Q: How much time do you put into what you put into what you wear on the sidelines? Much thought into it?
Kirk Ferentz: Not much. My only request, if I could, I'd get everything without stripes. That's not what's in right now.
Q: Coach Tressell's kind of known as a snazzy dresser.
Ferentz: Oh, yeah.
Q: Albert says he likes it because they way you dress is how everyone is the same.
Ferentz: I wear ties only when it's mandatory, like today. I Club functions, recruiting. That's just not..
Q: Not you?
Ferentz: I'm working, I want to be comfortable.
Q: Do you have to wear a tie to this?
Ferentz: I don't have to, but I'm traditional in some ways.
Q: We can't get you in a black and gold vest?
Ferentz: I think I'll just stick to what Nike gives me, whatever they put in my locker. I don't want to get fined.
Q: Drew made All Big Ten 2004. Since then, Stanton, Troy Smith, do you think he's been overlooked at all? I asked that and of course he shrugged it off.
Ferentz: I don't think so. Those guys have done very well, certainly. Part of it was our struggle in 2005. I don't think so, no. Last year, we just had so many good quarterbacks. Robinson was such a huge part of what they were offensively, I think Basanez, he played as well as anybody and did as much for his team as anybody. Then I'm overlooking Stanton who's been excellent the last two years, and this year too. It's tough. Then Troy Smith, he's just really emerged. Too many quarterbacks to go around for all the recognition that there is in the conference.
Q: Does it ultimately come down to wins and losses?
Ferentz: I think so. Brad Banks went from being an unknown in August to a runner up in the Heisman. There's no doubt us going 8-0 in the league that year had a lot to do with that. Obviously he had a lot to do with us going 8-0, it's just how it works.
Q: Why don't you hear more about Pittman?
Ferentz: They just have so many good players, I guess. There's only so many stories to be written, but he's an excellent football player.
Q: Does it seem like Drew's kind of built for a game like this, with his competitiveness, rising to the occasion kind of thing. Do you get that same sense?
Ferentz: I do. Drew's got a lot of great attributes, but he really thrives and enjoys challenges. The best players that we've had, that's how they've been. Brad Banks loved it, Bob Sanders, Dallas Clark, you go right down the list. Robert Gallery, Nate Kaeding, they relished, they lived for moments like that. The best players, that's how they think.
Q: What does that mean for a team, when the guy's in a spotlight like that, the QB, just takes it, shrugs, and says, "let's go"?
Ferentz: That's what good QBs do. We've talked about attributes of QBs, thrower, runner, all those things. They accept the responsibility that comes with that position. They think they can compete anywhere, anytime, with anybody. That's really how you want them thinking. You have to earn that to. It's one think just to be shooting form the hip, but you've got to earn that and he's done that.
Q: I know on Saturday, Shonn Greene missed a block on a blitz, Grigsby had a drop, Drew was the first guy op to them to hit them on the butt. That's kind of changed, I'd imagine.
Ferentz: Again, we've all encouraged him to use his energies in a more reinforcing way, in a positive way. That being said, there's times where guys need a verbal prodding. He'll do that too. I don't think it can be all one or the other, you've got to pick your spots. I think Drew's really grown in that regard.
Q: Does he have to outplay Smith for you guys to win this game?
Ferentz: I don't know. It's still more of a team thing. He's got to be able to pull the trigger when we need him to get it done. I don't think it's so much him vs Smith, it's just him playing his best game at this point.
Q: Who are the 5 players ABC talked to, Albert, Drew?
Ferentz: Probably those two guys, Chandler, I'm just guessing now. I think Klink and Marcus. I don't know. Might have been Humpal or Marcus.
Q: These guys are giving up more yards than they did a year ago, but not very many points. Are they playing any differently defensively?
Ferentz: The experience factor is not there. They did some stuff last year that was Calculus 3, schematically. I don't know that they're that deep into the playbook yet. They way they're playing right now, they may not have to turn to the next chapter. The chapter they're using right now is pretty good. That being said, they're still doing a lot of things that give you problems. They've got a very well thought out scheme.
