on being the best kicker from Iowa
I'll tell ya, he's following a pretty good one (laughs) so we're going to hold on the judgment there, but I was asked about him earlier, the one thing that I will say, my guess is Nate's really proud of what he did today. Nate was in the office yesterday. It's their bye week. What an outstanding guy he is. What a great role model he was for Kyle. And I said last week after the ballgame, I really thought Kyle kicked with confidence and great focus. I liked the way he was aggressive last week. I know he had a couple misses, but I just thought his focus improved with each week and he came up big today obviously.
On the passing game
I don't know how many pass attempts we had, but Drew, no interceptions, which was major, and really the only mistake he made from my novice viewpoint taking the sack when we had the ball on the 20, but we got out of that one and it's a great learning experience for a first- year player.
How important was it to have Nate around to groom Kyle
It really was. That was one of our biggest concerns coming into this year. You lose guys like Kaeding, Gallery and Bob Sanders, all three of those guys great performers, but what they brought to our football team, that was my biggest concern of any coming into the year was just the void that we would have, let alone the performance level. The void that those guys left, what they contributed, somehow we've been able to overcome and that's the kind of football team we are right now. We need every edge, so to have a field goal kicker step up and do what he did today, that really was helpful. Needless to say it was the difference in the ball game.
On comparing Kyle and Nate
The only thing I'd say was back in 2000 it wasn't a smooth course for Nate. He had his ups and downs, peaks and valleys. I really thought he grew up at Penn State that year over there when we beat them in 2000. I really thought that was his coming out party, the day he really grew up and gained the confidence. Again, I thought last week, and this is just a feeling you get on the field, I know the stats weren't great last week, maybe. But I thought the way he was carrying himself, i thought the one that hit the goalpost; I thought he attacked it. That's just the feeling, the sense you get from him, it felt like he's ready to play Big Ten football now, he's at that point, and then today he had a great day needless to say. I thought last week, I just sensed something a little different and you know I'm not a mind reader or any of that stuff, but just the feeling you have.
I've said this before, probably the single best thing for Kyle was the fact that he got to work with Nate. And then we made the decision to recruit Kyle, obviously at that time, we didn't need a kicker. It was kind of a luxury item thing. The part of our strategy, we talked about as a staff, A: we thought he was a real quality prospect, so it didn't make sense not to recruit a guy that we thought could help us down the road, and then B: the side benefit, even though he was overlapped a year plus the redshirt, we felt like the side benefit would be, what a great opportunity for him to shadow Nate Kaeding and learn form a guy like Nate Kaeding. Just like a chance to learn from Gallery, what a great thing that is for a young player. We really saw a lot of benefit in the situation, and I'm assuming Kyle would probably tell you he learned an awful lot from Nate, and I'm sure David (Bradley) did too.