Open Practice Transcript: Kirk Ferentz

Kirk Ferentz spoke with the media following Iowa's open practice at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday. Read what Iowa's head coach had to say about the development of his team, his thoughts on today's practice, possible true freshmen playing, and much, much more in this transcript.

Q: Opening Statement

Kirk Ferentz: Two players that have are going to take medical red shirts or career-ending injuries. Chris Brevi has had a foot injury for about 15, 16 months. They came back, and gave it a try for a couple days, he just can't hold up out there, physically. He's going to end up taking a medical red shirt. The other guy is Maquan Dawkins. He's had a couple knee surgeries then had to get a repair back in July. Unfortunately, he's not going to be able to play this year. He'll graduate in December and Chris will graduate next May. Just give you that update. Other roster adjustment, as far as guys leaving, Julian Smith has not passed through the clearing house as of this date so he will not be matriculating here on Monday. You know, I'll just say this, I'm more than confused about how the NCAA processes are working right now. I'd probably equate it to my knowledge of physics which was about two days in high school, so I don't know how the process works, but I do know Julian will not be with us. Julian Vandevelde has joined the team, he came to camp this week and has been added on to the roster. The two position changes, that we've made, AJ Edds has moved tot he outside linebacker position. Ben Evans has jumped over to the defensive backfield, he's working at corner right. Ken Iwebema joined the team on Monday, Monday afternoon, so he's back with the ball club. Injury wise, basically, I think we've been fortunate outside of the couple guys I mentioned at the onset. We've had some bumps and bruises you expect in camp. I think outside of one player, we expect everybody to be fully ready to go for opening day. Ettore Ewen is really the only complicated matter right now. It's not the same as Mike Klinkenborg last year, but it's similar, where he's coming off some significant injuries and he's not able to work at full volume. My guess is that it's going to be one good day, one bad day, that type of thing. I think he'll be available if not the opening game, somewhere soon thereafter, but he's missed a lot of time right now, he's got some work to do. That's going to be something we're going to have to deal with for a while. Overall I think we've had a decent camp, although today was our 19th working and if you just showed up today and watched the first practice, you'd never know we'd had 19 workouts. We had a lot of bad mistakes out there, penalties, some exchange problems, things of that nature. Probably the worst play of the game, I think I saw was us giving up a 3rd down conversion then celebrating a hit. That concerns you a little bit just in terms of the way we're thinking about things. We've a lot of work to do, but the body of our work during camp has been good. Clearly we have a lot of work to do before we're ready to go. That's the challenge that's ahead of us here in the next two weeks.

Q: What's going on with Humpal, and who's replacing Brevi at #2 behind Humpal?

Ferentz: Today, Gavin ran #1 and I think AJ Edds was #2 there. Like I said, we expect everybody to be back next week.

Q: Gavin McGrath moved up nicely.

Ferentz: Yeah, he's done a good job, he's been working hard since he got here. We've flipped him around a bit, posit9ionally. Inside backer, outside backer, offense, I think he's found a home. He's doing a good job and we'll se how things shake out. I would think he'll enter the special teams sweepstakes too.

Q: That OLB position, is that where Julian was?

Ferentz: Yeah, he was working there.

Q: What's the schedule for the team for the next few days?

Ferentz: We start school on Monday, then we'll be off on Monday, that's our player's day off, we'll keep it that way right from the on-set. We want the players to stay in pre-season camp mode, if you will. Even though they've moved out of the hotel this morning, they're going to be living in their various places, the dorms, apartments. I think we need to have a mindset that we're still in pre-season, we're not getting ready for our opening ballgame at this stage. Obviously if you looked at today's workout we've got a lot of things to clean up. Some things are very obvious, some things are a little bit more subtle. Our focus is still on getting better as a football team and we'll worry about our opening opponent earlier in the week.

Q: Kenny has returned, and he's practicing with the second team?

Ferentz: Yeah. He's missed a lot of time so he's got some work to do. He's practicing real well, his attitude's been great, that's what we expected.

Q: Damian Sims continues to break off the big plays. Where does he fit in with Albert and the #1 tailback spot?

Ferentz: Albert Young is our #1 tailback, he's been practicing just tremendously well. We have not had Albert get tackled yet this camp. The first time he'll be tackled will be on September 2nd. With a little luck, maybe not that day either, but I think he probably will be. It's a bit like Fred Russell, Albert's proven to us he can play, and we've treated him that way. He's been practicing tremendously well. His attitude is outstanding, he's really sharp, the best we've seen him since he's been on campus. I feel great about that. Damian's been doing well, Shonn Greene's been doing extremely well too. I think we've got a good situation at the RB position right now.