Q: I think Speilman was saying yesterday that he thinks Jenkins may be better than any corner in the country.
Ferentz: We'll check that one on the list too. As I say, it's kind of the same thing when talking about the receivers in the 90s. One guy would leave, I get them mixed up, they had Joey Galloway, they had two others back there, they came out there. Boston. It's the same thing. These guys were pretty good DBs last year. That's where I thought we might get our relief, the poof. We also knew about these guys in recruiting, so we've seen them.
Q: Did you see them all in recruiting? He's a Jersey guys, I think.
Ferentz: We saw his number, yeah, his film and all that stuff. That's about all we saw.
Q: How are you feeling about replays?
Ferentz: Uhh, I'm a little puzzled by it. I already know the answer. The answer is going to be, "It wasn't conclusive evidence." That's going to be the answer.
Q: You kind of flipped on the issue.
Ferentz: My personal opinion is that that one should never have gone to replay. Coaches always see things differently than other people.
Q: Dace and Rafael aren't going to practice, that means Elgin slides over, probably Olsen at guard?
Ferentz: Aeschilman's in the mix, Meade's in the mix. Still have Doering, Calloway, and Keumpal. Then Narinksiy is still back at center. The way we finished the game the other day with Aeschilman and Meade, and we get mike back. Then, with a little luck, we may get one or two players back this week. (A) At what point are we going to get them back. and (B) If we're talking about guys that are veteran, it's a little easier to miss a day of practice. But when a first-year player misses a day of practice, it's concerning.
Q: Is Raf a knee sprain?
Ferentz: Yeah. If he doesn't make it this week, I think he'll make it next week.
Q: Where's Rob Bruggeman in coming back?
Ferentz: That's where this stuff starts coming up too. My guess is that it'll be a week to two weeks before getting back into practicing. But what's he missed, a month, two weeks. It's not like you're getting back and you're back, it's one of those deals, a little more involved.
Q: Is tackle open?
Ferentz: Yeah, or we move Olsen out there. We'll just have to move those blocks around, the shells around, whatever.
Q: Is this the last kind of tinkering you want to do with this game?
Ferentz: Yeah, it's not a perfect world, but we don't live in a perfect world. It's football. The good news is that somebody is going to step up. We've already had a lot of guys step in this year and do a nice job. They'll get that opportunity again.
Q: Does a guy have to practice on Thursday to play on Saturday?
Ferentz: I don't want to say 100%, but 95%. You'd like everybody to be back Wednesday. The more experience a player has. Then are we talking about the first time ever, that type of thing. As a general rule, if you're not back by Thursday, it's usually not a good sign.
Q: Sounds like they could still play.
Ferentz: It depends on the guy, maybe an emergency situation, something like that.
Q: Moving up to 2nd on the all-time wins list, did it kind of creep up on you?
Ferentz: I really hadn't given it any thought. Someone mentioned it after the game on Saturday. Hopefully that number will go up a bit here before the year's out. No guarantees.
Q: Did you have any communication with Coach Fry?
Ferentz: It's been a while. I know he'll be in town a week from now. That'll be good. I left him a voice mail, a couple, three weeks ago. I can't even remember why now. I forget why I called, just to call him I guess.
Q: Ball control's important 9in every game, but is it more important this game? DO you have a target?
Ferentz: If we could, it'd be great. It's going to be a challenge. They give ground pretty grudgingly. In a perfect world, we'd love to keep moving the chains, keep them off the field. At some point, we're going to need to score points.
Q: Do you get Brodell back?
Ferentz: I think the arrow's going up, there. We're hoping so. He was just still sore on Saturday. We pulled him back with hopes that those extra 4 days might really move him along. We're hoping that he'll be ready to go.
Q: Has Kanellis tried talking to you into letting him play this week?
Ferentz: Nah. He's been cleared medically. The amazing part was that I got on the bus Saturday, and he's sitting there in front seat. I was like, "Woah." That caught me off guard. I don't think they'd let him get on a plane. I figured a night in the hospital and them come back. No problems.
