Q: You've got a former player up at UNI. Is there anyone I'm missing? You're starting a tree.
Kirk Ferentz: We have a bunch of guys at Ellsworth right now, NIACC, a lot of the guys that have played in the last couple years are getting involved in coaching. Tony Burrier's down at Western Illinois. We try to counsel these guys, they didn't listen. They don't listen as players, they don't listen after they're done playing.
Q: Obviously they learned a lot here, there's something there?
Ferentz: It's great that they have an interest and they all obviously share a love for the game and like working with people. I think it's a great thing, I'm really happy for them.
Q: Do you really tell them not to do it?
Ferentz: I'm just joking when I'm saying that. At least guys that have played much, like my own sun, the guys that played at least see the down side of being a coach too as opposed to a fan who just sees "Boy, you show up on Saturday and the band's playing" and all that stuff. The players, they know the hardships and the families really know it too.
Q: Doesn't look like there's any talking Brian (Ferentz) out of it.
Ferentz: No, absolutely not, which is great. I think he'll do fine, I'm really happy for him. He knows better than any and he's been through the downside. Several times. Several levels.
Q: When a guy gets dinged like Drew did, do you have to watch him a little more closely now?
Ferentz: I don't think it's that big of a deal unless you get recurring problems, which can happen. We have no reason to think that's ever going to be the case. I talked to dick (Olin) his step dad yesterday, he told me he's never had any history of it. Typically, to me, it's pretty much like spraining your ankle as long as it heals, you move on, I don't think there's any reason to be alarmed?
Q: Was (Drew) out of it? Could you tell?
Ferentz: Just to walk up, no. I mean, he started asking questions then it becomes apparent. Like anybody who gets hit, we've probably all been there at some point, you get dinged.
Q: Was he out?
Ferentz: No, not to my knowledge. I think he was fine I don't think he was ever out. You're not quite there, your capabilities aren't there.
Q: When you get the Steve Youngs, the Troy Aikmans, what precipitates those progressions? Every player gets dinged, but...
Ferentz: I'm not a doctor, but to me, if it becomes a habitual thing, it's probably not a good sign. Quarterbacks don't get hit quite as much so it's a little different. I'm standing here today, I can't think of a player in six and a half years now where we've had a problem. We've had a lot of concussions in practice, especially in the preseason, it's just really typically, it's one of the leading injuries, unfortunately. Usu7ally a guy misses 3 or 4 days, that's just the protocol. I think we're a lot further ahead on protocol that we were say a decade ago, which is good. Part of that's the things you were talking about, heightened awareness.
Q: Does Drew need tackling lessons/
Ferentz: Hopefully not, no.
Q: Do you spend a lot of extra time this week on the ball security stuff?
Ferentz: It's kind of like I read about some drills today. We do l security drills, we do takeaway drills, some weeks you'd say "OK, they did them" and other weeks you'd say, "Boy, they must not do it." We actually do blocking drills every day, and tackling drills. (Laughs) Some games it looks like we did them and some games it looks like we didn't. We're not really changing our routine, our routine's worked pretty well.
Q: Your offensive line, are you fairly secure in the people that are in there or is there some switching around, moving around?
Ferentz: We're looking at everything all the time. Anytime we perform (as an entire team) like we did the other day, you always look at things a little closer. I shouldn't say closer, you look at the facts. I think we have healthy competition on our team as much as any team we've been around. That's probably a positive. We'll see who practices the best and go from there.
Q: Where's David Walker in the equation?
Ferentz: We're still waiting for him to go through full practices. He's still practicing on a limited basis. It's been that way all since the start of camp back in early August. It's a little bit like Matt Melloy and Marques Simmons has been gone a couple weeks now. When guys can't perform and practice it's really hard to evaluate them and it's really hard to say, "OK, we can count on 70 snaps out of this guy next week." He's missed an awful lot of practice time, he's trying to work his was back in.
Q: Is it the foot still?
