Ohio State Week: Ferentz Presser Part 1

Kirk Ferentz met with the Iowa media on Tuesday to talk about the upcoming game against Ohio State. In part one of his general press conference, Ferentz talks about the challenges that Ohio State brings to this game.

Captains this week are Abdul Hodge and Chad Greenway, Brian Ferentz and Marcus Schnoor on special teams.

Injury wise, we are in good shape. Chris Brevi remains out. We are going to give him another week before we bring him along and it will be a few weeks before he gets back. What we are working on right now is cleaning up our mistakes, some things we are not doing well and at the same time trying to prepare for a very talented and experienced Ohio State team.

Since my introduction to the Big Ten in 1981, I can't remember a bad looking OSU team and this is no different. The big difference is they are extremely experienced. They have a lot of very talented players, no big surprise. They have experience and they are playing very well together. That is what we are looking at. We are seeing some real challenges in front of us on both sides of the ball. I would be remiss if I did not mention special teams.

You look at the Tedd Ginn factor and Holmes; he is an excellent receiver and return guy. They really change the complextion of the football game, not only on offense but on special teams. Those guys change the complexion of the football game, not only on offense, but on special teams. You are kind of hoping, or at least I was, with Nugent graduating and being drafted that it would be a chink in their armor, but they have a guy doing a great job right now on kickoffs and field goals. They don't appear to have any weaknesses. They are an excellent team and playing in Columbus, it makes it a lot more ofa challenge. We need to worry about us right now and push forward to be ready on Saturday.

Q: On Santonio Holmes

Ferentz: He is an excellent player. He was a year ago. We felt that Ted Ginn was young a year ago, but we really thought Holmes was the go to guy and their best receiver. Now the thing is that they have two dangerous guys and their other guys are good, too. What I am saying is that Holmes was a refined player a year ago, and now Ginn has that experience and he is a threat in the passing game and with reverses. As any good coach would do, they try to get the ball in his hands as much as they can. It will be in Holmes hands, and Troy Smith can hurt you throwing but he can pull it down and run as well. They have a lot of weapons.

Q: On how to approach Ginn

Ferentz: Like any great player, you can't simulate him in practice. Nobody has anybody in his speed category, unless you give a guy a five yard head start.

Q: On what makes Ohio State's linebackers tough

Ferentz: Their linebackers were excellent a year ago and there is no change there, just a year better. The big difference I am seeing right now is they are more experienced up front on defense and offense. That is the biggest change from a year ago when you look at their football team. I think that is where they have gained ground. That happened during the course of the season as they came on to have a great year last year. But they are very talented up front.

Q: On this game and the number of great linebackers

Ferentz: Both teams come in with real good linebacking units; there is no doubt about that. All three of their guys are experienced and two of our three are experienced. It would be hard to find a college game that has better linebackers on the field at one time. That ought to be exciting. It will be tough for the offenses.

Q: On the 1985 meeting, where Iowa entered the game #1, and lost at Columbus

Ferentz: Yeah, I remember that well. They are not saying that this week; we took care of that one. But I remember it well. You remember the real good ones and some bad ones, too. The weather was lousy, but the town was ready for us and they played an excellent game that day.

Q: On what his team can draw on from last year's meeting against Ohio State

Ferentz: I don't know…To me, that game was one that you throw out basically. We caught them at a right time I think and they had some weaknesses early in the season last year. But I think the thing that was apparent, like our team, is that both teams got better after that game. It was a part of the process for us. But after that, they really came on and played extremely well in late October/November and into their bowl game. Probably two teams that were looking in the mirror last year. I think they were a lot better team than we played that day. We have been at both ends of that one.

Q: On if Abdul Hodge and Chad Greenway are having to think more this year, as opposed ot reacting in recent years

Ferentz: We are doing a few more things, so there is more involvement. You are talking about two veteran guys, so it's not a big deal for them. But its like offense, its 11 guys being on the same page. If all 11 guys are not there, it just takes one crack, one guy not quite doing what he is supposed to do and it can look pretty ugly. We have had a few of those already in three games.

Q: On where AJ Hawk plays, in the box or outside

Ferentz: He plays in the box, but I compared him a little bit to Chad. For the most part, he plays in the box. Depending on what you do formation wise. They prefer to let him run to the football, and that is what he does so well. He is a hard guy to get a blocker on and he can play off blocks pretty well, too. But he has a good knack of getting to the football, which is what good linebackers do.

Q: On if Greenway's ability to play in the box and in coverage makes him more marketable for the pro's

Ferentz: They are no different than we are. If you give them the right formation, you might get Hawk out of the box, but you have to deal with him out there and he can get back in there real fast. It comes into formations and the scheme. He plays a position similar to Chad's, with some exceptions.

Q: On the fact that Ted Ginn has not touched the ball a lot yet this year

Ferentz: Yeah, and I imagine we'll see him touch it on Saturday. In a perfect world you want to keep it out of his hands but that is easier said and done. They are doing good things there. It's tough to avoid him. On kickoff team, you kick it to him or Holmes and either way, its dangerous. Punting wise, you can try to punt it out of bounds, but that is risky, too. It will take a team effort to try to contain him and we will have to be exacting with what we do.

Q: On what has happened to kick start the running game

Ferentz: It's a collective thing. Typically, I have not seen many good running teams that don't have backs that do a good job. That is a pretty constant theme. But we are blocking a little better in the running game than we did a year ago. I mentioned many times last year that it was not just the running backs, there were injuries up front that hurt us. We are a little more veteran than we were a year ago and I think we are doing some good things and we need that to continue to improve if we are going to have a chance at success. I don't know how proud or happy we are right now, but at times we have done some good things in the running game. We have executed and done some things cleanly, but the bottom line, when we execute cleanly run or pass we can move the ball. The challenge is to clean things up on a consistent basis. That is what we are working on and it's always ongoing. At least there is some evidence there that we can do some things in both phases.

Q: On why it's so hard to play at Ohio State

Ferentz: I can't tell you the year, but somewhere in the 50's on, maybe back to the 40's, I think the number one factor is that they usually have a pretty good team. So when you show up there, there is a good team waiting for you. You are normally the underdog and that is a good head start. It is a tough place to play. It's loud. A lot of stadiums in the Big Ten are loud, but the constant is that they have talent. I don't know if anyone has better talent year in or year out than Ohio State. They are always involved in that race. That includes my six years in the NFL just looking at the draft board, you can throw them up there with any of the Florida schools.

Q: On whether Ohio State coach Jim Tressel is a conservative coach?

Ferentz: I think they do a great job. 2002 is evidence; they do a great job of playing clean football, allowing you to beat yourself. They were masterful at that. They came up with the big play when they needed to, which winning teams do. It is unusual to see them beat themselves.

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