Q: Must not have had insurance. They kicked him out.
Ferentz: I guess. I was wondering if you could fly after surgery, but apparently you can.
Q: Have you been disappointed in the number of penalties?
Ferentz: Yes and no. The unforced penalties, illegal procedures, false starts, things of that nature. We've got to some pass interferences, we'd like that number to go down. Hopefully it will as the season goes on. Optimistic that it will, but you never know.
Q: At the end of the day, is the Big Ten still the Big 2, Little 9, or is it more open?
Ferentz: The last four years would suggest that at least we've been in the mix. We're dead even right now, record-wise. All 3 of us. It's only four years. I'm the author, I get to pick the span of the survey. One of our goals has been to compete with everybody in the conference. I think we've done a fair job of that. That being said, people start comparing back to the 60s, there's a wide gap between the Big 2 and everybody else. Penn State with an asterisk because they came in late. Both these schools had a 13-year head start on all of us.
Q: What kind of advantages do they have?
Ferentz: Ohio is one of the best High School football states in the country. I can't give you the numbers, but the quality of the football compares with any state. They are the Ohio State University. There are no other Division 1 schools in the state that they compete with. They've got a huge advantage there. I haven't studied their roster recently, but the percentage of Ohio players that they start with in their recruiting base gives them a huge advantage. I'm not saying it's Texas, but it's like Texas, there's some parallels, there's some differences too. That's a heck of a starting point. All that being said, they've got very good talent, but they're very well coaches. Very consistent.
Q: Last year Troy Smith ran the speed option, they got him against Abdul.
Ferentz: It's a concern. Oh yeah it's a concern. He beats you three ways, with his feet, they're extremely good. He beats you with his arm, he's a good passer now. I wouldn't say he was two years ago at this time. The third part is his head. He doesn't do dumb things out there. That's experience.
Q: Does he carry himself different than the kid you saw two years ago?
Ferentz: Oh yeah. It's a guy who's never played vs. a guy who's been thought it all and done a good job. A Kodak moment, coming in after our Minnesota game last year, I watched the down the stretch drive they had against Michigan. To me, that was all Troy Smith. I was watching for obvious reasons, affecting our status. He just took that team down the field. That was very impressive.
Q: Do you guys get to watch that develop? Maybe in the next few years you'll be saying the same thing about Juice Williams?
Ferentz: It's very possible, very likely.
Q: Can you think of a game where the home crowd put you over the top, gave you a little bit?
Ferentz: You could argue any close game we've had in Kinnick, they've been a factor. We get a lot of juice from the crowd. There's no denying that. I think we can help ourselves by playing well. If we play well, that really adds to the environment. It's not their job to pick us up. We look at it that way. I think any close game it's been a factor.
Q: I think Vegas says home field is worth 3 points. Is that underestimating somewhere like Kinnick?
Ferentz: I think so. Just like Ohio State, it's one of the tougher places to play in our conference. We've got to be in the top 3 or 4 as far as great home field environments, I would think, in the conference. If not higher than 3 or 4.
Q: Do you bring in any honorary captains, motivational guys for a big game like this?
Ferentz: We do an honorary captain every week, we'll stay with that plan. It's always a good message, it always comes from the heart. I'm not big on going out of the routine, we'll try and stick with what has worked with us in the past. An honorary captain is part of any home game, certainly.
Q: Who is that this week?
Ferentz: I'll wait till Thursday, I usually wait on that one.
Q: Do you think you've ever been asked, "Is this guy the fastest, is this guy the best, is this guy the biggest" like you were 5 or 10 minutes ago?
Ferentz: Probably. I can't remember when. It's hard to find anybody faster than Ted Ginn, that's for sure.
Q: Then their tackle.
Ferentz: He's a giant.
Q: Ginn looked like a red laser beam that got called back last year.
Ferentz: Thanks for bringing that up. Have you got any more good news for me?