Q: It's pretty rare for a freshman to start on the line, but that's what Seth Olsen did last week, can you talk about what he did to get in there?
Ferentz: First of all, what he didn't do, Ben Gates sprained his ankle Tuesday in practice, unfortunately. Ben was able to play a little bit but he didn't get much work last week. That pretty much made that an easy decision. On the positive side, Seth's a guy obviously we were very high on him last year, he did a nice job. He's really practiced well since school began, he's had three real good weeks of practice. I thought given the circumstances, given his experience level, he really played a nice game Saturday. Was it perfect? No, but we're really excited about his future. Smart, conscientious, works hard.
Q: Is Ben ready to go this week?
Ferentz: We expect so, yeah. He said he felt great yesterday. I'd expect him to practice full today, I just hope nobody falls on anything.
Q: Is it the same one that's been bothering him with surgeries and stuff?
Ferentz: He sprained this thing back on (August 20th) at the scrimmage and the other day it was just a movement thing, it wasn't like someone landed on him. Usually somebody falls on you and you get those, but it was a movement thing. You can't plan for that.
Q: When you pull the guys together on Sunday, do you remind them of all the goals out there still left to attain?
Ferentz: We didn't talk big picture at all, In fact I really encouraged them to look small picture. There's been enough big picture talk since January. I think right now it's better to look at small picture.
Q: Has big picture talk seeped in more as much as you try to keep it out?
Ferentz: I can't answer that, I don't know. I don't know if that was part of the (loss), I don't think it was. Again, I said it last Tuesday, all of us involved in our program here have great respect for the team we were playing last week. We knew we were going into a tough place to ply and playing a very tough opponent. I think History's going to bear that out, but I'm not that smart. If you just did the math again on their roster and what we saw on film, we knew we were playing a very good football team. I can't answer that question, I don't know that it has or hasn't, we'll know that in 9 weeks.
Q: How do you feel about playing division 1-aa opponents?
Ferentz: I feel ok about it. I think we're all on the same page here, I think if we're going to do it, our preference is to play UNI. It's a good game for both programs. Part of the reason is because UNI traditionally, Mark Farley's done a fantastic job, but it's been traditionally a very good program and Mark's taken their program to another level coaching there. I revert back to what they've done against ISU the last couple years. That 17-10 score and then you watch them compete last year, the score was a bit more open but they competed. They didn't look like they were overwhelmed. My old Maine Black Bears did a pretty good job over at Nebraska a couple weeks back, traveled down to Mississippi State last year and got the win. I'm sure most people in Mississippi don't even know Maine's a state. (Big Laughs). With all due respect to the people in Mississippi. I didn't know Iowa's a state until... I kind of knew it was a state, I just didn't know where it was until 1981. We're all kind of provincial. To answer your question, I think they're an outstanding program, and if we're going to do it, that's the way to do it. Obviously you want to play a team that's had great success and I think that's what we're talking about with UNI.
Q: Do you have a good relationship with their staff, it seems like a lot of your guys have ended up there, both the good and the bad.
Ferentz: I know Mark (Farley) casually through events we go to. Their coaches have come down and visited, I'm trying to remember was it last spring or two springs ago? I think we're smart enough to do it two springs ago. I'm sure Chinander has our playbook up there, that'll really screw him up and everybody else. We've been real friendly, I know Reese and Coach Nelson have spent time, I ran into him at a wrestling match. We're in the same (circles) we see each other at clinics and all those kinds of things. I think there's a mutual respect, certainly, they do a great job.
Q: Can you talk about the value of your team, you had this September thing. You won three games in September in 2003, I think it was, 2002 maybe.
Ferentz: Was Michigan State in October? We were 4-0 in that game? Then we stunk. We got outplayed.
Q: It seems like once you hit a stride where players are coming into practice, looking at the film, getting their lives outside of the football complex, I know you guys value routine pretty highly, does it take time to find that?