Q: Do you know why it took so long for a final ruling on the Smith situation?

Ferentz: No. My understanding is that there's a lot of things that are still pending out there. This one isn't totally closed to my knowledge. The problem is that school starts on Monday. As I understand it, if you don't pass through the clearinghouse, you're not eligible to start classes. I think, I don't pretend to be an expert, but my sense is that this isn't the only case nationally. I've got a feeling we'll all be reading about it here in the near future. It's unfortunate for the individual, personally in a perfect world, you'd like to see the players know their status at an earlier date so they can make appropriate plans and have some time to think things out. I think all of us feel better with any news over no news. That's the world we're living in. I'll keep my mouth shut, I know I can get fined by the Big Ten, but I don't want to get fined by anybody else, I'll just end it right there. My knowledge of this is about as extensive as my knowledge of physics. Like I said, I lasted 2 days in high school with that one. I don't pretend to know much about either case.

Q: When did you find out?

Ferentz: Definitively?

Q: Yeah

Ferentz: I mean, school starts Monday. It wasn't looking good this week that things were going to be resolved, they haven't been resolved at this point. He can't be in school on Monday, that's all I know.

Q: You mentioned there was a lot of stuff you'd like to see improvement on from this team. What are some of the areas you have seen improvement on in the last 2 weeks?

Ferentz: I just think in general. I think practices have gone pretty well. First and foremost, we've stayed healthy, which is critical, you always worry about that. You can't over-worry it. I think that things have been progressively better in every area. Today didn't look like a step forward, that's a little concerning, disappointing more than anything. You'd like to think that when you come into a stadium, the first time we've been in the stadium and had a crowd here. You'd like to think that would get everybody's juices going a little bit. I'm not sure that was the case. That was my impression today. On that topic, what an unbelievable job they've done with this stadium. I've never seen the field any better. They've done a fantastic job with the field. Our only concern right now is putting a team out there on the field that looks half as good as the field or the stadium, that's the problem we've got right now.

Q: 19 practices in, any true freshmen looking to contribute?

Ferentz: We're still looking at things. The receiver position, we've got some guys that could make a run, AJ Edds may factor in on defense, we're exploring those possibilities, certainly. I haven't shut the door anywhere else, but those are probably the two that jump out the most at this point.

Q: Talk about the secondary, your starters are coming through OK, maybe getting nicked up behind them?

Ferentz: We came into it thin, and we remain thin. We're breaking in two new starters at corner. Until those two guys show that they can play, we're optimistic, but until they show that they can play on game days, you always have a little question in your mind, I guess, there. We're certainly working to develop depth at the corner position as well as the safety position, especially with two seniors playing safety. That's a concern too. I think we're coming along, I'm not quite sure how far yet, that's something certainly this week we're going to have to address and have some discussions and try and come up with a good plan.

Q: Do you get any gauge on how serious Bradley's injury looked to be?

Ferentz: Bradley Fletcher, I'm with you. I think pretty minimal. I think we're looking at a couple days, from what Paul said.

Q: Chandler was out, any update on his status?

Ferentz: As I've said, I think everybody, right now, we've had minimal type injuries. We expect every body to be ready to go. Probably sooner than later.

Q: Kenny Iwebema, is a strong second-teamer now?

Ferentz: I'd say he's probably the strongest second-teamer we have right now. Not to make light of the situation, but Alex Kanellis has done a great job, we anticipated that. Again, it's probably pretty good training. As I said back in early August, it's no different to me than somebody going out with an injury, somebody's got to step up and get the job done. Kenny's been practicing real well, he's got to earn his way back in there, that's probably about as simple as that.

Q: Can you elaborate why he was held out at this point?

Ferentz: I'm not going to, no. I can, but I'm not going to. Not to be a smart alec.

Q: Is there anyone who really impressed you today?

Ferentz: (Pauses) It's hard without seeing the film. You get a little bit more feel for general demeanor. I just thought we'd have a bit more zip today than we did. That's something we'll have to figure out here in the next few weeks. Not good to come into the stadium and not have a little zip.

Q: How have you handled the #2 QB situation through this point?

