Q: What do you appreciate most about Ed Hinkel? He's a player you look at the whole resume, and there's a lot to like.
Kirk Ferentz: I said a week ago, two weeks ago, whatever it was, just the things that he does that go unnoticed by the casual observer. Whether you want to call it the dirty work, he's a complete football player, he's a complete competitor. His attitude's always been outstanding, even when he came in here as a true freshman. To me, he's just a consummate football player. The more of those guys you have on your football team, the better of you are.
Q: He was the one link too, through all the success you've had over the last 4 years.
Ferentz: Yeah, he's been around through the whole deal. We've got several guys in that category that are fifth year seniors, you hate to lose any of them. Ed's had bumps in the road, he had that a couple years ago where he couldn't get healthy. Finally in the bowl game he got to play and looked like Ed Hinkel again. Right now he's down, but he's not out, he'll be back.
Q: What's always impressed me about him, everyone thinks of the catch at Penn state, makes all these catches where he could have pointed his finger at himself and said, "I did this, look at me." He's always been the same guy
Ferentz: That's not his style, that's one of the reasons you've got to love him. To me, he embodies what we like to be about.
Q: He's just a totally flat-line guy, same guy.
Ferentz: You know every Saturday what you're going to get form him, or every Monday or every Tuesday. He's pretty valuable. He's a great role model for everybody, and like most of our good players, we haven't had many guys that haven't fit that mold really, that were our top players. Ed's certainly in that category.
Q: How is he handling this?
Ferentz: He's disappointed, but there's not much you can do about injuries, and he realizes that as much as anybody does. You deal with it. It's like losing a game, you go through the mourning stage, then you move on. I'm sure he'll do the same, he's a tough-minded guy.
Q: He kind of typifies the kind of kid you recruit, doesn't he?
Ferentz: I hope we do, yeah.
Q: He's not blue-chip, necessarily.
Ferentz: Yeah, there were questions. Size, is he too small, is he fast enough. But it's worked out, I wish all of our guys had careers like him. If every story was like that, it'd be great.
Q: You mentioned Ed will still be traveling with the team.
Ferentz: It's just kind of a policy. If an established starter gets injured, we're not going to put them on the shelf, we want those guys around our football team. I think it's important that they're at the hotel Friday night, home or away, with our players. Those guys are part of the fabric of what we're doing. Guys earn that right, you hope you don't have to exercise it. You've got a guy who's proven himself around here, if he's injured, he's going to be with us at all possible times. I think it's important.
Q: Not to be too corny, but is that a little bit of incentive maybe to get to a bowl game, or get to a position where he could play in January?
Ferentz: There's no question, yeah. I think there's a chance we'll see him before the season's up here, before thanksgiving. No question, we have a ton of incentive to get a bowl game. That's just one more log on the fire. For everybody.
Q: Do you know what bone it is?
Ferentz: I don't. Above the wrist, I don't know. It was painful though. They set the thing on the sideline. You talk about toughness, the fact that he got up the way that he did, I'm told that was pretty rare to get up and jog over. He had it against his body, that's pretty rare based on the kind of break it was. That's Ed Hinkel.
Q: So Herb (Grigsby), you lose a little of experience. Not that you'd change your offense for him, but what are the things by losing Ed that you (have to change)?
Ferentz: We're going to keep playing. No wholesale changes, we're going to keep playing.
Q: Is Herb faster? Does he have more speed?
Ferentz: Yeah, he's probably faster. He's not a whopping 190 like Ed Hinkel, but when Ed got here I think he was a whopping 170. It's Herb's time to step in there and get the job done.
Q: What did Saturday do for your team's psyche?
Ferentz: Only time will tell, but it was a positive. I think as I mentioned earlier, we faced some adversity, and to respond in a positive way, that's good for everybody. Hopefully we learned something about ourselves, so it's a positive. You learn through wins and losses, and you learn through handling situations properly, or missing them. You learn from them and hopefully we've learned from this one.
