Ferentz: Iowa Needs to Focus on Little Picture

Kirk Ferentz addressed the Iowa media on Tuesday, and the talk centered around on what the team can do to improve the rest of the way this year, in addition to the upcoming game with Illinois.

Injury wise, we are in pretty good shape. Chris Brevi is still trying to recover a little bit and come along, and the other factor is we may hold Marcus Paschal out of competition this week. He is not able to play with 100 percent efficiency, so we are looking at giving him a week of rest and get more juice back in his legs and get him where he can go full speed. So we will go with Charles Godfrey and Miguel Merrick. Captains this week, we have Antwan Allen and Chad Greenway on the defensive side and Ed Hinkel and Brian Ferentz on the offensive side. The grass out in the stadium, from what I understand, is down. They are getting that prepared and I think they are going to cut it and throw a few lines on it here before Saturday. I don't think that will be a big factor in the game. We are anxious to get back to work today and look forward to playing on Saturday

Q: Is it a knee for Paschal?

Kirk Ferentz: Not totally. He has developed some pain from shin splints. Its tissue, not joints, which is part of the compensating getting back. There were a couple of shots Saturday where he was not able to uncork it the way the needs to. He has been playing through soreness, but he is not at the level that he is used to being at and we want to get him back there as fast as we can.

Q: Was it a tough week with the 24 hour rule?

Ferentz: Anytime you lose, anytime you don't get the desired results, it is. It's easier to flushing wins away than losses. It is not unlike a couple of weeks ago. That is the challenge at hand and it will get easier once we start preparing today.

Q: What about Illinois?

Ferentz: They present some challenges. You start on the offensive side…more than some I guess. They are diverse offensively. We got a glimpse of their package playing Florida in a bowl game. You see that. The other wild card is the line coach had some experience at Air Force. They have a little bit of an option package that Air Force runs and integrated that with what they brought from Florida. You end up with a lot of different looks. They have a quarterback that can run and throw, and we had problems with that last week. I think the strength of their team, not unlike last year, is at running back. They have two guys that have played a lot and a young freshman who is a very good player who they are bringing along. Their fullback is one of the better blocking fullbacks you are going to find anywhere. The strength from a year ago remains their strength.

Q: Here was a question from someone in the room that was not a media member: I have developed a passing play that is unstoppable, would you like to hear about it afterwards?

Ferentz: We will see on that one, but I don't know. I appreciate it.

Q: If anyone in your office would like to hear this play, it takes just three minutes.

Ferentz: I have three minutes anytime.

Q: When can I see you?

Ferentz: After I fulfill my obligations here. If it works, I will give you 13 minutes…or longer.

Q: Can you draw on what you did last year after your were 2-2 for this year?

Ferentz: No, nothing catchy or clever. We are going to move on. Win, lose or draw, you move on. To me, it's as simple as this week. We have two teams coming in that are 0-1. One will be 0-2 and one will be 1-1. The best we can be is 1-1 and they are in the same boat. More importantly than that is us playing good football. That is our focus every week.

Q: What you remember coaching against Ron Zook in the bowl game?

Ferentz: Not an awful lot. Ron is very respected, has been for quite some time in the coaching profession, certainly as a head coach and during his time as an assistant. He has good special teams, that has been one of his several areas of expertise and he is also a defensive guy. The main thing we remember from the bowl game, the offense was a real challenge to prepare against. They are ea very good defensive football team. The biggest difference right now is they are four games into a new tenure, if you will. It is always a challenge. We are going through some of the same things. How much do you give your team, what is the right amount of offense and defense to try to utilize and install in any given week. It is more of a challenge on the front end of something with a new system, a new team.

Q: Drew said after game that he needed to get a better handle on his emotions. His competitive fire is part of what makes him such a good player; where do you draw line on fire?

Ferentz: It's a fine line. We all figured out early that Drew has fire. He is an outwardly emotional guy, so it is a fine line. We had those conversations, but what you saw Saturday was more than one play. A little frustration, and he was not the only guy in the stadium feeling that way or experiencing that frustration. We have had that discussion and you don't want to take anyone's competitive spirit away, but there are certain things that are and are not appropriate and you move on.

Q: Does that happen to most competitors at a position of leadership?

Ferentz: I think it is a possibility with anybody. But certain personality types are more prone to being demonstrative and sometimes that is not all bad, either.

Q: How did the team respond to that?

Ferentz: I don't know. I am sure there were mixed reactions. The bottom line is to me, the way I look at it, it's pretty clear that Drew cares, so I would be more concerned, not that I am not concerned how it came out, but if someone didn't care. Then we would really have a problem. I hope our team looks at it the same way.

