Ferentz: Taking Steps in the Right Direction

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz met with the assembled media on Tuesday and talked about his team's performance against Purdue, the upcoming challenge he sees from Indiana as well as an injury update on Antwan Allen, Marcus Paschal and Ed Hinkel....read all the quotes from Kirk's press conference just one hour after it was completed.

The injury front right now looks questionable for Antwan Allen and Charles Godfrey to play. Both of those guys had ankle injuries on Saturday. We will see how they do this week but we don't expect either one to practice today and have the mind set that they are not going to go. They are most likely going to be out. Then Ed Hinkel…it sounds like we had a sideline reporter in the operating room yesterday. I heard on the radio, and that report was fairly accurate. Basically he had surgery yesterday on the arm and things went very, very well. That being said, it is still a significant injury and we will see where he is at in November. I am sure we will not see him for a couple of weeks. That was a tough thing for him and everyone to go through.

Captains are Clinton Solomon and Brian Ferentz on offense and Abdul and Chad Greenway will be the defensive captains.

On Indiana, we are playing a good football team. The things that jump out at you is that they are playing well, as their record would indicate. You look at the details and see they are very veteran, very experienced and they have some new players that are playing well on top of that. It's a good combination. They are very talented and Coach Hoeppner is doing a great job. He is a very proven head football coach. He has an outstanding staff. You can see their work on the film and they are playing with a lot of enthusiasm. They are coached well on schemes and fundamentals. We have played against his teams three times when he was at Miami. The things you saw from those Miami teams, you see in Indiana. With Notre Dame in the same state, you have two new staff's that are excellent inheriting veteran teams, and the results are that you have two good teams playing. We have a challenge in front of us and we are looking forward to getting on the field today and cleaning things up and continuing to improve.

Q: Last week PU struggled after the Notre Dame game and now you face an Indiana team feeling good about itself.

Kirk Ferentz: We are playing a good football team. With Purdue, we expected a tough contest and that is what happened. They have a tremendous program and a lot of pride. They played an excellent game. To answer your question, we had to prepare for what we thought would be a difficult game last Saturday and that is what it was. We expect the same this Saturday and peeking ahead, every week will be the same. We are playing a team coming in that is confident and expecting to win. That is what you expect in this conference; you expect to play good teams and that is what we are seeing. The bottom line is that we have to try to be at our best.

Q: Talk about team improvement from week to week and after the Purdue game.

Ferentz: I think the biggest thing is that our team responded to what was in front of them, starting with the challenge of playing a good team away from home. The circumstances, you go right down the list; the first drive is not what we would have scripted and they took it down the field. I thought our team did a great job of responding. We did a better job of handling circumstances all game. The interception was a key play, too. It was a six-point game at that point and they drove down the field and we came up with a good play. Seeing those kinds of things make you feel better about things. Maybe we are getting somewhere.

Q: It's been a few years since you played Indiana. Is it an entirely new team or can you take anything away from your last meeting?

Ferentz: There are some familiar faces, especially on the offensive line. The only thing I remember from that last game is that we had a pretty good team in 2002 and that was one of our tougher ball games. They played us to the wall. That was Coach DiNardo's first year. We had a tough contest with them then and they are more veteran now and more talented. We can't take much out of it really, it's like ancient history.

Q: Are Coach Hoeppner's current packages similar to the Miami packages?

Ferentz: There are a lot of parallels. Both defensive coordinators came with him and they look the same on offense.

Q: What do you look at when you see Indiana's offense?

Ferentz: You look at them up front, they are veteran offensively, which gives you a great chance to get things going. You look at the newcomers they have added, their quarterback is playing great. He has set the record already for touchdown passes. Randle-El had the record and he was better than a fair player. Back in the 80's, Babe Laughenberg threw for a million yards in 1982. Then Hardy the receiver. They have a good running attack and good receivers, and Hardy is ranked third or fourth in our conference. He is not only tall, but a good football player. He is 6-7, he has good ball skills; he is a good football player. He is not a basketball player playing football. The production you are seeing from those two guys certainly jumps out at you.

Q: Does the basketball/football player comparison work out?

Ferentz: It depends. It's one thing to be tall. It worked out well for Antonio Gates and some others. Michigan State is having some success right now, but that is a tougher transition than people think sometimes. What I am saying is that Hardy is not just a tall guy playing receiver, he is a very good receiver. Shaq would be pretty good. You couldn't pay him enough to play in the NFL.

Q: How will you adjust secondary facing him with the injuries to Allen and Godfrey?

Ferentz: Easy, Adam Shada moves to corner and Miguel jumps in there, just like Saturday. That was another positive from the game. We have been trying to hold off on the next man in; we have not had to fall back on that this year. Adam made some great plays, Miguel made a great play on our bench. These guys have played and they know what is expected of them. That is what they came here for; it's their turn to shine a little bit. That is the only thing positive you can take out of an injury. We expect them to do a good job, there is no reason they shouldn't.

Q: Is the punt return position open this week?

Ferentz: Jovon will be our starter and the two backups would be Clinton and Albert. Jovon would be the guy taking care of it. I don't think we have anyone else from Erie, so we can put anyone else back there. We are running out of Erie guys.

Q: Does Albert Young have any Ronnie Harmon in him?

Ferentz: I would not put that on Albert, it would not be fair to him. Ronnie is one of the finest players I have been around at any level. The impact he had on our program…that being said, Albert is doing a great job in all areas for us. He runs the ball well and does a good job in the passing game and he also blocks. Ronnie was a tough competitor and blocked well. Albert has a great personality and loves to play football, which makes coaches feel good.

