Brian Ferentz: One Last Lap Around the Track

16 months ago, Brian Ferentz was in a fight for his leg. After developing a serious infection following yet another surgery, Ferentz faced the reality of never playing football again at best and perhaps losing a leg at worst. He defied the odds in 2004, starting the final eight games of the season for Iowa and the Hawkeyes won each of those contests. Ferentz talks about his one final lap around the track, about living in the fishbowl that is Iowa City and much more...

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What was the reason for the switch back to center? Are you more comfortable there?

BRIAN FERENTZ: I wouldn't say that I was more comfortable there. I would say the biggest thing was that I can play guard and I can play center, Mike (Elgin) can play guard and center; I am sure that he is a better guard than me so I think that explains the switch.

What is the mental process of playing center? It has to be more than just the snaps?

BRIAN FERENTZ: Oh yeah. I think it is similar for anyone on the offensive line. But as the center you are responsible for making some of the line calls, figuring out who we will block and how we will do it, so it's a mental exercise before you snap the ball. But the good thing with us is having a guy that has played center in plenty of Big Ten games, and another guy that has done the same; it's sort of a brain trust; it makes it easier for both of us.

There is some exceptional line play in the Big Ten conference.

BRIAN FERENTZ: I think it's well respected nationally, and we play physical football and like to run it in this league. If you are going to have a successful running game, it starts with a good offensive line, as evidenced by our lack of a running game last year. That speaks to Big Ten football; if you are going to be successful in this league, you had better produce good linemen.

Does snapping the ball become second nature?

BRIAN FERENTZ: No, you have to think about it. You don't take anything for granted. I think any center has had his fair share of mistakes in a game. I will never forget against Arizona State, I scored two points for the other team; I took a shutout away from our defense. You don't forget things like that. It becomes second nature, but when you stop thinking about it, you face problems.

Do you think playing center is conducive to producing coaches?

BRIAN FERENTZ: I don't know about that, but people who are very interested in the different aspects of the game and blocking, scheming; another thing is that you have to understand defenses real well. I think this position just suits people who are more interested in picking that thing up. Some guys would rather go out there and bang heads, and there are positions for that, too. I think it's more suited for those types of players; I would hate to say cerebral. I won't show you my grades…maybe more interested.

Is it hard to believe that this is your last lap around the track, being a senior?

BRIAN FERENTZ: It's slowly but surely hitting me. But to me, its another season, but I am sure that at the end of the road I will have some emotional moments.

Have you spent much time breaking down tape at home with your father?

BRIAN FERENTZ: Not at home, but here we will do that. Maybe I spend more time with him as far as the average player as far as football goes. A lot of our conversations comes back to football; there is not a lot in lives that goes on that is not football related.

Does the Ferentz Family get to be a ‘family' in the off season?

BRIAN FERENTZ: Sure. There are vacations, but I miss most of those. I like to get out and see my brothers compete in other sports, meet up with my dad some time and catch a baseball game or something with my brothers. I would like to think that we are very close knit; unfortunately with three of us in college now, the family is breaking up a little bit. My mom makes sure we stay pretty close

What has it been like living in the fishbowl that is Iowa City when you play football for the Hawkeyes and happen to be the head coach's son?

BRIAN FERENTZ: It's not that bad. I think as long as you try to act properly most of the time…obviously, college is an environment where you want to have a little bit of fun, too. But generally, you try to keep your nose clean and do things you would normally do if you were not in a fishbowl. But obviously this situation opens you up to criticisms. It has not been that bad. It has its pros and cons. The experience I get playing on Saturday's and being a part of this team; I would not trade that for anything so I can stand to get a lot of attention in other aspects, as long as I get to play.

Iowa is 8-0 with you back in the starting lineup. Is that coincidence?

BRIAN FERENTZ: We have lost some games with me in the lineup before, trust me.

Now that the offensive line is healthy for the most part, what do you see when you look down your side of the line if you stay healthy?

BRIAN FERENTZ: You hit it on the head; staying healthy. We have a lot of experience back, but we learned the hard way in the spring of 2004, that things can change in a matter of weeks. If we can all stay healthy, we can have some more success running the football and block some people. It's not fun to watch the tape on Sunday's when we can't run; we like to run, and when we can't do that successfully, it's not quite as exciting to watch the tape. If we get everyone back and people are healthy when we roll around to September 3rd, hopefully we can change the perception of this offensive line a little bit. That is our main goal; we are not worried about the expectations at CBS, or other media outlets. What we want to do is run the football and I think we have a good chance to do that if we stay healthy.

Your health situation was pretty dicey last year, possibly somewhat dire. Is all of this a bonus for you, getting to play again and being in the best shape of your life, as you said?

BRIAN FERENTZ: Absolutely. The thing is that the further you are away from something like that, the more you tend to lose sight of it. But I have a pretty big reminder on my leg. More than anything, I love to play football and getting a chance to go out and play 11 or 12 more times, hopefully 12, is just real special for me. I will enjoy every minute of it.

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