Ball St Postgame: Kirk Ferentz Presser Transcript

Kirk Ferentz met with the media after a dominant performance against Ball St on Saturday. Read what the Coach had to say about the running back situation, season-ending injuries, freshman contributions and much more in this premium transcript.

Kirk Ferentz: Obviously we're very happy to get the win, I know it was a tough day for Ball State, having to come in with a depleted roster. I know how that would affect us to lost that many players and have to go play a football game. I'm sure that was a factor in the game. I thought their guys played hard, gave great effort out there. On a positive note, certainly our guys appeared ready to go, they were ready to play the game and did a pretty decent job of preparing during the week. It was good that we were able to play an awful lot of younger players. It dawned on my last night in the hotel probably for the first time just how many new faces we had up there; guys that haven't been on the weekly trips to the hotel. A lot of first and second year guys, certainly good to get them in the game. From the sideline, it looked like they pretty much knew what they were doing, I know we blew some things out there but it looked like they did a good job. Older guys like Jason Manson certainly did a nice job playing too, great to get him some work out there as well.

Q: How much did you learn about your team today?

Ferentz: I don't know how much, it's really tough to say, I think. Part of that is their depleted roster. Again, I think our guys did a good job during the week for the most part, thought the focus was where it had to be, the preparation would good, when we kicked the ball off, I thought our guys were ready to play football. For the most part, it didn't seem like we blew too many things, we'll see on the tape. There'll be a lot to correct, and again, the younger players I think it was good to get a look at them. I thought our zip on special teams looked pretty good too, so it's certainly critical.

Q: You didn't have many penalties, pretty clean from that (perspective).

Ferentz: I was talking out in the hall, I think, offensively, we haven't looked that sharp since we got started here in August, not sure I can explain that, but I thought the execution looked a little crisper than it's been during camp and the preseason. When we don't have penalties, that's a good indicator that guys have been paying attention and were paying attention today, they were focused on what they were doing and played a pretty clean game which is nice to see.

Q: How would you assess the play of your defensive line today?

Ferentz: It's tough to judge it, totally. I thought they were giving good effort, playing with good effort. It's really tough to make a total assessment, it was a good positive start.

Q: You put Alex Kanellis in there.

Ferentz: Yeah, that's a couple news items we had. Ettore Ewen, we announced, wouldn't be ready today and it looks right now like he's going to have an ACL repair. That happened, we got that news Tuesday afternoon, Tuesday evening after practice. So that affected our thinking there a little bit, we've been looking at a lot of our guys in the depth chart and so we've made the decision to go ahead and play Alex (Kanellis) and Ryan Bain. Same thing on the offensive side, Dace Richardson missed the week of practice that Ben Gates had missed after the scrimmage on the 20th, both hurt their ankles that week. They really didn't get back into the lineup until last Tuesday. Just watching Dace practice, it's going to be a long season we just made the decision with all three of those guys that if we had the opportunity, we'd go ahead and play them. Add those two to the Tony Moeaki and Shonn Green list.

Q: Can you talk about Sims out at cornerback?

Ferentz: That's another thing that just kind of transpired during the week. I was asked about that on Tuesday, we were in the middle of discussions at that point so it really wasn't fair to say at that point that he wasn't a running back. He got over the hurdle, I guess, Tuesday afternoon and he's jumped in full throttle, he's going to be a defensive back now. An agreement we have with him, he's more than welcome to come back (to the backfield) in January but I think right now with our situation at corner, we just wanted to see if we could shore that up a little bit, create some more depth. Also, the running back situation, the way it came along during camp, we thought that was a move we could make and strengthen our football team. His attitude's been great the last 3 or 4 days, and I think he's excited about it, and we're still going to use it as a returner as well.

Q: Any other injuries?

Ferentz: I think we came out of this thing pretty good. (Clinton Solomon's) seemed to be very minor, Ben Cronin tweaked his knee a little bit, it looks to be very minor also, we'll know more on that tonight or tomorrow, but I think we came out of this thing pretty clean, fortunately.

Q: Has Jovon (Johnson) ever lobbied to return punts?

Ferentz: He's been back there fielding them, he hasn't lobbied yet, but that's probably coming now. He's been fielding them, he and Clinton Solomon and Ed Hinkel have all been fielding them, obviously Herb (Grigsby) too. Jovon did it in High School, that was one of the things that really caught our eye watching him play in high school. I guess it's one Erie guy to another if you Hinkel to Jovon, but he may have scored a few points, I don't know. He did a pretty nice job on that thing.

Q: Shonn Green looked great.

Ferentz: It was a great experience for him, he's been a guy who's really been improving with each opportunity. He came on strong I think after the scrimmage on the 20th, he practiced all that 3rd week of camp and had a good week this week. He got gassed out there a little bit today. First time for him to play in Kinnick like a lot of the guys, and that was a good experience for him. He put the ball on the ground that one time, which we can't have that, but overall I thought he did a great job and as you can see he's a pretty strong guy out there, a pretty strong runner.

Q: Did you expect (a 100 yard game from Greene)?