Ferentz: We've been using Jason a lot at receiver, so he probably didn't look as sharp today as he would normally. It's given Jake a good o0pportunity to get an awful lot of work, we've toyed around like we did today. Drew's been pretty sharp, so it gave us a chance to work Jake a little bit, get Jason a lot of work too. It's probably a jump ball between the two of those guys. It would probably depend on the situation and they've got the next two weeks. In a perfect situation, hopefully we'll feel good about having both those guys in the game. I think Jake's made strides in that area. Jason, I think, with more work will feel good about that too. You'd hate to go into a game without two guys ready to go. In an optimal situation you've got 3. We may get to that point this year.

Q: Is that a little bit of a case where you want to keep Jason handy and sharp?

Ferentz: I don't think there's any question, yeah.

Q: That keeps him from devoting more time at receiver.

Ferentz: We're not ready to abort Jason at QB. We want to keep getting him some work. Last couple days we've gotten him some more work, to make sure he's ready to go, just in case.

Q: Can you see him playing a big role at receiver for you?

Ferentz: I don't know about 'big' yet, but we're trying to carve out a role, just because he's a guy that we have great trust and faith in. I think he's been doing some things pretty well. He's had some big days out here. I wouldn't rule that out, but we're still up in the air in terms of how we're going to break it down with all the receivers at hits stage. This week will be a big part of that.

Q: Is center pretty settled?

Ferentz: Not really. We're not totally 100% sold on anything yet. Today we rotated guys around a little bit, we've done a little of that this week. I think it's still pretty clear who our top 6 linemen are. That being said, Rob Bruggeman has done a nice job. He's really, to me, climbed up there a bit too. I feel pretty good about having 3 centers. It's a bit like the QB position. Usually you don't have 3 guys you feel that can snap the ball in a game, but as far as the final line up, we're not quite there yet.

Q: What's Herb doing, he looks a bit more comfortable out there, he's hanging onto the ball, making plays.

Ferentz: I thought he improved greatly last year. Probably more behind the scenes than in public, but he's continuing on that path. He had a good spring, he's doing a good job. He's moved along pretty well.

Q: Are you happy right now with where the starting secondary is at this point?

Ferentz: Yes and no, we can always play better. We have the potential to be pretty good back there, but we can do better. Just like up front, those guys have practiced pretty well, but we still need to get more pressure up front on the passer. We have things to work on in all areas at this stage. Fortunately we have two weeks to go yet.

Q: You had a couple recruits in today, can you just talk about the positive impact and atmosphere that was here today?

Ferentz: This is something we started 5, 6 years ago, I don't think we did it our first year. Just having the kids day concept and I think any time our fans are in the stadium, it's a good environment to have visitors here. It's a nice opportunity to get some people on campus and let them get a taste of what the crowd's like here in Kinnick, a small sample, get some exposure to the stadium on top of it.

Q: Season's just two weeks away, doe sit feel like it's rushed up on you, or can you not wait?

Ferentz: A little bit of each. You never have enough time, but the start of camp kind of creeps up on you and boom, it's time to go. We're in the same boat here right now. I think we've had everything mapped out, it's just a matter of us doing the quality work that needs to be done. The other thing is that we just need to stay healthy. I don't want to talk much about it and jinx us, but hopefully we can stay on that path, the whole team show up for the first game.

Q: (A question on Andy)

Ferentz: We've been very appreciative and that's a policy we have. If guys prove they can contribute and help us, we're going to try and reward them the first chance we get. Andy's done a great, great job.

Q: Have you had a chance to talk to Greenway at all?

Ferentz: I left him a voicemail, I know Chris spoke to him directly the night of. The good news, you always try and find some good news. He felt good about where he was at as a football player. He's confident now. He knows he can do it, he knows he can start in the NFL, he thought that might happen in the next week or so. The other good news, if there is such a thing in an injury, he's been down that road before, with his other knee. He knows you can come back from it and he knows how to come back from it. I guess the other thing is that it's early in his career, it's better than being in the middle or the end of your career, I guess. Bottom line, his spirits are good, he's up-beat. You guys know Chad, he's one of those guys to take it as a challenge, he'll come back quicker than he's supposed to, all that. This season's a wash, the good news is that he's a young guy, he'll be OK.

Q: Are you surprised Abdul's been a big hit at camp?

