Ferentz: Iowa Preparing for Home Stretch

Iowa coach says things are still in their hands with regards to Big Ten, Bowl game

Hopefully you are having a good bye week. So far, ours is going fine. We have had two days of practice. We have one more today and we will come back Sunday and start getting ready for our next game. I will open it up for questions.

Q: What have you been doing this week?

Kirk Ferentz: We have worked our younger players more extensively on Tuesday, and the guys that have played a lot, the guys that have had over 500 snaps, we tried to rest them a little bit. Then yesterday, we had more of a normal practice, but we also had an emphasis on guys that have not accumulated the amount of snaps that the starters have. It's a good opportunity to give them some work and attention, kind of like we do early in the bowl phase, and also keep our guys that have played, keep them sharp enough where when we go back full on Sunday, we will not lose our edge. It's a little different because our bye is a couple of weeks later than it was last year, so we are being a little more cautious and are giving our guys more of a break.

Q: Does the bye come at a good time?

Ferentz: Yeah, I think so. Bye's tend to be welcomed, and we will miss them. I will get on my soap box for a second. I think we (college football) are making a big mistake in the future by eliminating the bye week. I think that is a bad thing. I feel very strongly about that. I am hoping they will reevaluate that before we go too far down the road. Bye weeks are really important. It gives everyone a chance to regroup a little bit, as much mentally as physically.

Q: You lose your bye next year, right?

Ferentz: I think everyone does. That starts next year, unless some teams play after Thanksgiving. Your choices are to do that or not have the bye week. I think both of those are lousy alternatives. Flat out lousy.

Q: You want to play another game in August?

Ferentz: That would be my preference. Unofficially polling our players last year during the summer, they were very much in favor of that. They welcome the Thanksgiving break, and its now because its legal here at Iowa, where they have the week off academically and they like the bye week. A big part of our thinking is student athlete welfare, so I hope they take that into consideration.

Q: Is the financial impact the reason for the game?

Ferentz: To me, logic would dictate the revenue that it will create, which is the number one reason we are playing twelve games. Again, our players do not have a problem with that because they like to play games. But that being said, I am hopeful and I think it will happen…to me it's a move it was made and not much thought was given about the consequences we chose to make it work. The mechanics of the way we will make it work. It's like a lot of things. Something gets passed, it's a good idea, then you look at the problems you have created and then you reshape it.

Q: What has been your take of the team's attitude this week?

Ferentz: Tuesday, we did not do a lot with them. A walk thru then conditioned and got out. IT was a slow start, and you expect that. The game took a lot out of us and the outcome was disappointing. Everyone felt a little down and when you have a bye week, it seems to linger a little longer. There is not that urgency to get on with the next step. Hopefully it is washing its way through and the first thing we want to do is make sure we are using this week constructively, then the next most important thing is to get ready for the next three, with the next one most important.

Q: The team will have Friday and Saturday off?

Ferentz: Yes, they will be off the next two days. That will be good for everyone; to get some rest and they can be fans on Saturday.

Q: What is Ed's (Hinkel) status?

Ferentz: He is making progress. They have him exercising his hands and making sure the tendons and that stuff has some function. They are being aggressive there. We will take it week by week. I do not anticipate him next week, but after that, anything is possible. We will see how things go. It's still too early to say.

Q: How are things on the injury front?

Ferentz: I think we are in good shape. Willcox came out of the game on Saturday, and he has been having some shoulder problems. We will rehab that the next few weeks and see how it goes, and that is a concern. Ma'Quan Dawkins injured his knee in practice and that is a concern. Chris Brevi with his foot has been an ongoing problem. We are having a problem with the blood supply healing his bone. My guess is that he will be out for this season. It has been a tough road for him,

Q: Will you be a fan on Saturday?

Ferentz: Most definitely. I think, but I will have to look at this, I think everybody is on TV that we are playing. I will watch with interest and will watch conference games.

Q: There are more games on tv in the Big Ten than ever before. Going back to Saturday, there were some questionable calls in that game. Are you aware that more cameras are on you when you might have a…conversation with the officials? Do you guard what you say because of that?

Ferentz: Not really. I haven't seen any of those out there on TV, so I don't know if they were or not. I checked with my mom after our Purdue game, because it was national, and I asked here if she could see what I was saying at times, and she said yes. And I apologized to her. During the game, you are not thinking about where cameras may be. Cameras are everywhere now and anything you say anywhere can show up in print somewhere or on film. That being said, in a game; that is the way that it is. I think my mom understands that. I am normally not a bad guy.

Q: Did you send a tape of that game to the Big Ten?

Ferentz: Yeah, we do every week. We send a tape in every week. We might have spent more time and effort on this one, including TV shots and what have you. Dave Perry is great about responding. That is the way it goes.

Q: Was there anything extra in the message this week?

Ferentz: Umm…from our end? We included some, we wanted to make sure we covered all angles, so we included the TV coverage and I think it was fairly graphic. Yeah. I just wanted to make sure we were as thorough as we could be. IT does us no good, the game is over. But that is just a part of the process.

Q: When you get three pass interference penalties like that in the first half, it sends a message to your guys.