Q: How do you fill the hole left by Hinkel going down?

Ferentz: Same thing. Herb Grigsby jumped in the other day, Matt Melloy who has had an awful year from a health standpoint. He has had more bad breaks and he is gaining ground the last few weeks practicing. He is hardly in full game shape, but it was great to see him make a nice catch. So we will just pick it up. You can't just replace a guy like Ed Hinkel and all the things he has done for our team. But during the course of the game the other day, Ed was out, Clinton was banged up, the injuries in the secondary, but everyone kept playing. Richie Williams made a great play on their boundary in the fourth quarter. He wasn't even in camp with us. Things like that are gratifying. If we are going to have success, we will need that type of effort from a lot of different guys.

Q: Saturday was the first day you were banged up this year. Given that, do you feel like things are creeping back to the way they have been the last couple of years?

Ferentz: Not even close. Our Tuesday medical meetings have been really short. We want to keep it that way. Injuries are a part of the game. You hate to see anyone get hurt and see anyone's dreams, especially the older senior guys, you hate to see that happen. But it's a part of the game and we know the risks going in. In 2002 we sailed right through; I think we lost two starts during the year. Some years are like that and others are like last year.

Q: Is it harder to replace Hinkel off the field as it is on the field?

Ferentz: It's just hard period. He has done so many great things for us and he is respected by everyone in the program and that is earned. He has done a great job in all areas. He will be with us on the sidelines and traveling. Who knows, he may get back quicker than any of us think, it would not surprise me. But bones are bones and they have to heal.

Q: Is it 6 to 8 weeks?

Ferentz: I don't know. We will see after the bye week.

Q: A lot of talk about Indiana's passing game, but what do you see in their running game?

Ferentz: They are good. Taylor is fourth or fifth in the league with a lot of good backs. That all starts up front. They played some guys early and these guys are not just older. It is amazing when you go through their two-deep at how many fourth and fifth year guys are there and the offensive line is the focal point of that. So they are not just older, they are experienced and good football players that are aggressive and tough. It will be a challenge for us up front. That has allowed the skill guys to be so good, due to the guys up front.

Q: Have you noticed some unselfishness in your defense? Guys moving down like Greenway, etc?

Ferentz: I would be really disappointed if we didn't see that from our guys. For the most part, our guys have done what we have asked them to do and have been great about it. Greenway for example, he would run back punts. I am surprised he has not volunteered yet. We just have guys that are like that, and they are the kind of guys to ask to help, and Chad would do that. So I am not surprised.

Q: What takes a young defense forward like we saw on Saturday?

Ferentz: We are getting great leadership from our guys and the emotion and effort that you need. We are hardly there yet, but at least we are moving in the right direction right now. That is true of our whole team. Now the key is to keep it on track and keep gaining ground.

Q: You have a two-week home stand. Do you do anything differently?

Ferentz: Not really. We try to keep the routine as consistent as we possibly can, home or away. It's nice not to get on a bus on Friday or have to leave early. The guys are on campus longer. The only thing we do right now is that we started cutting back our practice time once we got into conference play. We try to make things move quicker, so that is the only difference.

Q: Does it feel like last year?

Ferentz: It's way too early. Way too early. We are trying to keep one foot in front of the other right now, and that is about as complex as we are making it. I said a few weeks ago after the Ohio State game that we are emphasizing the small picture. We will do that the next couple of weeks and then get to the bye and see where we are at. We are three-quarters of the way done with the first eight games, and that is where we are at, with two to do and its time to come down the track and see what happens.

Q: Can you make anything out of the Big Ten race?

Ferentz: Nothing other than this is one time we were all right in August, where it looked like an interesting year with a lot of tough teams. That is how it's panning out. A lot of good games right now and tough preparations. I have not seen any major surprises yet. I think what will be interesting when November comes around is to see who is who and what is what. It makes for a lot of interesting games.

Q: Does it surprise you more that Wisconsin scored 48 and lost, or Penn State beating Ohio State?

Ferentz: If you score 48 and lose, nobody likes that. Well, maybe Coach Leach likes to get in those types of games at Texas Tech. Penn State, their defense, anything they do defensively at home on a Saturday night…I bet Coach Tressell was excited about playing a night game in State College…I didn't get to see it but I understand the environment was outstanding. Playing anywhere in our league at night is a heckuva challenge. But their defensive football team is outstanding. I have not seen them on tape yet, but they are more veteran on offense. I think four out of their five linemen are seniors and the fifth guy is a good player. When you have that, you have a chance. They have added some skill guys from a year ago. They have a pretty good football team.

Q: Are you glad that you don't have to face them this year?

Ferentz: I am not in control of schedules. Nobody cried for us last year when we had two teams off the schedule that were not in bowl games. It's just luck of the draw. It does not always end up the way it appears either.

Q: Can you talk about the value of how few times you have been penalized?

Ferentz: I am not talking much about it. I have not mentioned it to our team at all, because that is not our focus. It has helped us right now. I would hate to think where we would be if we were getting a lot of penalties. But it is unusual, I don't know if we have ever been in this position. But I will keep my mouth shut and hope the trend continues. I'd rather have two false starts than a turnover, I would trade that out. But they don't let you do that. But it is a positive; I just don't know why it's going on.

Q: 12 men in the huddle, is that a communication thing?

Ferentz: Yup. That was not good. Not good. That was not a highlight.


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