Ferentz: No, not at all. I know he's got work to do too. There are some things about his game that he's got to shore up, but Abdul did the same thing in front of us for 4 years, ever since his red shirt freshman year. He's going through all that now. It's simply a matter of time, I don't pretend to know when that's going to happen for him at green bay, but if he's not starting here somewhere in the next year to three years, I'll be shocked. I don't think there are enough good players in the NFL to keep him out of the starting lineup. I say that with all the respect to the guys they have, but he'll be a guy that I've got to think will be in their starting lineup somewhere early in his career. Not saying this year or this week or this month, but it'll happen.

Q: People say Gallery has struggled, have you had a chance to see him?

Ferentz: No, I haven't. If he is, tell him we know the feeling.

Q: Talk about the positives of keeping the team together in the hotel for training camp. Is it a group-building experience?

Ferentz: I think so. To me, it's a great teaching environment, first and foremost. This is the only time of year we can totally have the team captivated. I say totally with an asterisk. We never have them totally captivated. But at least you have a better chance of keeping their focus on what's in front of them for most of the hours of the day. I think it's good for camaraderie, they can all go back and complain to each other about the coaches or the schedule, or being in the hotel and stuff. That's good to, that's part of life, you don't want them too happy in camp, that's for sure. It's one time where they're all together, they're riding around in those little university vans together, squeezed in there like sardines. I think that's really healthy for a football team, no question about that.

Q: Is it better than a dorm, you think?

Ferentz: If we could totally have a dorm for that period of time, that's where we'd be, but unfortunately because of the calendar, the school calendar, it's just not feasible. In the old days, that's what we did, but I think they started entering the dorm, parking started getting tough at the training table on Monday, I think that's what it was. So this week is, it just wouldn't have been feasible. Certainly in camp you don't want guys living in apartments, living in the dorms, that type of thing, that's not good. Too much temptation. It's OK if they're thinking it, just can't be doing it.

Q: (A question on Rowell)

Ferentz: He's got a foot, not an ankle issue. It's nothing major. Fortunately, we haven't had anything spectacular.

Q: What exactly is wrong with Brevi's foot?

Ferentz: It's a navicular, I hadn't heard of it until John Alt had one in 1982. Bob Horner, the baseball player, had one prior to that. Until Chris had his injury, I didn't realize you have a navicular bone in your foot. I don't want to come off like a doctor, because I'm a foot. I think with the navicular bone, the blood supply doesn't get to the bone, so healing is really tricky. Unfortunately, it hasn't worked, and he's looking at another surgery and major rehab to try and get it back to where he can live a functional life. I think right now the tentative plan is to do it after he's done with finals in December. You don't want it now, that would screw up the whole semester. He's going to get his academics taken care of then get that done and at least have a month to get off the crutches, that type of thing and be semi-mobile when he gets back. The only bad thing about our game is injuries, that's the worst part about our game. You just hate to see any player's career end with an injury. Not that ACLs are routine, but guys come back from ACLs pretty routinely now, unlike 15 years ago. But this is the kind of injury where you're rolling the dice and hoping for the best.

Q: What kind of hit is it to lose Brevi and Julian, guys at the same position?

Ferentz: It's part of football. We certainly knew in Chris' position that there was a chance he couldn't make it. It's kind of an interesting rule, I don't want to get into rules again, but I think we did the right thing, we allowed him to come back to camp. (Brevi) is going to take a medical right now, you don't get those scholarships back. That seems like a silly rule.

Q: If you're on the 105, you can't get the scholarship back?

Ferentz: That could have potentially gone to a walk-on. This has been 15 months in the making, but I think we did the right thing, I wouldn't do it any other way. I'm not sure. I'll stop right there. It's another rule I'm a little confused about.

Q: Khaliq Price is gone, apparently?

Ferentz: I didn't mention him, my gosh, I'm sorry. Khaliq Price has transferred to Towson State.

Q: You said Drew's been really sharp as of late, is there anything he needs to improve on?

Ferentz: Yeah, his game performance, but he can't do that for 2 weeks. I say that half in jest, he's really had a good camp. He's been sharp, he hasn't been perfect. I don't mean to suggest he's been perfect, but he's really looked good, his arm's been live, he's throwing the ball well, and that's about all we can ask from him. The big thing is that what we ask him to do is keep the pressure on himself and keep working to get better. I think internally his motor is running pretty good right now.

Q: Why didn't you guys have him zipping it around today?

Ferentz: He's been looking pretty good. His arm might be a little tired right now, I don't know. To us, it was a good opportunity to give the other guys a little work and let it go.

Q: BJ Travers, is he around?

Ferentz: Yeah, he's around. He'll be back with us on Tuesday.


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