Q: (A question on Abdul Hodge being overlooked by national media in favor of Greenway)
Kirk Ferentz: Middle linebacker is a bit being like a center or a tight end, a team has to have a need. There's a little bit of slotting going on there. I don't know if we've had a more consistent player in our program since I've been here, in all phases, on the field, off the field. He's going to make somebody a lot better.
Q: If I remember, his first big responsibility was when you had a lot of problems with the punt team.
Ferentz: Four years as our QB on the punt team. You've got to have the right kind of guy at that spot, he's just been tremendous. When I talk to pro guys, I say it's kind of indicative of this guy. He's on top of the game all the time. He has been overshadowed a little bit, but I don't think he's moaning too much about it. I think Abdul looks at the big picture.
Q: What's the difference between making an in-home visit in Florida now versus in 2001?
Ferentz: We've been down there, so there's a little bit more familiarity certainly. This is what, 4 straight now that we've been there? People are at least aware of our program. It just helps, there's a little bit more of an openness I guess to accepting. You have to get a prospect that's willing to leave the state lines, leave the SEC or the Big East. Fortunately there are plenty of them.
Q: Is your signing number going to be around 20 still?
Ferentz: I think that'll be pretty close. Give or take one. 19-21, is that what that means?
Q: How's the reception been the last couple weeks with the guys coming in?
Ferentz: It's been good. The visits have gone well, other than trying logistically to get them on campus. That's part of living in the Midwest, things are going well, things are positive so far.
Q: Talk about the breakout year this has been for Albert Young.
Ferentz: As I've stated, we felt good about Albert two years ago. First and foremost, I'm just happy he's been able to play. The worst thing in the world is for a player to stand on the sidelines with a cast on or rehabbing an ACL repair, those type of things. Any time a guy has back-to-back or two major injuries, your heart really goes out to him even more so. I'm just happy he's been able to play and be productive. He's played about the way we thought he would, I think he's gotten better with every week. He's gotten more and more confident, he's obviously a very productive football player. I really like his dynamics that he possesses. He's got great intangibles, that's an added plus.
Q: It seems like since he came on campus, right away you had him destined for big things. What did you see in him?
Ferentz: He's a very good football player. I've said it before, I thought he was a good high school football player. Darrell Wilson had a real feel about him, and I wasn't seeing that on film, necessarily. After I went in the house, you could just sense something special about Albert. Fortunately, we've been able to see that now and enjoy that since he's been with us for three years. He's a high-energy guy, a very positive guy.
Q: Do you and Urban Meyer have a relationship at all?
Ferentz: The first time I met him was down at the press deal. I remember reading somewhere we were across the field when he was at Ohio State, but no, I don't know him.
Q: Did you work with anyone he's worked with?
Ferentz: He worked with Joe Moore. I don't know how many years, but they were together there. I think he was a receiver coach, so it was just him and the line coach, I think. At that point I think it was just "Let me coach the lineman." I think he's more of a well-known commodity than I am. To me, I'm just a guy. (Laughs)
Ferentz: His name was everywhere last year on ESPN and all that stuff. I'm just coaching at Iowa. I'm just coaching at Iowa. I'm just coaching at Iowa. (Laughs)
Q: You talk a little bit about Albert Young, what's the ceiling for someone like him? We've seen now that he's only just scratching the surface. First sophomore since Sedrick to go for 1000.
Ferentz: Sedrick's got big numbers, I know that. I know Albert was the only sophomore on the Doak Walker thing, the guy's just a heck of player. He's a heck of a person. There's nothing you don't like about the guy. The way he is, the way he conducts himself, I really appreciate his intangibles just as much as his production, maybe even more so. That just makes his production that much more valuable. We've been fortunate. Our best guys have been really good guys, so that helps.
Q: Can you extrapolate at all about what you're looking for from the young guys? You hear so much about those three or four weeks of practice, that's the difference, that helps good teams stay good.
Ferentz: The big difference, once you get in season, it's really tough to carve out time where you can really coach those guys, spend some drill work with them. More importantly, teach them about how we do things. A lot of their time ends up representing the opponents (on the scout team), it's hard because in-season your priority is what's going on Saturday. All that said, now we can put the brakes on things here this month, for the whole team it's good just to worry about us being fundamentally sound, keeping our edge. Cautionary thing there is that you make sure you don't overdo it there. It gives you a nice window to work hard with the younger players that weren't out playing in Kinnick. The hopes are, again, that when we get to spring ball, they'll be that much better and more prepared to compete within our system and try and see if they can climb the charts a little bit.
Q: Do you slot for 06 a little bit at that point?
Ferentz: Yeah. It's not really that we're looking to 06, we're just looking to develop guys, help push their progress forward. That's really the goal there when we're doing those segments of practice. To me, if a guy comes in with a good attitude, works hard, he's got a chance to add to his fundamental base.
Q: Is that a tough balance between that and game prep?
Ferentz: Yes, and no. We've got a bit of a bonus here, it would have been tougher if we were playing on the 28th, you'd just end up cutting some things out. At some point, you've really got to turn your focus to the game. That being said, you worry about turning it too soon too. You don't want the guys looking at you the last week like "I've heard this, we've done that, get away from me," one of those deals. It's a delicate balance.
Q: (On Warren Holloway) Do you kind of feel bad that that's sort of his moment in time? I laughed as he almost got tired of talking about that moment, Bucky Dent, or whatever analogy you want.
Ferentz: I'm not sure that one's ever going to lapse totally, for him or a lot of people. For us, it lapsed as soon as we got going this season. I imagine that one's going to live for a while.
Q: Is he still in that Indoor League?
Ferentz: Yeah. He's interested in coming in for our pro timing day. He wants to try and get some exposure again, so I told him he's more than welcome to that. I think he told me he was back in Chicago working there. He definitely wants to come back for pro day.
Q: Can you understate what that moment means, not just from an emotional standpoint, not just winning the game, but for the fact that people will still talk about that and always will. He almost becomes this icon forever.
Ferentz: I think it's neat in two respects, number one that it was him, and not the best known guy on the football team, I think that was great. And the other thing, I think equally as nice is the way he's handled it. I think he's just done a great job of being the guy that did that, he's been very humble about it, his comments to me have just been perfect. It makes it a pretty good story. Couldn't happen to a better guy.
Q: Any position changes so far this bowl season?
Ferentz: Nothing firm. We're toying around with a couple of things, but nothing firm at this stage.