Q: (On coming back to the program after a year off, ie: Clinton Solmon)
Kirk Ferentz: Then it's do all you can to get back, then you can have a positive outcome. Until they start throwing dirt on you, nothing's final. The big thing is, you just keep pushing forward and be accountable for whatever's happened and try to make a positive thing happen after that.
Q: Could you go through your depth chart at running back, you said each guy brings something different?
Ferentz: Marcus (Schnoor) is a very well rounded player, very adept at just about every phase of what we're doing. Not as big and strong as some of the other guys. Marques Simmons, he hits it pretty hard, that's the best thing he does. You go back to the spring game where he took that crack and took off. Albert (Young) is a little bit more diverse, he can run the ball inside but he's also pretty good in the passing game. He can get involved in the passing game. Damian (Sims) is not an exact clone of Albert, but that would be the best comparison I could give you. He's much bigger and more physical than he was a year ago at this time. Shonn (Greene) is probably a bigger, stronger runner than we've had in six years here. I was a little concerned a year ago when I heard he was heavier at Milford, I wasn't sure that was a good weight, but it look like he's pretty good. So far so good, he's handling it well.
Q: What about (Sam) Brownlee?
Ferentz: Sam is a pretty versatile guy too. If I were to clone him, it'd be closer to Marcus Schnoor, that's probably the best comparison I can give you there. The thing I've always talked about, Sam last year, ball security and pass protection were two things that we really needed last year, and he gave us. It was fantastic, he had a pretty good run on that 3rd and nine against Ohio State too.
Q: In your first few years here, you swung for the fences for that big running back in recruiting. Is (Shonn Greene) maybe that guy?
Ferentz: That remains to be seen. It's a little bit like quarterbacks, are you looking for this guy, that guy. We're looking for guys that we think are productive and then it's our job to try and steer the boat toward their skills a bit. Depending on who's in there, that's really what we're going to try and do. We don't have a "This is the guy we want" thing, we're just looking for guys that look like they're good players and are productive.
Q: Will all six guys play Sunday?
Ferentz: I don't know. It's tough, that's one of the problems. It's really hard to get more than 3 or 4 guys in the game at running back, special teams is a different story.
Q: I know this is a silly question coming from last year, but is there a chance someone like Sims could sit out?
Ferentz: It's a possibility, I wouldn't say it's an impossibility.
Q: He's the best candidate age-wise isn't he?
Ferentz: Exactly. We had to throw him in there before he was really ready last year. It's nice to have that in our pocket right now. We'll talk about that during the course of the week.
Q: Could what running back you have in the game shift personnel or shift your offense's personality?
Ferentz: To a degree, but not wholesale.
Q: How has Marshal Yanda been able to get into the mix in a group where you had a lot of experience?
Ferentz: We've had a lot of guys in an out of the lineup first of all with injuries. Then the consistent thing is, going back to the spring, he really caught on quicker than maybe I anticipated. That's not meant as a slam to Marshal, but usually when you have a newcomer come in the spring -- just based on my experience, and it's limited there, we haven't had a lot of those -- it usually takes a while for a guy tog et into the swing of things. It's a tough position mentally to play, but he's done pretty well there and he's competed physically with the guys, so he's just worked extremely hard.
Q: Have you made a call at left guard?
Ferentz: Not yet, no. I don't think anybody's staying up at night on the outside world waiting to see what we do.
Q: You'd be surprised.
Ferentz: Like they used to say in recruiting, people in Sioux City know who our right guard is, so come be our right guard, they'll care about you, we're unique.
Q: Are you comfortable with two guys being on the first line (of the depth chart) for very long?
Ferentz: Yes and no. On the defensive line, it's a lot easier, the tight end position. We know we're going to play more than four guys on the defensive line, we know we're going to play more than one tight end. Quite frankly, I hope we get to the point where we want to have four guys in the rotation at tight end if we can. Hopefully they can all do a nice job out there. There are other positions where it's pretty easy, but in the offensive line it'd be nice, in a perfect world it'd be good to settle in. Even more perfect would be to stay the whole year, like in 2002 and just have a group of guys playing together, that would really help.