Ferentz: An analogy I would make is basketball. A game gets called a certain way. Your hopes are that it gets called that way both ways. I am just talking hypothetical. That is what you hope for in all sports. Bottom line is, the way things happened, it's not different than the wind blowing. What ever is happening, you have to adjust to it and play through it.

Q: Is it a harder adjustment for the defensive backs?

Ferentz: Yeah, you have to play…if it's windy, you play according to the conditions.

Q: You said they (the Big Ten) respond well?

Ferentz: We have had one conversation, before the film got there, based on some other stuff. But again you appreciate the communication, but you can't go backwards. I am not suggesting…yeah, we communicate good, bad or indifferent.

Q: Do you do that every week?

Ferentz: Yes, we do it every week. Dave pulls some of them off and uses them in clinic films, like we show tape to our guys.

Q: What jumps out at you when you look at the Big Ten race?

Ferentz: As I have said, last August we felt that things would be balanced and dangerous. That is what we are seeing. There are four weeks to go, four Saturday's left and I bet it goes down to the last week. Anything could happen. It's interesting for everybody. I think its very exciting. A lot of good players and guys stepping up and having great years.

Q: Did your staff hit the recruiting trail this week?

Ferentz: A couple of guys have been out and have gotten back. Just looking at selected players. We are trying to tier some prospects right now and make sure our evaluations are as on target as possible. My personal preference is too keep anyone here. Anytime our players are involved in football, you want the staff here 100 percent. We made an exception because it was important to learn more about a couple of players. But my preference, I would abolish recruiting in-season, period, and let coaches coach the guys on campus. But that is not the real world. I think it's awful.

Q: What are the rules on that?

Ferentz: You are allowed six days in the fall to evaluate, so we are burning a couple of days. If we were smart, we would send our whole staff out each day we burn, but I am not sold on this in season stuff. We have had a few guys off campus looking at some prospects. But if one guy goes out that burns the entire day for the staff. You are allowed six staff days. We are not using our manpower the way some do.

Q: Will you guys be recruiting Friday night?

Ferentz: We will have a couple of guys out looking at some games, and I will be out as a dad. That is even better. That does not count. I might even have a hot dog and popcorn.

Q: Anything could happen in the Big Ten. Where do you see Iowa and your chances?

Ferentz: It's in our hands. That is how I see it. The bad news is that we could lose any of the games and the good news is that we could win any three or any combination there of. I think it's a great situation. All you can ask for is a good shot and we have one. To me, this week is about us regrouping, improving and getting ready for the last three games. Almost everyone in our conference can say that, so there are a lot of excited teams right now.

Q: How close is your offense to hitting its stride?

Ferentz: I think we are getting there. We are not there yet, but we are improving. I feel like we are improving on defense. I thought that was our best defensive effort. Not so much statistics as I do the film and how we are doing things. In all phases, we can get better and that is good news. The only area we are kind of muddling around in is our kickoff return area. I don't think we have solved that. But there were some things on tape that looked better, but we are not out of the woods yet. That is our challenge now. We have this week plus three to get better and we need to do that.

Q: Do you believe that certain schools get the benefit of the doubt with calls?

Ferentz: I will say this, and I am not talking about this season. I will go back to the six years coming in to this year. I can only recall one game where I felt that the ball was rolling the other day or however you want to phrase it. That was against a brand name opponent. But outside of that, I don't know that I buy that, I really don't. There are days where you feel like that, but I can't recall many of those days.

Q: What was the name?

Ferentz: No, I would not go down that road.

Q: Last year at this time, your running back situation was tough. Now, you have Albert back there.

Ferentz: He has done great. It's not even close to a year ago. I think we are pretty much with our line now, that we have the right guys in the right spots and seeing improvement there weekly, with the coordination of how they are playing together. The last month we have learned more about how our offense functions. We are going down the right path. We have a quarterback who has played well for us, which is nice. We are better than we were a year ago on offense. I think we have the potential to improve. I don't want to use the word dramatic, but I think significantly. We knew our defense would be young up front early, but the experience is starting to help us. We are not a hard core veteran group yet, but we are getting better.

Q: Could you evaluate Tony Moeaki?

Ferentz: I think he is improving weekly. He had his best day the other day. We really think he has a great future, but you have to be careful how much you put on a young guy's plate.

Q: How is whole frosh class coming along, as you have had a look at them this week?

Ferentz: I can better answer that next Tuesday. We have been pleased with their progress during the year. Most of them are on scout teams like a lot of our best players have been. This has been a good week for us to watch them a little and learn more about them. If we can earn a bowl bid, that is another chance to really continue to bring those guys along. We are pleased.

Q: How much does it bother you when fans and the media question play calling?

Ferentz: It's a part of the game. It does not bother me in the least. That is a fan's prerogative, a parents prerogative. It's a part of the game.

Q: (Iowa Sports Information Director Phil Haddy asks if there are any other questions...things are quiet...then after 10 seconds, Kirk chimes in:

Ferentz: Are they harping on our play calling? (Laughs). So I missed it. See, it doesn't bother me. I will finish with this one, when I was at Pitt in 1980, we were 11-1 and finished second in the country. I think we were happy after three games. That was my introduction into major college football. As a staff we were happy after three. Whew. That is football.

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