Kirk Ferentz: I can't remember what the injury was, but someone got hurt in camp. We were getting thin. It seems like we do every year. That was 2004. For whatever reason, we asked him to move to tight end. We asked him to make the move. I really thought my Kodak moment for him that year was the week of the Wisconsin game. He got whacked the week before against Minnesota. Talking about injuries, it didn't look good during the week of the Wisconsin game. He is a second year guy, first year at tight end. Mentally, I had him off the list. I didn't think he would be effective on Saturday. He made it to the field and did not get involved in contact. To his credit, we were in a big ball game, he got nailed a few times in that game and bounced up and kept competing. I thought that was a turning point for him from my vantage point. At that point, I thought we had a chance to have a pretty good football player, and he has worked extremely hard to not just be a big receiver playing tight end, he has worked hard to become a good tight end.
Q: He admitted in the past that his blocking was not there early in his career.
Ferentz: That is always the hardest part. Dallas Clark went through the same thing, being a skilled guy. But both of those guys made the move and did a great job. I am not comparing him to Dallas, but they had similar circumstances.
Q: He seems very detailed, too. The routes he runs, he catches a lot of third down balls.
Ferentz: He understands how to set things up and be patient and do some things that younger players might hurry or neglect. That is the benefit of experience and he has a little knowledge about what receivers are supposed to do, too.
Q: If I remember right, Blythe and Chandler might have been in the same ball park to get a ride?
Ferentz: I think we would have been happy to take both. We just couldn't get Todd to see it that way. He is a tremendous young man. We were so impressed with he and his family during the recruiting process. It just didn't work out.
Q: How many reps was Jason able to get going into last week?
Ferentz: Drew didn't practice much. We yanked him out during Wednesday. He just didn't look very good. It was clear that we were wasting our time.
Q: How long does it take for Jason to get in a comfort zone?
Ferentz: He has been working. Once school started, we started amping up his time at quarterback. He got work. We wanted to make sure; I think I made the comment a while back that he looked remarkably good for spending all that time at receiver. But I think that is the benefit of being a four year guy going into his fifth year. All that being said, you still have to practice and he got in a lot of work last week. He will be ready.
Q: How is Jake Christensen taking all of this? His name comes up.
Ferentz: Maybe I am not the best guy at surveying how everyone's feelings are. There are some decisions that I have to make and I hope that everyone has trust and faith that I don't do things on impulse. But I don't have time to counsel everyone, either. Jake is a good team guy. He has practiced well. He is going to get his chance. Sooner or later, he will. I am really confident that if he would have played he would have done well, too. I just thought Jason was better equipped for that situation and we will reevaluate everything this week, too. He is right there in the thick of it, he is doing very, very well. Hopefully he is not down, he shouldn't be. We are not.
Q: What have you learned about your two corners, both first year starters, both have had ups and downs in their first two weeks.
Ferentz: Yeah. The guy made a fantastic play the other day in the end zone. That was hardly a routine play or catch. Sometimes those things will happen. A play like that is tough to defend if you can execute it. I think overall they have done well. They are hardly seasoned yet, they are hardly experienced in games like this and games like this can help you. I hope we can survive it. It's a tough position to play. It's like having a young left tackle; that is a tough position to play. Every snap is valuable.
Q: What are the differences between Gabelmann and Klinkenborg?
Ferentz: Zach flat out straight line speed is about as good as any of our linebackers. He is not quite as big physically. He is a good football player. That battle went on for quite a while and we think he is a real good football player. If he is called on to play, he will do a great job. We have total confidence in him and we feel the same way about Gattas behind Miles and Humpal. We have great faith in them, and Pat Angerer is not too far behind. If Mike can't go, Pat will get more work, too.
Q: How far along did you get with Bret Meyer in the recruiting process?
Ferentz: I can't really recall. I really don't know. The thing I remember about that year is that Chris Leak contacted us in October and I can't remember when RC Slocum got let go, but my recollection of the recruiting theory that year, is things heated up in November. It came down to those two guys, that was our plan at least to get one of those two and it worked out. It worked out for both schools.
Q: Has he (Meyer) exceeded what you thought he might do?
