Montana Week: Kirk on the Side

Kirk Ferentz talks about a Drew Tate injury rumor, Alex Kanellis' progression, true freshmen playing this year, and more in this edition of Kirk on the Side. Read all of the comments from Iowa's head man in this premium transcript.

Q: What goes through your mind as you lay out a schedule? Obviously it's a few years ahead, so you don't always know.

Kirk Ferentz: Game schedule, you mean?

Q: Yeah. Game schedules.

Ferentz: A variety of things. Syracuse for instance or Pittsburgh, I think it's good to play in areas where we recruit a little bit. Mark Abbott usually is the gentlemen I visit with an awful lot about that. If we can find opponents that might work where we recruit, that's a plus. I'm not a great fan of traveling west because of time zone differences and playing night games. It's ok when they come here, but it's not so great when you have to go out there, play a night game, and then get back here at 4 in the morning. That being said, we have a series coming up with Arizona. I understand we've got a lot of Iowans down there. Pittsburgh's game, for instance, not sure if our schedules have changed. When we set that one, I really thought we had a need to play an away game before the Big Ten. At that time it looked like we might have 5 straight home games, Northwestern being our opening game here. I thought it was good that we get out on the road, that type of thing. I'm not sure if that 12th game insertion has affected that. You have a variety of things you think about.

Q: Fans always kind of naturally want that Iowa/Nebraska or see you guys play Texas, something like that. What do you say to that question and what is kind of the grand design the coach has when they plan it? You don't want to get beat up either.

Ferentz: You know, quite frankly, I think we've got enough of that kind of excitement in our conference play, typically. We're not totally against it, but it's kind like calculus when putting these schedules together. You've got two consenting parties then all these other things have to fall into place. I think overall, our schedules have been pretty good. All in all, the way we've approached it's been pretty good, we're always going to play Iowa State, we typically play another BCS conference school, then we've got a relationship with the MAC. Up until now that's been about it, but now we've got another game to contend with.

Q: Is that something you talk with the AD about?

Ferentz: It is, yeah. Bob and I had discussions on that, not a lot of discussions. At some point, I'm sure Gary and I will too.

Q: Have you settled on a PR/KR guy yet?

Ferentz: We'll start the game on punt return with Andy Brodell. Then kick return will be Shonn Greene and Damian Sims.

Q: Another spot was taken off of the hill recently, for tailgaters. What's your thought on that?

Ferentz: It doesn't really (cross my mind.) It will in about 10 years or whatever when I'm doing it. (Laughs)

Q: As far as the fan relations, does it bother you at all?

Ferentz: I just haven't gotten involved. I'm having a hard time with job description right now. I'll go on record as saying I'm all for tailgating. I think it's a great American pastime and I can't wait to do it one of these days. I got to do it at the Shrine Bowl a few years ago, thought it was a lot of fun. I really wasn't even aware of it.

Q: If you had to describe Montana's defense, what do they do, what's the scheme?

Ferentz: If I was picking one team, they remind me, the way they line up and things, they look similar schematically to Purdue, without the emphasis on blitzing. Their general shell defense is probably similar to what Purdue does.

Q: How about their offense?

Ferentz: We're kind of throwing darts a bit there. They used a lot of two tight end packages a year ago because they had some senior TEs and now you look through their TE chart and they're very very young. We're probably guessing more 3-wides. We're kind of throwing darts. We think he'll be throwing darts, that's one thing that's safe to say.

Q: I think it was at LSU a couple years ago.

Ferentz: He's got some statistics. He can throw it around.

Q: He had 17 TDs.

Ferentz: Yeah, he can throw the ball. We've talked to enough people that said, "you'd better be ready to go." They've got good receivers, so I would think you'll see some 3 and 4 wide sets out there.

Q: When you're recruiting kids, how good of an idea do you get about who might be able to handle playing as a true freshman?