Ferentz: I really didn't know what to expect coming in. I wasn't quite sure how things would shake out. The way things developed there in the 2nd quarter, we picked up the score on the punt return, and had a short field on the one touchdown. That kind of dictated how the game was going to be played out a little bit, but it did give us a great chance to work Shonn and that was really good. I don't know if we could have scripted that any better, it was good experience for him and good work.

Q: Had (Ball St) shown that quick kick before?

Ferentz: No, we hadn't seen it. It really was a pretty good thought and pretty well executed, just a crazy bounce of the ball and next thing you know, Jovon took off. It was a good play on their part up until then.

Q: Did you think you might have to punt on third down at some point just to see what they could do?

Ferentz: We thought so. It ended up that we did a couple times there, and now it's as cloudy as it was before the game, really both guys John and Andy did a nice job with their opportunities.

Q: How did you feel about your running backs?

Ferentz: Good. It looked like Albert (Young) was hitting it pretty good, I already talked about Shonn, Marcus (Schnoor) looked anxious, like a guy that hasn't played. His eyes probably got real big, got his pads out over his feet a little bit, but he'll get that back, he just hasn't played. We have great faith and trust in him, and Sam Brownlee ran hard, and the fullbacks. Our fullbacks, I haven't talked much about them, but Tom Busch has had an excellent camp. Champ Davis has been a real surprise too, we thought that'd be a longer road getting him back, and he's done a nice job. Paul Wilson's done some nice things, Kevin Sherlock's been fighting injuries, so it was great to get those guys back and get them involved.

Q: Marques Simmons was out for the game.

Ferentz: Marques is still suffering from a leg strain. I think I mentioned that Tuesday, we thought it would clear up by now, but it hasn't. We're hopeful with this rest and hopefully rest him tomorrow, he'll be ready to go next week. We don't see it being something that's going to linger on, but you never can tell.

Q: How was it having Larry Station back?

Ferentz: Fantastic, he looks like he did when he walked out of here in 1985. He put the pads on him, not that he needs em. He could jump in there and play. As you might imagine, he did a great job yesterday with the football team, just delivered a great message, he's just a very impressive guy. He was that way when he walked in here in 1982, just great to have him with us.

Q: Is this the kind of tune-up you want for Iowa State? Did you see what you needed to see?

Ferentz: We don't have any control over that, I thought the guys did a good job in the circumstances, I'm proud of them, that's all you can ask for. You always worry about the guys getting enough work, that type of thing, but based on the way things played out to day, I don't have an awful lot to complain about. I'm sure we'll have a lot to correct tomorrow, but that's part of the deal.

Q: Is this a harder game to coach when it's this lopsided?

Ferentz: I don't know that it's harder. In fact, I can answer, it's not harder. We've been on some harder ends, we've been on the other end of a couple scores like that and that's not a lot of fun. This is definitely better, the big thing, there are only a couple things you can look for from the team, and I think we saw those today. Then the big positive is a chance for guys to get involved in the game and play. That maybe wouldn't have in other circumstances, that's a real positive.

Q: What do you think heated the offense so early in the game?

Ferentz: We had a couple good drives right off the bat, and I don't know that I could have predicted it mainly because when I watch them practice, we've done some things well at times, but we haven't been consistent at all. It's hard to explain that, it really is, because I think we have the parts, it's just a matter of getting everything together, and establishing a little bit of a rhythm. I think we took some steps in that direction today, it wasn't perfect but we made some progress and we'll have a lot of work to do certainly, in the weeks ahead.

Q: Is Ed Hinkel's job as a returner in jeopardy?

Ferentz: Jovon may be politicking, we talked about that a little while ago, he may be lobbying for that position, and quite frankly, we'd have total confidence. Jovon's a guy who makes great decisions, he'd be excellent back there if we end up getting to that point.

Q: Talk about that run back, as it's going on, what did you see?

Ferentz: A little bit of a flashback to him in high school, that's the kind of play he made in high school. He did an awful lot of things for his team with the ball in his hands, from the quarterback position, the return position. He's a guy that just has a knack for making plays.

Q: When he first touched the ball did you say, "Oh No" or did you say "Yeah Yeah"?

Ferentz: The way the ball bounced, I didn't blame him at all, I thought it was a good decision. Then what happened after, then that's probably the disadvantage of a quick kick like that, you don't have your cover unit in. That's the flip-side, you're a little more vulnerable to a return if it should pan out. It's just a freak play, basically, the way the thing ended up in his hands.

Q: What about Moeaki's performance?

Ferentz: He seemed to be solid. It's tough to grade it from the sideline, but it seemed like all the first year guys looked like they felt like they were in the right place. They felt at home out there, it's good to get that first game anxiety out of them. Every player goes through it, I don't care if you're talking about Matt Kroul, who's been here a year of practice and he traveled, all that stuff, or a guy like Tony Moeaki, a guy who just got here four weeks ago, it's a great experience for those guys.

Q: Overall, how satisfied are you with the way this game played out?