Q: Was he more frustrated with his own play or the play of the entire team?

Ferentz: I have not asked him, but I guess it was a little bit of everything. Things were not going great that day, so I am sure that was a part of it. A big part of it, I would think.

Q: Is Illinois' secondary a weakness to be exploited, or is Drew Stanton just that good?

Ferentz: If you go back and look closely last year when Drew Stanton was playing QB for Michigan State, they were running it up pretty good and they had it cranking. This year is no exception. Based on one game I have seen on tape, the Illinois game, and the numbers you see from the previous three games, they are clipping right along right now. They are pretty much in the same boat to last year. When Stanton was hurt, that hurt them.

Q: Is there a difference between a college or a pro coach?

Ferentz: I think it depends on the individual. I am not big on those tags. Players coach, non-players coach, I guess those are disciplinarians, which one do you want to be? If your team does well, it is the right answer and vice versa. It's simple. Every time a guy gets fired because he was a players coach, or a disciplinarian, he could not communicate, and when guys get hired they are the opposite. I don't know what either one of those means.

Q: There were breakdowns in execution on Saturday, more than in the last few years…is that a snowball situation, guys trying too hard or were there fundamental break downs?

Ferentz: Kind of like I said a week ago, the big difference in the ball game from a year ago where both of their lines. It all started right there. I would throw in the rest of their players, too. I will single a guy out; Nate Salley. HE did not play a great game against us last year and he was caught out of position a few times. He was not a huge factor a year ago, but I thought he was outstanding last week. I am not leading a campaign for him, but he looked pretty dominant back there at free safety. The play we ran down at our boundary out of the end zone, that guy covered a lot of ground was a factor in that play. It was pretty impressive. Their whole team was more mature than they were a year ago, and we were not equal to that task.

Q: What are your initial impressions of the Big Ten?

Ferentz: I will say the same thing; it's too early to tell who is who or what is what, other than…nah, it's way too early. Penn State, I thought they would be pretty good. They have a lot of guys back from that excellent defense, they are more mature on offense than they have been the last couple of years. I know they added a couple of playmakers and I think one scored the other night. I am trying to think of their being a big surprise yet…

Q: What about Michigan being out of the polls?

Ferentz: It's not even October. I will make a bold prediction;' they will be back in there somewhere in the next eight weeks and they will keep working their way north, too. I will go out on a limb.

Q: On the maturity side of things, can a team mature quickly, or is it a slow process?

Ferentz: That is the great thing about young guys; they improve and mature quicker than older guys. Where we are younger, that is what we need to do. We need to grow up and we are getting better every outing. It's possible. We are going to improve.

Q: Are you still trying to find an identity?

Ferentz: I said that last week, and we didn't make any major inroads last week based on what happened. It has been that way every year. At this point in 2002 we still were. Every year, that is the nature of the whole thing, the whole program, the whole system.

Q: How much of the offensive line being in all new positions this year affected their performance?

Ferentz: Yes and no. We have game experience with three guys, which helps. I wouldn't read too much into that. We are not settled, obviously. We are going to be OK. There are adjustments that have to be made, certainly. Experience helps at that given position. We just haven't put it all together, just like our whole team. There is no pixie dust or anything like that. We just have to keep working and keep pushing forward and we will.

Q: What things have made you click in recent years?

Ferentz: I think we try to take good inventory of where we are at, who we are, what we can and can't do, and that always changes. Every school has that. We have tried to improve. The players have done the work each and every year and have made the improvement necessary. A little luck helps too. Look at last year, how razor thin the margin for error was. It doesn't look any different this year for us. The league is competitive, which we anticipated coming in. The margin for error is not going to be real great. What we need to worry about is us getting better.

Q: Can you draw anything off last year, being 2-2 at the same time?

Ferentz: Yes and no. It is a little different; because we have not had any bombs go off as far as injuries. That part has not been the major challenge. But every season has its challenges and we had them in 2002, too. We had some disappointments early in that season. The Iowa State game, and we were very fortunate to get out of Miami with a win. We had our challenges. It is a matter of working through them. They are different every year, the same as your opponents are different every year.

Q: Talk about Andy Fenstermaker; has he won the job?

Ferentz: I read that someone proclaimed that I said that he had. The guy performed pretty darn well. That was a big factor. It's ironic, a couple of things we did well that we thought would be big factors, turnovers and special teams…I thought our coverage was excellent for the most part, and that starts with your punter giving you a chance to cover. I still have great faith in John Gallery. We had them both on the trip; if it was clearly decided, they both would not have been on the rip. If we were traveling this week, they both would go. They are both doing a really good job. That is a strength for us. But you can only play one punter.