Q: How important was it to be tested in the fourth quarter?
Ferentz: We've been way behind in the 4th quarter. Maybe not way behind, but behind, then we've been on the other end, in a comfortable position. Typically, the conference is 60-minute ballgames, and this one was one. It was good to go through one and also have it come out the right way, from our standpoint. That's definitely a plus.
Q: The way you guys scheme your defense, defensive linemen on gap control, not always going where they think they might have success against a guy. Do you guys almost call for a lot of unselfishness?
Ferentz: It does. We have a scheme that's set up to...
Q: Take up space for some guys behind you?
Ferentz: Everybody has a role, I guess, that's the best way to put it. We're not necessarily trying to create or fabricate all big ten players at certain positions, we just try and play good team defense. It's been proven to work, and I think that's probably why the players buy into what we do. They know if we execute the right way, we'll have a chance to be successful. That's probably what sells it.
Q: Was Saturday the kind of balance you wanted to see out of the offense?
Ferentz: Yeah. Perfect world, we'd like to be able to control the football a little bit, easier said than done, but we've like to be balanced through both the run and pass game. It was good.
Q: Talk a little bit about Ed Miles. Has he done what you thought he would do when you got him?
Ferentz: Ed (Miles) was a guy who flashed from an early time on. When he was on the scout team, not only Grant Steen when he was on the scout team. To me, the big journey is not only having potential ability, but establishing consistency. That's what experienced players, you hope can exhibit and develop. The good news is, I think Saturday, to see him, he made a big play obviously, a huge play. That's big, that'll be big for his confidence too. I think he's coming along.
Q: Can one play like that turn his whole career around?
Ferentz: It's possible, sure. It's possible. It can also ruin guys.
Q: (He'll use it to his advantage?)
Ferentz: You would hope it would make him feel better. Think, "Wow, I did something great here." And give him some incentive.
Q: Do you expect Antwan and Charles to be back next week?
Ferentz: There's a chance they could play this week, but I think the mindset our team needs to have right now is that they're not riding in on white horses on Saturday and lining up and playing. We need to have the mindset that we're going with what we have. If they can make it back, that's fine. We'll probably make it a game-day decision, but I think realistically, right now they're not practicing today, tomorrow is iffy at best. If we get much past Wednesday, I don't know. It might be a bit like Marcus Paschal two weeks ago for the Illinois game. We had him dressed out so that if the roof fell in, you could throw the guy in there and have him limp around, but what good's that doing? I'm hoping next week, for sure. We'll know more in a couple days here, probably 48 hours we'll know a lot more.
Q: How important is it to get teams and players feeling good about themselves? Not only with Ed, but just as a team. They were down, obviously, at Ohio State. Having been through it before, are you guys getting pretty good at amateur psychology, lifting the team back up?
Ferentz: I don't know about the amateur psychology part. I've said before, you pretty much get what you deserve. If you get knocked on your tail, yo9u get up and you try to move forward or you sit around and sulk. To me, as long as the clock's ticking, there is no choice, it's an easy choice. Right now, the clock's still ticking for us, six more weeks. Five more games in six weeks. As long as the clock's ticking, hopefully we're trying to get better. It's about as simple as that. You hope good experiences help. You hope bad experiences help too. Whatever happens, you hope you try to learn from it and continue to move on.
Q: Going back to a little earlier. You get an Indiana team coming in, they're going to be a little tougher than maybe they were if they were 2-3. Regardless of talent, almost. They're feeling good about what they're doing.
Ferentz: They should be feeling good. They're veteran and they're playing well. It's a combination of what I mentioned earlier. You've got veteran players that have been in the conference, they know what it takes, they've been on the road, all that kind of stuff. You mix in on top of it some newcomers that are doing a great job. I'm sure they're coming in to win, and they should be, they should have that mindset. They're 4-1, I wish we were 4-1. They're 4-1 and playing well.