Ferentz: Again, it goes back to the start of the week, I think the preparation was there, their attitudes seemed to be good, but you're never quite sure until the game starts where a team's at. Again, I thought we looked fairly sharp and looked like we were hustling on special teams too, which is a good indicator. It seemed like there was a lot of nuances that I didn't talk about. The stadium, the warm up at the other end, all those things too that we try not to dwell on, but the guys seemed to handle things in stride, that's a positive, certainly.

Q: Ball State announces yesterday the suspensions, how did the team react to that, what did you tell them about it?

Ferentz: Again, we didn't talk much about it, it's typical of the first game, not being able to hone in on what the personnel might be, what guy's going to be at what position. If there's a positive in that, it's that it caused out guys to be flexible mentally a little bit, just kind of communicate with us what they're seeing, that type of thing. There's a good experience in that. Again, we try not to dwell too much on those outside circumstances.

Q: What's your take on the defensive line?

Ferentz: Hard to evaluate, but it looked like they played hard. It didn't look like we just flat out blew anything, so that's a positive start. I thought they played hard, I thought they were doing the things they were supposed to do, giving good effort. It's good for them to get their feet wet and get going.

Q: Are all positions hard to evaluate in a game like this?

Ferentz: I don't know. I think you don't have as much to evaluate, that's probably the best way to say it. We only have 60-70 snaps. That's the next test, how's a guy playing the fourth quarter, third quarter, those types of things. We didn't get a lot of that look today. We're not complaining. The flip side is that you get to see a lot of other guys play, that's a positive there.

Q: Did it feel like the Belmont Stakes on the sideline too, the field looked pretty bad.

Ferentz: I don't know much about the Belmont, they run on grass?

Q: It looked pretty bad out there.

Ferentz: The turf was coming up, we've had some problems with that.

Q: Is it going to be re-sodded?

Ferentz: I don't know anything about that, I really don't.

Q: Is that something you guys worry about with all the ACLs from last year?

Ferentz: Maybe we should have had all those problems last year, I don't know. The turf was pretty good last year, we still had those injuries, I don't know much about it.

Q: Sam Brownlee got his first touchdown today, how happy are you for him to get not only one, but two touchdowns?

Ferentz: Sam has worked so hard, I think I've talked about last year he was so dependable, did a great job, very tough circumstances. It was great to see him have some success out there. He's got to feel good about that, and should.

Q: Shonn Greene got a lot of reps today also.

Ferentz: Same thing, it was good work for him, first game he was a little bit gassed, just a bit through the anxiety factor, and we worked him pretty hard too. That's a great experience for him, invaluable. He's a guy that we're going to keep in the rotation.

Q: You have the cyclones next, what do you see from Iowa State?

Ferentz: They're an excellent football team. I think both teams improved greatly last year from the game we played here in Iowa City. Probably the biggest difference is we were hit harder by graduation losses than they were. They've got a very veteran ball club coming back, they had great success last year. I know they're anxious to build on it, it's going to be a great challenge for us, plus we'll be on the road. Playing over there is a challenge just like coming here is a challenge for opponents. We'll have to step it up a couple notches this week, but we knew that 10 months ago, that's what's ahead of us.

Q: Did you like the effort out of the team?

Ferentz: I do, I think the guys came to play today and worked hard. I didn't see anybody look like they were dragging at all, it looked like everybody was hustling and working hard and doing the things they were supposed to do.

Q: (On a clean game)

Ferentz: I looked down, I think we had one penalty, maybe there was something late. That was good to see, certainly. Turnovers, we had a bit of a problem on the pass protection with the ball being stripped of Drew and Shonn on that one too. We'll need to clean that up a little bit, but I thought overall the guys were ready to go.

Q: Did you get what you expected out of this?

Ferentz: You can't evaluate how guys are going to play in the fourth quarter, second half. We didn't get a lot of guys working in that fourth quarter, second half. All you can do is handle the circumstances in front of you, and I think the guys did a pretty good job with that.

Q: Did you see anything to clear up that 3rd wide receiver, Calvin (Davis) and Herb (Grigsby) both looked good today.

Ferentz: No, I think they're both doing a good job, so that's pretty good. Eric McCollom is doing a nice job, we're going to need 5 or 6 guys. It was nice to see Andy Brodell get involved a little bit, not only receiving, but blocking as well. He's a guy who's made great progress too. We're going to need at least five or six guys that we feel comfortable getting into the game. I think those guys, the younger guys, are making strides in the right direction which is a positive.

Q: Iowa State last year coming down to the final drive, is that something you prepare for in terms of planning for that?

Ferentz: When you play a game, like the one we have coming up, it's going to be a 60-minute affair, maybe more than that, I'd be surprised if it wasn't. We have to be ready to switch gears here now and realize that this was, for most of our guys, not many veteran guys got more than 30-35 plays. Certainly it's going to be a little heavier duty next week. It's going to be a full 60-minute game, and expect a lot of substitution, both teams will be competing at their highest.

Q: Is that a concern of yours, not getting enough reps?

Ferentz: Not really, no. It's a long season, I'm not too worried about that, I think our conditioning level has been pretty good. We can make up for that a little bit, but I'm not too worried about that. The positive is that our younger guys who probably needed the work, got the work, that's a pretty good thing.

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