KIRK FERENTZ OPENING STATEMENT
We have guys nicked up; it's that time of the year. Jovon is the most doubtful. He did not play Saturday and it's hard to tell. We will wait and see how it goes. It looks like Calvin Davis is making his way back; we will know more at the end of the week. Ed Hinkel is going to give it a shot today; I am not sure how to predict that one. Drew, we expect him to be ready to go. We will watch him today in practice, but I think he should be full speed. That worked out. Clinton Solomon, who was not injured last week but basically missed the last two weeks, the bye week plus last week with a family death. Our hearts go out to his family on that. It was a tough experience for him.
Wisconsin is having a great season. They are doing a great job. You watch them and look at them, they were a young football team early in the season, but they have done what it takes to be successful and they are having a great year. They ran into a buzz saw on Saturday, but the big picture, they are doing great.
Offensively, they have some outstanding performers. Calhoun has jumped right in there for Davis and does some things a little bit more than Davis did and Davis is an excellent player. They are veteran and talented at wide receiver, the line is doing nice and the quarterback is playing extremely well.
On Defense, they were young early in the year. Now they have nine or ten games experience going for them and they are playing better each week. They are playing well on special teams. They have a great punter who is having a great year. Williams is doing well in their return game. We have our challenges, not to mention going on the road and playing in a tough environment. We go back to work today and that is the goal right now, to get our team ready to play a great game on Saturday.
Q: Take me through how you will evaluate if Ed is ready to go?
Kirk Ferentz: We will see how he catches the ball, but he has been upbeat and optimistic. He has been able to run routes and he has been catching on a limited basis. The ultimate test would be how he plays on Saturday if he makes it that far, but how he does in team situations in practice and how he feels. He has been cleared medically to play and knowing Ed, he will fib a little bit and tell us he will be OK. We just have to watch it real closely.
Q: You mentioned a tough environment this week; how much tougher is it going to be that it's Barry's last game?
Ferentz: I was asked that earlier, and it's going no matter what when you go up there, or at least it has been since we have been back. I cannot imagine a better environment than it was there in 1999. We were the guests of honor that afternoon. It was a great college football environment. When you play a good team at the end of the season on their home turf, you run into those kinds of things. I imagine this will be up there with that ‘99 game. It's a tough challenge. It was not that way in the late 80's when I left here, and the credit goes to Barry. He has done a remarkable job during his time at Wisconsin and because of that, that's why it's tough to go there. It used to be easy, now it's a heck of a challenge.
Q: Would you say that you and Barry are closer than any of the other coaches on the Iowa staff from the 80's?
Ferentz: No question. Barry would not admit to it, but we get along pretty well. I am just joking on that one. Barry is the first guy I met when I came out here in 1981. He picked me up at the airport when I interviewed. We had some common bonds growing up in the same part of the country. It was a lot of fun working with him, I have had a lot of respect for him and we all had a good time in the 80's. It's been fun to watch the job that he did when I was gone from here for nine years. You watch all the guys you worked with. It has been remarkable what he has done and it's been fun to watch it. I have always looked forward to seeing him at the league meetings.
Q: Is it ironic that you will coach against him in his last game in Madison?
Ferentz: I am not going to make a big deal of it, because they still have two more games. There will not be any Kodac moments out there. They have enough of that going. It will be a special day for him and rightfully so. What a great career he has had. That will be a significant game. But he still has two more games after that. What a great job he has done.
Q: How hard is it to win three Rose Bowls not being Michigan or Ohio State, like Barry has done?
Ferentz: I doubt anyone has ever done it. First off it means that you have to have consistency and staying power, which Barry has demonstrated that. You have to be doing a lot of things right. It's tough to do.
Q: Bret's (Bielema) defense has been porous at times this year. How do you attack it?
Q: That is a good question. They are still committed to stopping the run which makes it tough, it's tough to come up with plays that are going to have a chance to be clean. Our backs will have to do a great job of running tough. They make it real tough on you. They were a young group early and they have grown up, like our group. They are getting better. It will be a tough challenge.
Ferentz: Did you see anything that Penn State did on defense that you can use?
Ferentz: Their rush defense? Yeah, I saw an excellent defensive football team and if Coach Paterno would allow us to borrow…they are off this week, I don't know if he would agree to that, I have not called him yet. They had an excellent defense a year ago and many of those guys played in 2003 when they were young. They have really grown a lot and are playing super right now. They are one of the better defensive teams in the nation. That does not do you much help.
Q: Now that you have had three days to digest it, what happened down the stretch Saturday?
Ferentz: We got beat by a team that played better than we did. We knew that coming in that they were a 60 minute ball club and that is the bottom line. They made the plays they had to make in the last three minutes and they made some earlier in the game, too. It's like anytime you lose, you look back and dissect more than you do after a win. You can pull 10 to 15 plays and if one of those we convert, it's a different outcome. If's and buts and candy and nuts. Credit goes to them; they did what they had to do to be successful.
Q: How are the younger guys doing at linebacker?
