Candid On the Side with Kirk Ferentz

Ferentz gives his opinions on those that blame Ken O'Keefe/play calling & more...

Q: Is it possible that this sticks with the guys the rest of the way?

Kirk Ferentz: Anything is possible. I am worried about our reaction. You have to worry about that. We will have to figure that out this afternoon. If we don't respond properly today, I will be down.

Q: Do you get a chance to take the temperature of the team, when you get off the bus on Sunday to in the weight room on Monday, before coming to practice?

Ferentz: The guys, a fair percentage, lift on Mondays. They choose to do that. That is their day off. I circulate through there and just say hello to everyone.

Q: Are you asking certain players where people are at?

Ferentz: Occasionally. There are some people I visit with about things and try to procure some information. The bottom line is getting out there on the field and seeing if we are spirited or if we are still in mourning. You can't be in sports. We have not had that problem. This is not the first time we have lost, or back to back. It's a simple rule in sports; if you wallow, chances are you will let the next opponent step on you. I think our guys understand that, but we have to keep going and you don't take anything for granted.

Q: What do you say to Iowa fans who question senior leadership?

Ferentz: I think it's silly. I don't see Chad Greenway 24 hours a day, but I see him a lot. I wish all of our players had the spirit, energy, commitment and passion for the game that Chad has. What more can you say? This guy is one of the all time great players to play here. If there is something wrong with him, I am not seeing it. To me, leadership is giving everything you have out there. That is in games, practice, away from the building and doing things the way you are supposed to. When I think about him, that is what I think of. Abdul, you go down the list. I think it's all a byproduct of us getting beat. If we could change any of those 10 or 15 plays, it's a non-issue. He is an energetic guy. He plays with emotion and he has emotion.

Q: He and the referee were talking about not hitting Basanez on a fake.

Ferentz: I don't know. I saw the play and it did not draw my attention. Are they referring to the lat penalty? I will say this about that penalty; I watched that play a lot. Unless you coach a guy to pull off if you think he is going down…that is a hell of a way to play defense, it's impossible. It was hardly a vicious hit. I don't even think he hardly touched the guy. It's football. We are not wearing skirts, it was not malicious.. Believe me, if he wanted to drill him, he would have drilled him. But that wasn't it. He was trying to avoid the play. It's hard to play aggressively when you tell them to do and don't. The bottom line, and I don't fault the officials at all on Saturday, even the other one, if a quarterback is involved, they are going to protect the quarterback. I am all for that. The NFL has something if you drill a quarterback, you are going to pay heavily. And it should be. But this was an unavoidable thing in my mind and it was penalized and it should have been. I don't fault Chad at all. He is playing hard and aggressive, but hardly dirty.

Q: With how busy you are as a coach, can you imagine Barry's dual role as coach and AD at Wisconsin?

Ferentz: Absolutely not.

Q: What does that say about Barry?

Ferentz: I think he is crazy. Bob Devaney went down that road, and Barry was impacted by Bon Devaney just like Coach Fry or Coach Holtz. But no way would I do that. You never say never, but we will say never on these two; athletic director or college president. You will not see me there, because I have no idea what they do for fun. Coaches at least go to practice for two hours a day. Those two jobs, you talk about thankless jobs. Oh my gosh.

Q: What do you do if you sense the players are flat in practice?

Ferentz: That is a great question. I don't know. I guess you get creative.

Q: Has that happened?

Ferentz: Yeah, it can happen. Basically you address it and hope things change.

Q: Does it make it harder that none of these players have been here in this position?

Ferentz: We have all experienced losses. It's hard to measure degrees of difficulty. Do you bounce back after getting slaughtered at Ohio State? DO you bounce back after a very high profile disappointing loss to Iowa State where you don't give yourself a chance to win? There are always challenges when you lose. There are other challenges that you have to respond to, but it's a part of the territory. If you play sports, you better get used to it because it probably will happen during your career.

Q: You have come out firing on offense in the first half of games, yet have not had that in the second half. Why is that?

Ferentz: I am not sure that I can answer that. We have talked about it and I am not sure I can answer that. We have had good success coming out of the chute?

Q: Is it a credit to the script?

Ferentz: Obviously it has worked and all of that. For whatever reason, it's a fact, we have not been as productive in the early part of the second half. I wish I had an answer.

Q: Can you script in the third?

Ferentz: Yeah, some people do it. You have to be willing to tinker with it based on what they are doing and the other variable is what you might see in the third that you didn't see in the first half.

Q: Have you?

Ferentz: Not to my recollection. Not officially. We all pool thoughts in there at halftime. Kind of shortlist our plays. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.

Q: It seems like some of the fans are blaming the second half on Ken (O'Keefe).

Ferentz: That is ridiculous. Blame me. I am the head coach. I OK everything that happens on offense, defense and special teams. The worst call of the game was the punt block which I called for. I got greedy. Matt Kroul bailed me out. It's silly to blame anybody. It's just silly (grunt). It's silly. All of this stuff, to me, change one play out of 15, it's all a non-issue. It comes with the territory. It does not bother me. Everyone is welcome to their opinion; it's a part of what makes sports great. But in my opinion, it's silly to target one person and it's counterproductive.

Q: Are you surprised how quickly that stuff shifts?

Ferentz: That is sports. If we had won those two games, which were doable, it's a whole different story. We are the comeback kids and all that stuff. The rebounders, crummy start guys that finish strong. That is how it is. But it's not over yet, so that is what we have to worry about.

Q: You keep talking about 10 or 15 plays. Is it a mix among all the units?

Ferentz: Everywhere. I could name any of the three segments. Not every phase of special teams, because we played pretty well on special teams. There was a play or two in there, the punt block; what was I thinking about? That is part of football, too. Kroul bailed me out on that one. You can usually go back and say if we would have done this so it would have compensated for this mistake. That is football. Its checks and balances.

Q: It seems like there were a lot of those in this game.

Ferentz: There were. It was one of those games. You are not involved in games like that too often. We squandered a few opportunities in the Michigan game, too. It was not like we didn't have a few chances there. The challenge for us right now is to do a better job of not squandering opportunities. That is how I am looking at it. Our effort has been good, we are playing hard but we are not playing smart enough or well enough. That is the challenge that is ahead right now.

Q: It seems like the 10 or 15 plays in games last year went your way.

Ferentz: If we don't hit the hail mary, we are bums there. That is the way that it goes. You look at last year; we found more different ways to find a way to win. That is a challenge that is out there. That is the fun part about all of this. It's what makes it exciting and it's probably why people watch. It's typically not a predictable outcome. It gets back to the preseason. People want to predict what will happen; well, that is why you play the games. That is human nature; we all want to know the answer before we start down the path. Who will win this or that? That is the uniqueness of sport.

Q: Do you think the lofty preseason expectations have anything to do with any of this?

Ferentz: I will talk about those kinds of things at the end of the year.


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