Q: What made you decide not to alternate punters?

Ferentz: We had gone three games. Both guys have performed well. Andy has done a little better, more so in hang time. But if you look at both of them, both have outperformed what we have done the last several years, which is a positive. It's not like you have two guards and can play both, we have a position that only one can play. John is still very much in our plans and they will keep making each other better.

Q: What is your opinion of recent controversy surrounding the pink visitors locker room, the comments from one Iowa professor saying that it is sexist, among other things?

Ferentz: I wish I had enough time to think about that and hash it all out. I mean this with all due respect; it's not on my list. I have a few other things that have moved in front of it. I have read Bob's comments on it. That is the only thing I have ever heard explained about it. I was here when the first coat of paint went on. The idea was, I took Psychology 101 33 years ago, but it is supposed to have a calming effect. It sounded good to me, and I bought it. I think it is more traditional than anything else. I have not burned a lot of brain cells on that one.

Q: Statistically speaking Iowa has been a different team the last few years in league home and away…

Ferentz: I don't know if that is accurate. How many years? Since 2003? We went 7-1 in the league last year, so we must have won three games on the road, right? I choose to go broader. We ran the table in 2002. 2003 I know we lost three, last year we lost one, so far we are down one this year in league play. To me, we are doing well if you compare us to other teams, which I have done. The conclusion you can draw, if you study, its tough to win on the road in our conference, like a lot of good conferences. If you go back and look at it, it's interesting. It's not uncommon for the best teams to have two losses on the road. Purdue went to the Rose Bowl with three road losses in 2000, if I am not mistaken. The bottom line is that it's tough to win on the road in the Big Ten, and if you can win on the road you give yourself a heck of a chance to elevate in the conference race.

Q: Have you talked with your team about your chance to set the school record for most home wins in a row?

Ferentz: Then you folks have to bring up that it was Illinois that stopped the streak back in 1908 or whatever year that was, 1923 or 1924. Were you at that game, Bob? No, I'm sorry. It's something we are proud of. A lot of people have been involved in that streak and its some thing our players can be very proud of. It has been a goal for us to make Kinnick an advantage. We know its tough to win on the road, we want it to be tough for people to come in here and play. But we also know that we had better play better. We have the best fans in the world, but they can't bring us home. They help us an awful lot, but none of them have scored for us lately. We might be looking for a couple, or that pass play.

Q: Has Kyle Schlicher been your most consistent performer?

Ferentz: He has not had many opportunities, but if you look at it, our two losses right now, he came off the bench. It was a 44 yard kick against Iowa State and the other day that was not a chip shot. He has been focused and prepared and when called upon, he is doing the job in a great fashion, so we are happy about that. That will help us down the road, too. Our punters are doing well now and with Kyle kicking, we will need every edge we can get. At least coming away Saturday, our special teams played pretty well.

Q: Is this a rivalry game with Illinois?

Ferentz: I think it is growing, because we have added more Illinois players and doing more in recruiting over there now. For both teams, they are just hungry to play well. We are both coming off tough weekends. My sense is that will be first and foremost to get out on the field and play a good game again.

Q: Do you feel that your team has been lacking resolve thus far?

Ferentz: I don't know if you can measure it. It will surface or it won't. It's like the quote about adversity builds character. The best one I have heard is that adversity reveals it; you either have it or you don't. I am not worried about our resolve or chemistry. We will be OK.

Q: Is this how it felt last year after four games and what do you need to see this year?

Ferentz: We will know more about our team in eight weeks after the last game has been played. I am encouraging our team to focus on the small picture right now, focus on getting better and let's have a great Tuesday practice and right down the line. That is the best way to play well on Saturday, which is the ultimate goal.

Q: You can't win a Big 10 title in week two, but can you put yourself in a hole where you can't win.

Ferentz: You put yourself in a hole. I wouldn't say you can't do it. It's way too early to say how many teams will get beat and how many losses. Every year has been different. 2002 is a real rare year where the team went through undefeated. That does not happen a lot. All of that being said, that is so far off our radar. It has been. We just need to worry about playing good football. It's as simple as that for us.

Q: Both Iowa State and Ohio State seemed to make a real point of trying to keep Tate between the tackles, and it was effective.

Ferentz: I have read about that. To me, it comes down to execution. They have executed better than we have. If you are playing Tate, well, you try to contain every quarterback. It is bad when a guy breaks contain on you. We have witnessed that a few times. I have seen a couple of plays where it was clear they were overcompensating. But that has not been the major game plan.


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