Ferentz: One of the best things that have happened to us is that our best players have been our best role models. I know that Mike Klinkenborg and Mike Humpal would like to play more. They have worked hard and they have shown in practice that they are getting the idea. They are doing a good job on special teams, and that is what Chad and Abdul had after their redshirt year. That is a good way for a player to get his feet wet. Both those guys are doing a real good job. We are confident they will step in there when its their turn.
Q: Are you disappointed in this season?
Ferentz: I think anytime you lose a game you are. We have lost back to back games, both in the last minute or last play. Of course it's disappointing. Each one of those was because you hope for better. As far as taking the whole season, it's not over and secondly, I prefer to wait until the season is over to evaluate it or make conclusions. Right now our focus is on what we can do this week to avoid another disappointing outcome, because both of those were tough.
Q: What can you take away from the last three minutes against Northwestern?
Ferentz: I would look at both games together. The bottom line is that we are 5-4 and we are how ever many plays you want to list from being a 7-2 ball club. Last year we were 7-2. But the difference is that we made those plays somehow some way, and this year we have not gotten that done. My focus would be on the last two games. That is the difference between winning and losing in a league like this where things have been pretty even these last two games. It's always easy to focus on the end, but there are a lot of plays that happen during the course of a game. That is a part of the education in sports; you never know until after a game what situation might have impacted the game. I think that is probably the lesson that is learned and it does not do a lot of good to dwell on it now. We need to prepare better and go from there. If we were lacking effort, commitment; I would really be concerned. But the last two weeks, those things have been as good as they have all season long. That part at least you can…you have a chance when you have that. If you don't have that, you are in trouble.
Q: Some of the seniors are blaming themselves. Do you think that is fair?
Ferentz: I don't. I will just say this about that. After a ball game, especially one like that, things are going to be said by young people that…their hearts are in the right place, but there is a tendency to overreact or over…accountable maybe. It's a team thing; we win and lose as a team. We are getting good senior leadership, we just didn't make the plays we needed to make. I am not worried about our senior leadership.
Q: What did you tell Drew after his touchdown dive. Do you tell him to hit the ground, because that came back and bit you later.
Ferentz: I don't think that bit us. We scored a touchdown. First of all, that is Drew. Elway did the same thing and it looked good. That is a guy selling out. Perfect world, maybe we slide there and try to punch it in. I can live with that. To me, that did not impact the game at all. We missed a series with him, but we had so many other opportunities, so I do not dwell on that at all. I don't dwell on any one particular play. There were a lot of them that…I could give you 10 or 15 that if we did better, we are not even talking about it and we are moving on to Wisconsin.
Q: What is or was your reaction to your sportsmanship being questioned?
Ferentz: I just said a minute ago, after a ball game, it's easy for people to…easy is not the right word. I guess I would just encourage everyone to look at the record. I have never researched how many personal fouls we have been guilty of during a season. To answer your question, I have not given it a lot of thought.
Q: The emotional factors would seem to favor Wisconsin this week.
Ferentz: A lot of things would favor them, based on their circumstance. But that is football. That is the challenge that is out there for us right now. If I were worried about our emotions or our commitment level or playing with toughness…we just haven't played well enough. We are playing hard. The last two weeks we have prepared better than we have all season. I really think we are improving. Did we close the deal the last two weeks? No. If you don't do that then you leave yourself open to getting beat, especially in this league. The next two weeks, let alone this week, will be the same deal.
Q: Do the fans seem to let losses linger longer than the players and coaches do?
Ferentz: Hopefully that is the case. I think there is some truth in that. If you are not careful, things can linger. In our situation, people not involved with the team, they are going to dwell on what has happened, whether it's good or bad. Nobody else is getting ready for a game, but our focus needs to be on what is productive for us right now. For us to win this week we will have to be perfect and that starts with practice and what we do this week. That is where we need our guys burning energy.
Q: A lot was made after Adam's interception, the TV made a lot out of the celebration on the sidelines.
Ferentz: I glimpsed at two particular situations. My whole take on this is that if we had won the game, not one word gets said. But we lose, then it's the next biggest thing to the last hurricane. You know what I am saying. That is how it works, it goes with the territory. Matt Roth did something that was cute, and because we were winning and playing great it's now big deal. Now it's a crisis situation. That is how I look at it.
Q: Was there any let up on defense there at the end?
Ferentz: I read that, but I did not see it. If you can show me on tape, Adam Shada, Chad, any of those guys not playing as hard as they can play, I would love to see it. I did not see it. I look at every play. If I see that, I am concerned. There were some things…if they are spontaneous I am OK with it, if not, there is a word or two with the player. It's amazing when you win its not an issue, when you lose, it is. That's life. It's part of the territory. I am not bucking that, it's just the way it is.
Q: If you saw them letting up, would you tell us?
Ferentz: It would be easy to see. Everybody here was at the game. You can tell. I have seen those things. I don't know if I can say…I would have to think about it, I don't know if any of our teams have done that. When that happens, its tough and I have seen that happen in football. I have been involved with teams that have done it, just not here. It's the worst thing in the world.