Ferentz: Not Ready to Give In to the Dark Side

Part One of Kirk Ferentz's weekly meeting with the Iowa media.

Early in the season, you saw a considerable number of run blitzes to try and slow down your running game. When was the last time you saw a run blitz?

Some blitzes are dual purpose, but we have not seen an awful lot of it. Wisconsin is really not a bit blitz team; at least they haven't been. I said that about Minnesota, and they kind of stayed to their percentages. Wisconsin doesn't have to rely on the blitz much, because of the front four they have. Those guys do a great job of harassing the quarterback and getting pressure. I am sure we will see some, but to answer the question, we have not seen a lot of it. People are not real concerned about our running game right now, probably for good reason.

On Saturday, your play fakes seemed important and they played roles in getting your receivers open. Teams are still biting on your run play fakes. Why?

I think play action fakes are play action fakes. You go around in coaching sometimes, and it's the same thing with some gadget plays. I think all of us have had discussions in meetings saying ‘that play action, we really don't run the play that comes off of that play action'. But it's just part of football; defensive players tend to react towards that, as long as it is in the right down and distances situation.

Have you finally come over to the other side? (admitting that Iowa is a passing team)

What side is that? The Dark Side? I am on the side of whatever it takes to get it done. That is the name of the game. Where I am at right now, it's our job as coaches to be realistic about who and what we are each and every day and week. That is where we are. I don't think things are going to change an awful lot throughout this week. We will have a chance to regroup in December and see where we are at, but I think we are pretty much on a given path at this point.

Does that change your philosophy going down the road?

No, our goal will always be to be balanced. If we have a veteran running back and an inexperienced quarterback, you lean in the other direction maybe. Hopefully here in the near future, if not this year, maybe next year, we will be back in the situation where we can start out with balance in mind, and be a little healthier up front, where we can get things the way we want to get them. How the season goes is dictated by your personnel.

Does not having a consistent running game make things especially tricky in the red zone?

Yeah, it doesn't help. It makes our run meetings a little shorter. It was a factor on Saturday. That was a big difference in the ballgame; if we could have punched it in a couple of times, it would have been real helpful. Give Minnesota credit, they did a great job.

How short are those running back meetings?

We still meet. It's an exercise, and we just do it to do it. Kind of like fantasy football, and saying ‘this is what we would really like to go with here', and then we start to pare it down. We will still do the exercise.

Do you think Sam Brownlee might have gotten in when Damien came up short?

He might have had a chance. Sam has really done a good job for us. I was joking just now, but the one thing I don't want to do…the guys are giving everything they have got, and I think Sam has done an excellent job for us. Tom Busch has really stepped up and getting Aaron Mickens back…we will be OK. We are not going to abandon it totally.

What do you appreciate most about the senior class?

I really think the growth that they have exhibited this year. We came in knowing it was a small group in terms of numbers. Last year, we came in with three real marquee performers, or four if you add Fred Russell in, and he showed what he could do in 2002. We didn't quite have the marquee guys that we had coming in, but a year ago, I said this about Robert Gallery; he came in as a good player, but he grew as a person and as a leader in his senior year.

I think we have seen this class grow from their on the field contributions, but more so off the field. I think they really demonstrated a lot for us. We also knew that our younger guys were going to have to step up and that we would need some leadership from them, too and I think we are. When it is all said and done, your seniors steer the car. They have done a great job. It got bumpy there, but we have gone straight ahead. I can't thank them enough.

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