Syracuse Week: Kirk on the Side

Kirk Ferentz spoke with the media following Tuesday's press conference. Read what the Captain had to say regarding playing in a dome, Dace Richardson, Anthony Bowman, AJ Edds, Austin Signor, Kyle Schlicher, recruiting against Syracuse, and much, much more in this premium transcript.

Q: Have you had that rule (where true freshmen don't speak much to the media) since you've always been here?

Kirk Ferentz: I think we've gone both ways. I think it's probably the best for everybody right now.

Q: How many guys on their roster did you guys try and get here?

Ferentz: I didn't recognize a whole lot of names. Just trying to think, the guy, James Wyche, who is eh with, somebody drafted him, or he got cut, I just saw him name in the transactions. He was a guy we tried to recruiting. We had a courtship going with him, ended up losing to Syracuse. He's from Long Island. Outside of that, I can't remember many at all.

Q: There another guy too. Mal...

Ferentz: Maljovec. Yeah. He's another guy. There aren't a lot, though.

Q: You got Ed over them, didn't you?

Ferentz: Yeah. There are guys going back, Hinkel, it was us and Syracuse there, even though some other people jumped in late.

Q: Do you remember anything about that recruitment?

Ferentz: No, other than I was worried about it. I was worried about Syracuse cause it was close to home. As you know, the family had to trek out here. I was worried about that, a good problem, they had great stability at that time. It was McPherson to Paul Pasqualoni, they really had it going pretty well. I thought that'd be a tough one for us.

Q: Is that part of the deal with this trip? This series?

Ferentz: Yeah, it's part of the idea. We recruit in the Big East territory, so it makes some sense.

Q: Your travel roster is kind of limited, do you think about taking Austin with you this weekend, with Kyle coming off an injury?

Ferentz: We probably will, anyway. There's probably a fair chance we'll use Austin to kick off even if Kyle is fully healthy. If he's tweakish at all, we won't want him to kick off. Austin's got a very strong leg, and I could see us possibly using him as our kickoff guy the entire season. He's on the travel roster, regardless, whether Kyle's in or out.

Q: The tee didn't make much difference, did it?

Ferentz: Nah. He's got a strong leg. That's one thing we had figured out.

Q: Take me through the history, a little bit, about how he ends up with your program?

Ferentz: Reese does a great job in-state, then Lester's really good, and Darrell Wilson are really good with specialists. We have a special teams camp. We try to be as thorough as we can. We went out and scholarshipped a punter last year, although we'd seen him in camp too, in a perfect world you'd like to (A) see the person perform in person, and (B) it's even better when you've got guys on campus that are doing it in the wings. We're not done yet, but at least right now, I think there's good reason to think we won't have to go looking to get a kicker next year. That was kind of our hope with Ryan, we'd hope Ryan would come in and show us enough in practice to where we could feel good in December that we've got one on campus, as Andy graduates.

Q: With all the national coverage of recruiting, are freshmen different now than they were when you first started?

Ferentz: Maybe a little bit. It probably affects parents. Sometimes. Some players get a little carried away. It's just more exposure, that's all. It's more exposure. I think the reality is that once they come to camp or the first pre-season, they realize it's not as easy as it appears to jump in there and go, especially at certain positions. It's not uncommon for recruited players to think, "Yeah, I'm going to go in there." and some do. It's not easy for anyone.

Q: Do you notice kids transferring more today?

Ferentz: I don't think overly. I think basketball is a different story. Football though, you see a lot of QBs jumping around. To me, they've got a bit more of a point guard mentality or something, there's only 1 guy that can play QB. It makes it a bit tougher. That's part of the Jason Manson story, that to me, makes it so.... When Drew came on the scene, he had that dramatic beginning. I never asked Jason if he had thoughts about it. I'm sure he might have. Jason wants to play. "Geez, maybe I go to a 1-AA school and play today, or transfer somewhere, sit, and play." You read a lot about that at that position because only 1 guy can start. He never flinched. The thing that impressed me so much about Jason was just the way he helped coach Drew. He was another guy on the field. Jason had that benefit of (a) being here, and (b) he had a great knowledge of what we were doing. He was immensely helpful with the guy competing for his job. That tells you a lot about a person. I can't say enough about the respect all of us have for Jason. His teammates feel the same way. He's a stellar person.

Q: What did you think of the rule passed in April that allows a guy who gets his degree to go ahead and transfer?

Ferentz: I have mixed emotions there. My first thought was that it wasn't going to affect many people, but in a situation like this. yeah, Florida got that guy. I don't know if that's fair for a guy to be able to go with a coach. It seems like coaches have a good deal. They can do things and leave. You know what I mean? Schools get sanctioned, and coaches move on to different jobs. This is one more thing that can happen when a coach leaves. I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Q: Football's the sport it's going to hit the most.

Ferentz: Yeah, it is. If a QB is bottled up in his fifth year. But again, I go back to Jason. You've got to respect a guy like Jason. Had he left to go to a 1-AA school to play right now, I'd have totally understood that. It just says a lot about a guy, he's here for the whole thing. Football's a big part of it, but I think he really likes his life here. I've got mixed emotions on that rule. I don't think it would be much a factor, but I could see where it could be.

Q: What is it with Drew and injury rumors? A couple years ago he broke his leg. I think we all got calls Friday that he tore his rotator cuff?

Ferentz: Yeah, Sunday Rita told me that Dick Olin had gotten that call. I said, "Geez, I just saw him, I don't know." It's like the Beatles thing. If you play it backwards and stuff.

Q: "Paul is dead."