Q: How have you divided up reps in the backfield?
Ferentz: I shouldn't say it helps, but it's easier when guys are out because of a hamstring or whatever, we've had that. We've had plenty of reps to give the guys work, we've had a lot of snaps now in the last three weeks, we've had a chance to evaluate them, but we're splitting them. Nobody's getting everything in there with the first team, we're splitting them up and rotating them, and that's how it's going to work out in the game.
Q: I know that (Tony) Moeaki is a Mormon. Have you guys settled on the mission situation?
Ferentz: That was a discussion in recruiting. It's a bit like red shirting that was totally a family decision. We told Tony's parents that if he chooses to do that, we're totally supportive of it. Other than that, we're staying out of it. I think right now, I won't say it's a dead issue, but I think it's not an issue at this point. I don't anticipate it.
Q: What did you see in Adam (Shada) last year? I thought maybe he was one of the least likely freshmen to play, being 170 pounds?
Ferentz: The big thing is coming off that surgery, he just went through a year from hell. He never really showed signs of going through what he went through, it didn't seem to affect him. He's a really unique guy. I say he's smart, he's one of those scary smart guys, we've got a few of them. A bit too smart for me to have conversations with, he's in that group. He's a detail guy, he's a competitive, driven guy, and that showed up on the field.
Q: So how do you tell him not to think?
Ferentz: It's easier said than done. especially when you haven't played a lot, it's common for guys to be over thinking, thinking too much. I think Drew (Tate) went through some of that, but it wasn't the direct cause of his blow-outs or burn-outs last year, but that was part of it. Those guys are high-strung guys, they're competitive, they want to do well, and it can work against you.
Q: Corners are one of those positions that's very instinct driven, isn't it?
Ferentz: It is, and then you've got to have a relief pitcher's mentality, where if you get tagged, you've got to bounce back. There's only one way to get that experience, and that's go out there and ride the bike.
Q: How do you handle it with Antwan (Allen), do you say, "Adam, you're in for now" or "Adam, if you take this, it's yours," I'd imagine it's kind of a gray area?
Ferentz: Basically our policy for the most part has been, we don't have a policy that the starters are incumbent to anything. But all that being said, we look at Antwan as our starter. The best scenario I can see is that we come out of this with three pretty good cornerbacks, that'd be a great thing. If we feel that way on Saturday night, that'd be great.
Q: You said yesterday in the release that things could change for Antwan, do you anticipate that?
Ferentz: I can't even comment on that until Friday's events take place, that would be premature.
Q: Did you have any freshman that you approached who wanted to play?
Ferentz: Not this year, the Matt Roth story? Nah, that's the only one. I don't think anybody's necessarily said, "I want to red shirt" either.
Q: You guys have left that option open as needed, I think. I'd imagine that'll stay on the table for a lot of guys until the season's over.
Ferentz: Mike Jones definitely wanted to red shirt in 2003, but when we got that last injury, we just had to make the move. That's what I mean, that's part of where we're at now, there are so many things that are going to happen this year that we can't predict now, that's where our focus goes now.
Q: From a situational standpoint, what differences are there in your punters, if you need a pooch type punt, is there one guy?
Ferentz: I'm not sure there is, no. They've both kind of handled what we threw their way. In all honesty, I'm not sure how we're going to make this decision. It might be a coin toss, I don't know. At this point it's really about the same.
Q: Are you guys almost sick of hearing about yourselves?
Ferentz: I think that's fair to say. And again, not in a disrespectful way. You've got to remember too, I'm not saying anything bad about the I-Clubs, but I go to more than my share of those. Not 'more than', but I go to a lot of them. It's a great chance to interact with fans, but you hear fan talk. I read papers like everybody else, but that's what happens in the preseason. It'll be good to flip the book here now. Once we start playing games, everybody's focus will shift to what's going on now, this season. Probably this year more than any, I'm really ready for that. I'm always ready for that. As good a year as it was, that was last year for us. We had to flip the page back in January, but I'm not complaining, I'm glad everybody's fired up about it.