Ferentz: So much of it is just speculation. Like recruiting in general, there is so much projection. It's an interesting story. I don't know that you really see... You can speculate, you can guess a little bit, sometimes you're right, sometimes you're wrong. Really until the players get here and are forced to go through the volume of things they have to go through, you get a lot better indicator there. For whatever reason, we just haven't had an awful lot of guys come in and play an awful lot as true freshmen. It is hard, there's a lot to learn, there's a real tempo to what we're doing. Then the other good news is that we've got enough guys here that made it tough to crack into the lineup. Most players in recruiting think they can come in and do it. We always give them the opportunity. We're going to play the best guys. The sooner they go out and help us, that's our attitude. You want to be smart about it too. You want to be smart about it too, you don't want to put guys out there, burn a year, waste a year.

Q: Did you speculate on these 3?

Ferentz: Not extensively. We thought we were pretty well stocked at tight end, which allowed us to move AJ, actually. He's a very mature, focused guy. The interesting story on the whole thing is Dominique. Dominique wasn't a "national" recruit, but he's come in an handled things with ease. Not to say that he will on Saturday or the Saturdays thereafter, but he seems to be one of the guys that doesn't get real fazed by things, that's great to see.

Q: How dicey did it get with Anthony (Bowman) in the recruiting process?

Ferentz: It got a little interesting. We go through that a little bit. Sometimes we'll express interest and then other people get more interested. It got a little bit interesting. The key thing, and you wish this would happen in every situation, you've got a lot of stability at home. His dad was really a stabilizing factor, his HS coach. Probably as much of anything, his dad really helped keep him on track and keep his focus where it needed to be.

Q: Is it possible for AJ to go back to TE?

Ferentz: Yeah, I think it's possible. That's a discussion we have after the season. Right now, we've got he and Gavin McGrath working at #2 there behind Mike Humpal.

Q: Has there ever been a guy that's come through that you wish you would have kept the red shirt on?

Ferentz: (Pause) Dave Porter, that was before I got here, but I think they kind of wasted his year a little bit. I can't think of anybody.

Q: Every guy has made a contribution.

Ferentz: Yeah, I think so for the most part, so it's picking up pretty well. That's probably the one that's jumped out the most, I guess.

Q: What made Alex Kanellis the guy to move in when Iwebema went out?

Ferentz: He played behind Kenny last year. We had 4 guys that played there last year, Mike Follett was the only guy that graduated. He's the next guy on the depth chart, he's done very very well, and Alex played well last year. Each week he improved and had a very good spring. We felt that would be a natural progression.

Q: Is there any way he can hang on to that spot beyond this week?

Ferentz: It's up to him. It's up to Kenny and him. It'll be open for discussion next week. I think that the good new is that we have two pretty good players at that position. We feel like we have six guys, those two guys, the other 3, plus Ryan Bain, that we have comfort with. I got back to playing Wisconsin last year, in that 4th quarter and 3rd quarter, I look out on the field and you've got both Kanellis and Bain playing at a very critical time. We've gotten to that point where those 6 guys are all interchangeable.

Q: Alex made a pretty big jump this spring, didn't he?

Ferentz: He just keeps maturing, physically. All of them are getti9ng better that way, but he's done well. He's handled every step along the way pretty well.

Q: Do you have the #2 QB settled?

Ferentz: It's probably still situational. The good news is that both of them have looked pretty good. Drew missed a little time there and both guys practiced very well. Jason, amazingly well for the time he'd invested at receiver. I think we have an option there, which is nice. It's a good situation, probably a lot healthier than we've been.

Q: Will Jason see any time at WR on Saturday?

Ferentz: I would think so.

Q: You mentioned Drew had missed a little time. I'm going to use a Zookism here, a lot of noise in the system that he's hurt, is he OK?

Ferentz: I expect him to be out there today throwing the ball. I think he's fine, he's really practiced well. I'm excited for him.

Q: Is Marcus Wilson your other back up corner now?

Ferentz: Yeah, he'd be our 4th guy right now.

Q: Is that because you don't have much depth there, or do you think he's got more skills at corner than he does safety?

Ferentz: Yeah, we'd fooled around with that a little bit. Probably as much as anything he may be a bit better out there, and Harold Dalton has emerged a little bit too. He's had a decent spring and a good camp, we feel comfortable with him right now as our backup FS.

Hawkeye Insider Top Stories