Ferentz: The only thing I can say is that he is playing extremely well. If there is a better quarterback in the Big 12, I don't know who it would be. We think Drew is pretty good, too. There are some good ones in our league, but Bret would be right there will all the guys in our conference. I have seen our guys, I don't know what they have in the Big 12, but you can throw him in the category with the guys we face and don't face, in Stanton, who is a hell of a player. From what I have seen, he is right there with all of those guys. Quarterbacks are interesting because you never know how that road is going to go. He has done a fantastic job. He is really playing well.
Q: What happened with the Blythe recruitment?
Ferentz: We made an effort and gave it the old college try if you will and came up short. He had a comfort level with their program and the people there. You can only go one place. We had tremendous respect for him during the process just like we did with Bret, but it didn't work out.
Q: The September loss has been a motivational tool for this team. You came close to losing on Saturday; can you still get the same lessons from a close win?
Ferentz: It would be great if we do. The lesson is that we still have a lot of things to work on and get better at. The positive was that we were able to survive. Usually you don't survive a game where you turn it over four times, that is tough to do. We feel very fortunate in that regard. If you are not growing, no matter what the circumstances, you are not doing things the right way. Hopefully we will improve a little bit.
Q: Drew looked good against Montana. Was there a red flag that came up with him?
Ferentz: Not really. It was the way he felt the next day. That happens so often. Guys leave the locker room feeling pretty good and then they wake up during the night or the morning and realize they have a problem.
Q: Did he come to you?
Ferentz: They come in medically right away, the first stop. Any new injuries, that is first on the docket. It happens during the week, but its not unusual to get a surprise or two out of a game.
Q: He has been dealing with this since August?
Ferentz: Yeah, it's come and gone. It's not to the point where he couldn't play. He threw on Wednesday, but it wasn't going to beat Syracuse.
Q: Is Busch still limited?
Ferentz: I think compared to last week he is a lot better. We are optimistic he will be fine. He was feeling better as the game went on, so hopefully, I think that is going the right direction. Most are going the right way now; I hope it continues that way.
Q: Dominique Douglass, talk about him and his hand.
Ferentz: We didn't talk about him today in our medical meeting. He didn't look good Thursday, he played a little. He had that laceration and he didn't look good catching the football on Thursday. That was a little scary. He did OK out there. Hopefully he is full speed now. I think that he is.
Q: What were the areas that Jason struggled with at Syracuse?
Ferentz: It was not just one thing. Part of it was the dome, part of it was the dome. They did a good job. They made the right adjustments based on our circumstances, which we are used to that. It seems like we are a magnet for different looks. The first one out of the box is a tipped pass. The other one was just a group effort of miscommunication, bad decision on the deep ball, too late on that one. The other one, just throw it out of bounds and that is a mistake that I don't think he will make again.
Q: What does the overtime play say about Jason Manson? He made a similar throw to Andy Brodell that he got picked off earlier in the game.
Ferentz: That is what I was saying earlier. We had more than our share of turbulence, but when we got into the overtime, we settled down and did some good things. Overtime brought the best out of us. You hate that it was a dumb play, the one. Just throw it out of bounds, there is no sin in punting the football. Sometimes you learn lessons the hard way, and at least that didn't show up again. I would be very surprised to see him make a throw like that again. That is a young guy move and it won't happen again. It was more inexperience than it was young. Just one of those deals.
Q: The ISU Defense seems to come up with something every year in this game, whether it be a different front or blitz package. Do certain defensive coordinators have a knack?
Ferentz: Just an overview, I think they have changed like a lot of teams change through the years, their approach. John Skladaney is a veteran coach, an excellent coach. They have really done a good job, I think, of the turnover thing I mentioned. They did a great job in there. By pressuring you, and having some disruptive players, and some disruptive schemes. They have done a great job. I am not saying they are the Steelers, but that is what they thrive on; making you make bad decisions or dumb plays or forcing the turnovers, sometimes through good hitting or whatever it may be. If you can get that ratio amped up a little bit in your direction, it helps your chances of winning and they have done a masterful job of that. It's the sign of real good coaching. There is a reason the Steelers have won as many years as they have. It's tough preparation.
Q: Who is your #3 Middle Linebacker?
Ferentz: That is a good question. I don't know. That is a good question. I am just joking. Right now it's Pat Angerer. I do know. I am supposed to know that.