Ferentz: Yeah, maybe a little residue leaking out from that.

Q: Is it just being a QB?

Ferentz: I think so, yeah. I think if he was the left guard, probably nobody would really care.

Q: What about as far as his own teammates contributing to that a few years ago? (Laughs) Have you made a rule now not to do that?

Ferentz: (Laughs) I've encouraged our guys not to talk about injuries. I'll be the voice on that one.

Q: On Thursday, before you guys take off, what do you tell your players? Do you have to be Dad to 100 kids and say, "Don't forget your toothbrush"?

Ferentz: Yeah. Again, we do the same thing. It's a little easier if we're in Cedar Rapids if they forget something. There's a checklist they do, both for their gear for the stadium and also for the hotel. If they don't have their toothbrush, I guess that's their roommate's problem, not mine. As far as dress, we go in sweats. I had to get used to that 8 years ago, but it's probably the smartest thing to do. Not everybody has a coat and tie in this day in age. We try to keep it as simple and painless for these guys, just so they can focus on what we're going there for.

Q: Sometimes the equipment personnel are the forgotten soldiers there.

Ferentz: Yeah. It's a complex operation to move. Going to a bowl game is really a logistical nightmare for a lot of people. Greg and Bill Dervich, all those guys do a great job of making it painless. All the players really have to do is pack their bags and show up. It's pretty easy for them, pretty easy for the coaches, too.

Q: How much do you deal with it during the week, just to make sure they've got everything?

Ferentz: It's kind of like our staff. Everybody's been here, they know their jobs a lot better than I would ever pretend to. I don't say anything to anyone. If they have something I need to relay or know of, they'll let me know. Otherwise, things just runs smoothly and I show up at whatever time I'm supposed to be here. The players have to do the same thing.

Q: For making his first start, Dace Richardson didn't seem to stand out one way or the other.

Ferentz: That's good. Any time linemen don't stand out, it's really good. Kind of like deep snappers. Again, he's played a little bit, but this is the first time he's went the entire game. He got 60+ snaps, I guess high 50s it would have been for him. He did a nice job. It's a heck of a starting point for all of us.

Q: Do you feel ahead of where you were at this time last year, offensive line wise?

Ferentz: It's hard to say. The first game last year ended up not really helping us a lot last year. Whereas the score the other day was totally misleading. I really, I was so impressed with Montana. I don't want to sound like I'm in the Montana fan club, but I am, kind of. I think they've got a neat situation out there. It was neat to talk to their coach. It's like a mini-Iowa out there. People drive 600 miles to come to a game, 18,000 season tickets out of 23,000, it's phenomenal. That team, I thought they were a tough group, a great plan. I was really impressed with the toughness of their team. Glad we didn't play them when I was at Maine. That would have been a slaughter.

Q: How much have you found that playing in an area where you don't play normally helps in recruiting?

Ferentz: It's pretty subjective. I know it doesn't hurt. To, me, at least, if you're going to go somewhere, I'd rather (A) go close or (B) go where you're going to be spending time. The last thing on the list, trips to Arizona are OK, because we have so many Iowans down there. There needs to be some kind of reason. Missouri was suggesting Oregon State or Washington State as a comparable replacement when we were trying to get worked out a couple years ago. With all due respect to those states and those people, the last thing we want to do is go out to the far west for what? Other than playing a football game, what good is it going to do us? Hopefully we get a little rationale for making a trip somewhere. This one certainly fits.

Q: Do you tell the guys anything about the dome?

Ferentz: I hadn't thought that far ahead. I probably will say something down the road. It's like anything on the road, it's just a bit more intense. You've got to concentrate.

Q: How does the Humphrey Dome compare to that? Are all domes alike?

Ferentz: Yeah, they're all loud and noisy when you get in them. Or have the potential to be loud and noisy. It was so long ago when it was in there.

Q: What's up with the no air conditioning?

Ferentz: That was a surprise. Especially with the name Carrier on the outside. That surprised me a little bit.

Q: How'd you hear about that?

Ferentz: I just found out this summer. I didn't know that until this summer. We've got a couple guys, Lester worked there, Chris worked there. I didn't find out until this summer, incidentally. Outside of the hydration, I don't know what else we can do.

Q: When you're game planning with your RBs, are there plays that you know, "This is a Damian Sims play, this is a Shonn Greene Play" or is it just when Albert needs a blow and needs to come out for a few plays?

Ferentz: Not really. They have different strengths, obviously, but they're all very capable in the backfield. What we'll do when they're outside of the formation, that's a bit different. You can't practice everybody doing everything, so yeah. We practice packages, we practice things.

Q: Is it a concern how many carries each guy gets, or is that something you don't concern yourself with?

Ferentz: Nah. We worry about trying to win the game. We like to think that if Albert's got to carry it 35 times, he's going to be up for the task, that's what running backs want to do. I can't remember anybody ever complaining, "Hey, I got it too much." Usually it can go the other way around. I don't worry too much about those complaints, we're trying to move the ball.

Q: How do you feel about your other two freshmen on Saturday?

Ferentz: AJ didn't get as much exposure, but he seemed comfortable out there. I know he was nervous during the week. I thought Anthony did a good job. He made a good decision on that little screen pass to Damian. I thought, "Oh, we've got a flag coming here." but he pulled off. He was thinking football, you like see that.

Q: Are you still looking at just those three?

Ferentz: At this stage. Hopefully, knock on wood, we stay healthy and don't have to think about anything else. We've got a couple guys that are getting some work with the 2s, but we're not planning on getting them involved


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