Ferentz Meets the Media in Iowa City

"First of all, I apologize for keeping you waiting, that was not intentional and I apologize on that one. I do remember when this event used to be the kickoff to practice and obviously it's changed with the rules being what they are now. We are up and running, it's been great to get started and we're excited to get the guys out on the field, I think they're excited about today as well. This always gets them going a little bit..."(read the rest from Kirk Ferentz)

A couple things of note. Obviously one big one, the Kinnick Renovation Project, it's been extremely exciting for everyone involved in the program. I know all our players and coaches are all very enthused about it. It's been very fun to watch it as it's progressed throughout the year and we're all anxious. This will actually be our first time inside the stadium, like most of you, since the project's gotten going. We're looking forward to that, I think that's going to be an awful lot of fun. Obviously the Chicago Big Ten Media Luncheon or outing last week, it's pretty apparent that conference looks extremely strong.

A couple things that have happened here recently. I think we've had a good summer overall, we're anxious to get out on the field, we've been out on the field a couple practices now, and we're still really in the beginning stages certainly. I think this past year has gone extremely well for us in from just about every standpoint possible. Our guys have really done a nice job academically, I think they've done a good job with their training, they seem like they're eager and anxious to being the season and the preparation that has to go into it. It's great to be out there, I think medically as well we're in fairly decent shape. The only guy that's really not able to participate at all is Chris Brevi, he had a foot injury that's been nagging throughout the spring. He's working up now but I don't think we'll actually see him do anything football wise until after the start of class. Outside of that we're doing fairly well. We've had some guys that have had the knee procedures, Chris Brevi, Mike Humpal, Champ Davis at the end of the season. They're all kind of nursing their way in, but they are active and they are working, so that part's been good.

I feel like I've been talking about our team for months, and I guess that's probably the way it's been. Things haven't changed an awful lot, I think the focal points right now are certainly defensively, we're working hard to find replacements for four excellent senior starters that played for us. I think we have a good group of guys working right now, their attitudes have been good, they're eager. I think they made improvements and strides back in the spring and certainly we're anxious to see what the next couple weeks look like. The good news is we've got a pretty good supporting cast, a veteran experienced supporting cast around those guys. Namely inside we've got Abdul (Hodge) and Chad (Greenway) and then also on the outside with Jovon Johnson and Antwan Allen, guys that are very experienced, and probably as experienced any four guys that we've had come back on defense. That's helped, Marcus Paschal played well last year, Miguel Merrick jumped in and did some good things, Charles Godfrey is a guy, like Ed Miles that we think has a good future. I think the pieces are there, it's just a matter of us working through it and getting some answers.

Offensively right now certainly we're more experienced than we've been the last two years, probably the most experienced group we've had since 2002. We don't have a marquee lineman like a Gallery or probably even a Steinbach, but we think we have a good group of guys that are experienced and we're really confident they're going to play well. Anxious to see how that thing settles out. The tight end position, right know we've got 3 or 4 guys that are vying for playing time there, again we're enthused about that. A couple veterans on the outside with Ed Hinkel and Clinton Solomon, both have played very well for us. Guys like Calvin Davis who I thought was really coming on last year prior to his injury, we've got him back, and obviously guys like Eric McCollom, Herb Grigsby who had good springs. Excited about that. Then in the backfield, obviously we're anxious to see how the running back situation pans out. Everybody right now is practicing, they look good, appear to be healthy, and it's a little bit of anew experience as coaches. We haven't had this same group together, minus the freshmen, since last camp. It's good to see Marcus Schnoor and Albert Young out there to go along with the guys that practiced in the spring, Marques Simmons, Sam Brownlee and Damian Sims. Then we have a bunch of newcomers we're eager to look at. Obviously the quarterback position right now we're in maiden territory there too, having a guy that started every game last year for us and did some really good things.

All those pieces together we're anxious to see how things shake out and what kind of progress we can make during camp. Special teams wise, the other obvious question is what's going to happen to our punting game with David Bradley graduating. The good news again I think is that Andy Fenstermaker and John Gallery did well in December, not just in the spring, but in December, which really influenced our decisions in terms of recruiting. We're very confident that whoever ends up winning the job will do well, and I think we have a good 1-2 punch there. Certainly we're counting on Kyle Schlicher to do a good job as well in his second year as a start for us. That's the team in a nutshell.

Camp is an important time, it's a fun time for us as coaches, maybe not as fun for the players, a lot of hard work and basically their time is spent on football, sleeping or eating, it's pretty simple for them. It's really an important time for a football team to get some questions answered over the course of the next 20 some workouts, we're going to learn a lot more about our football team, it's a natural process. Again, a real enjoyable time. Those guys never mind when school starts either, but it's a fun time for us.

The last thing to comment on is our schedule. I go back again to Chicago, my 7th year in the conference now since returning, I don't think we've ever seen the conference look any stronger. So many quarterbacks that are pretty good performers are back, a lot of outstanding players at all positions are back. I think it's the kind of year right now where realistically, teams could be better, any team in our conference could be better than a year ago and not have a record that indicates that kind of improvement. It's going to be very interesting, as all of us know, a lot of things can happen between now and November, now and December. That's part of the fun of it, see how things shake out, what have you.

With that being said, I'll throw it out for questions.

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