Ferentz: I don't know if you can just generalize. We've really done pretty well. We played well in the game we lost in 2002, kind of. Half of it. I think it's just more circumstantial, I really do. What it means is, in none of those cases were we good enough to go through the first four or five games undefeated. This year we've proven we weren't good enough to go through two games. I don't know that it's much more extensive beyond that.
Q: It seems like the last couple years, in the same vein, after a loss like this your seniors have come in and they've rededicated themselves and make everyone step it up a little bit, is that was this is?
Ferentz: Last year, our senior leadership was a little fuzzy because we had such a small group and we didn't have a lot of prominent guys. Whereas this year I felt good about our leadership since January. I just think it was one of those deals, they played better than we did. We clearly didn't play well, they clearly did, that's what you get. I don't think it was a lack of focus, leadership, I just think we didn't have it. It's always frustrating, it's always hard to explain. I don't think there's any theory much beyond that?
Q: Does that make it tougher to fix?
Ferentz: To me, I'm looking at all the positives, we've got a lot of good players on our team, we've got a lot of good guys that are experienced, we've got a lot of guys with good potential that are inexperienced. They key for us is to put it all together. I don't think it's any tougher. It's probably tougher last year, we had running back after running back after running back injured, we didn't have a big senior class, you can build a heck of an argument for last year being as tough as it's going to get. Does that mean we're going to go on this year and do it? We'll decide that, that's the thing about sports, we'll steer the ship here for the next nine weeks.
Q: When you looked at the game tape, did it seem like you might have been a play or two away from getting things to snap together?
Ferentz: It's usually the case, but that's also being really speculative when you do that. In the example there, a big challenge obviously, we chose to take the football, we really emphasize, "Hey, we've got to move it out of there." We moved it out to midfield, fumbled. If we just hang on to the ball and punt it, we at least make them go the long field. We had it inside the five (on the next series), took it right out over the 30, turnover. Next thing you know they've got a touchdown. Things like that can change a game, but to say if we had punted on both those possessions from midfield and put them down there it would have been different, that's really speculative. They may have just kicked our butts anyway, you never know. That would have helped the cause, certainly, we didn't get off to a good start.
Q: They seem like to keep Drew from moving around and making plays, they put a premium on keeping him between the tackles. Does he have the comfort zone in the pocket?
Ferentz: Given protection, yeah. There's no good place to be if we're not protecting and we didn't really protect well when we did move him. I think he can operate on the move and I think he can operate in the pocket, as long as there's ample protection.
Q: How much did you deliberate the 4th and six inches before the half?
Ferentz: In terms of?
Q: Whether to give it a shot.
Ferentz: I don't think there was much choice on that one. I didn't deliberate it at all, I guess, to answer your question. That one's on the bottom of the list.
Q: What precisely is this '24 hour rule' of yours?
Ferentz: The theory is, win lose or draw, you can enjoy it through Sunday night. I guess that's more than 24 hours, 11 o'clock kickoff, 2:30, the theory is until you go to bed Sunday night you can enjoy it, mourn, whatever you want. On Monday we like to turn our attention to our next opponent. A lot of our coaches, I know, turn their attention a lot sooner than that, we have to. We have to get a beat on it, but the emotional part of it at least. Live with your emotion through Sunday then on Monday we need to get ready for the next task.
Q: Do you find that players can do that fairly easily?
Ferentz: For the most part, yeah. For the most part.
Q: Easier than the coaches?
Ferentz: Probably, because we're a little closer to it. I don't want to suggest losing hurts more to us, because I don't think that's the case at all. It may linger a little longer then the flip with wins. You worry about wins lingering with them because they're out on campus. I'm sure they're being reminded, or have been reminded yesterday and today that, "Boy, you guys stunk on Saturday, I lost ten bucks on you," all those kinds of things. I've really encouraged them not to worry about public discourse. That's really not what they need to worry about right now. They need to worry about what we're doing.