Ferentz: I don't know who we're playing in two weeks. I don't know and I don't care. Basically, every game you play is a test. We're either going to pass this test or fail it, our test results are made very public, so what we need to do is worry about getting ready for the rest and trying to do a good job.
Q: Was last week your most improvement, week-to-week?
Ferentz: I think it's a process. I still believe the improvement we made the week before helped us last week too. To me, you're either heading to the base, or you're taking away from it. That's the challenge that's in front of us right now. It's the challenge that's in front of you every season, regardless of how it's going. Can you add to the base that you have, if you don't you leave yourself pretty vulnerable to getting nailed, so hopefully we are.
Q: Are you looking at Miami Ohio tapes as well, who do you look at more, Miami or Indiana tapes?
Ferentz: We've got three games, four games. The Nicholls state offense doesn't do us much good against our defense doesn't do us much good, they're in the Air Force attack, but we've got four game tapes where we're seeing their scheme, their personnel. We do have Miami tape as well, the Iowa State/Miami bowl game from exchange with Iowa State. There are a lot of parallels to what we say when we played Miami. My memory bank isn't all that good, but it's a lot of similarities. The big concern is the personnel. That's the guys executing, they're doing a good job, that's where the focus is.
Q: Do you see anything about Terry Hoeppner teams on tape or in your 3 games that stands out from other teams?
Ferentz: You mean the games we have of theirs right now?
Ferentz: No, I mean there are a lot of good teams in our conference, a lot of good coaching staffs, and to me, Indiana fits right in there now. They're playing well, they've got good players, but they're very well coached. They're playing hard, with enthusiasm, they're playing tough. They're playing fundamentally sound, that's what you're looking for, that's the coach's job, to try and make the team do that. They're doing it with a lot of proficiency right now.
Q: Do you see specific things on this team besides just playing harder?
Ferentz: The schemes are very similar to what we saw at Miami. He didn't reinvent himself when he went to Indiana. He took what's worked for him, and he's had great success as a coach and a coaching staff. They took what helped make them successful at Miami and just took it right over to Indiana. Their players have embraced it, it's obvious they've embraced it. That's a pretty positive combination. It's not unlike what we saw in Notre Dame. Not that I'm a Notre Dame expert, but we saw them on tape against Purdue, we've seen them in the past against Michigan, Michigan State, they're taking Coach Weiss' system, playing with great enthusiasm and great proficiency.
Q: How much mail do you get in a normal week from fans?
Ferentz: It's been pretty, I shouldn't say this, then we'll get and influx here. It's been relatively quiet. It seems like it's calmed down a little bit in-season. Probably what's happened, a lot of the hate mail probably gets screened by Rita, she's a valuable member of our staff and she's probably been screening me from hate mail. It's been pretty much typical, I guess. It seems like I get more in the out-of-season.
Q: How about stuff that gets sent in to players?
Ferentz: They just throw it out on the front desk, I think, so players can do with it what they choose. It's out there when they come in the building, it's always out there.
Q: More after a win or a loss?
Ferentz: I think it's pretty balanced. Like I said, I think they probably pull the hate mail out, for my sanity. I bet Rita does that. I get a few doozies. It's not so much about, "Boy, you stink." I think those go to our coordinators. I get some interesting sagas, like personal sagas that are sometimes too personal. (Laughs)
Q: No follow ups from (the man with the unstoppable play)?
Ferentz: No, not yet. I get some stuff, and sometimes it's just like "Wow, why are you telling me this?" It's like TV series stuff.
Q: How do you respond back?
Ferentz: Very generically. We try to answer all our mail.
Q: That could eat up your time.
Ferentz: It can, yeah.
Q: You do answer everything?
Ferentz: At some point, yeah. It may take a while, but at some point.
Q: How about the players, do the players respond?
Ferentz: I don't know, I don't give them any instructions, I don't really expect them to, quite honestly. I think they're good about it.