Purdue Week: Kirk on the Side Transcript

Kirk Ferentz spoke with the media on Tuesday following his regular press conference. Read what he had to say about injuries, nickel/dime defense, Drew Tate's toughness, and more in this premium transcript.

Q: Do you guys have a nickel or dime package, right now?

Kirk Ferentz: I'm not sure. I'm laughing right now, but it's really not funny. We've got one on paper, but paper is thin, right? We carry one into every game. It's never really, in all honesty, it's not prominent in our thoughts. With our injury situation, we're just hoping we can survive in our regular defense.

Q: This is no knock against you guys

Ferentz: I take no offense to this, these are good questions.

Q: When Klink is lined up against Dorien Bryant

Ferentz: Unless you take Klink off the field, there are ways to match players against players. That's what good offensive teams do. The flip side is that if you take certain people off the field you open the gates for the run game. It's a bit of a choose your poison.

Q: You guys have been through this before. Norm's been preaching the 1-dimensional thing for a long time and it's worked.

Ferentz: I'm a big picture guy, you know how that is. If there's a trend that's alarming, then we'll look at it. Every defense, every coverage has something like that. We missed a few tackles on that too, it wasn't just mike getting beat, we missed a few. They're going to catch the balls, the idea is just to get a guy pinn3ed in, don't give him the whole field to run, it's what it comes down to. When you give up the big play, 1 guy on 1 guy, it's rare when a middle linebacker gets beat and gives up a TD, it's rare, unless you've got them in some weird blitz coverage. It's a lot bigger than one match up. We'll give the match up and have a 10 yard completion, but it's what happens on the other stuff that concerns you.

Q: They did bring up they need to tackle

Ferentz: It's a team thing all the way. You guys got a vote on All Big Ten stuff, right? This guy, are you kidding me? I said the same thing last year. That guy knocked my socks off on the field. He blocks like a tight end, he's got excellent receiving skills, a great runner, a tenacious competitor.

Q: The stop he made on the cutback.

Ferentz: I'd heard of the possession stuff, don't' underestimate his speed. Wait till you see his combine numbers. Someone said to me, "You can choose between Braylon Edwards, Lee Evans, Ted Ginn and Gonzalez." First of all, I wish someone would give me the option. We've had some good guys in our conference, and I think he belongs in that class, in my opinion.

Q: Do you think we take coach's health for granted? This year in the Big Ten it's become a bit of an issue.

Ferentz: It's not funny. I wasn't laughing at that, I was laughing and us and our habits.

Q: Your lifestyle has to be a doctor's lifestyle.

Ferentz: I was just thinking in there that I'd shoveled a bit too much ice cream the last two days. Unless you're really disciplined, I know I'm not, some guys are better. I think we all have our habits. I'm a lot better in the off season. During football and during recruiting, it's almost impossible. I guess you could do it, but I don't have the discipline required. I know there are people who do do it. That gets me more than the mental part. I do better now than I did 20 years ago.

Q: The mental part?

Ferentz: Yeah, stress, all that crap. I don't know how good I do there. It's a concern, yeah. We work unusual hours, there's always something more important than your health, coaches always shave that mentality, in season. It's a problem. I remember reading about Dan Reeves when he talked about snickers bars and all that stuff. You allow yourself to have some treats as you're grinding it a little bit. Usually those aren't apples or oranges.

Q: Who keeps you in check, Mary? Does anybody?

Ferentz: I get an annual physical.. The numbers have been checking out pretty good lately, at least. You just got to do what you've got to do. I sneak a run in on Friday, a shuffle. If it's a good week, I'll get it on Thursday. I'm just trying to make a certain time. Not trying to break any records, but there is a certain time.

Q: I asked Drew if it hurts when he sneezes, and he got a bit shocked by that question, gave me the general answer. It's somewhere between hurts to throw and hurts to sneeze. It's a wide range. We got into how much he's been able to practice, it sounds like it's been very minimal.

Ferentz: It's minimal. It show sup on the field, you'd expect it to. In my whole career, I've been around very few players that could miss a whole week of practice and play well. That was our decision at Syracuse, I think that could have made it worse. Not only his injury, but the situation harder. Things tend to show up. To me, that's good news. I know he's not playing as sharp as he can. He hasn't played bad, but I know he can be sharper, and he will be sharper. We're gaining momentum right now, and I'm really optimistic about where this thing is heading. For him, it'll be good. For everybody, it'll be good. The continuity, I made reference to the snap. To have a snap problem in game 4, that's ac concern. It's little things like that that we all take for granted. It's part of practice, repetition. If you don't have guys working together, there will be problems with continuity.

Q: There's no measurable end to this.

Ferentz: It's a gray area injury. We're talking about a guy who can deal with pain pretty well. We're talking, Kanellis is out there playing a week after an appendectomy, Drew's in that same category. Bob Sanders looked like he got hit by a train, down for the count, then three plays later he's back in there. Some guys are just real hard-minded like that, they can do that. Drew's certainly in that class. I know how badly he wants to practice, how badly he wants to play and play well. He's a guy with a lot of pride.

Q: When was the last time he had a full week of practice?

Ferentz: I couldn't tell ya. I've mental blocked it all out. He had a decent week for Iowa State, but Tuesday was very very limited. He went OK Wednesday and Thursday. It's been an up and down, see-saw battle. It affects things.

Q: Timing with receivers?

Ferentz: Everybody. It's not like your right guard missed a day, one of those deals. That's not good either, but it doesn't get back to you as much as a QB.

Q: You go down the line of scrimmage, your whole line, somebody here, somebody there.

Ferentz: We've had our share. We've had some good things too. I thought Dace competed and grew during the course of the game. He was a guy fighting through an injury.

Q: He was a leg, too, right?

Ferentz: Yeah. Andy Brodell hasn't been totally healthy, I think we're gaining ground there. He really played well the other night. I think we're gaining ground on most of these injuries.

Q: 2002, one player missed a start.

Ferentz: I think DJ Johnson was the only guy. It helps, especially at Iowa.

Q: I think Fred missed some time.

Ferentz: I think that was the next year. Well… The Michigan game. He came out in the second half of the Michigan game. Then Jermelle jumped in there and half 100 and some yards. That helped.

Q: Drew, having something like this in your senior year, it's got to cut right to the heart of the individual.

Ferentz: It's hard. Life's not always fair, that's certainly true of injuries. It's not the year you'd write for a guy his senior year. The good news, I think, is that it's going the right direction. That was my biggest concern coming off the field on Tuesday, where is this thing heading. Particularly you feel bad for any player, but especially in his senior year. What's this going to mean in terms of the big picture.

Q: What goes into the decisions about keeping him on the field, maybe against Illinois in the second half?

Ferentz: When he goes, he goes. Unless something happens, I'm not sure you gain a lot. My understanding, it's not an injury that if a guy hits you, it makes it worse. It's movement, more of a comfort level type thing. The good news is that right now, his feeling Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday morning, even Saturday during the game, much better than any thus far, that block of time we've had this year. I felt better when I found out there was another guy out there with the same thing that's ahead of the curve on him. That was my question, is it going to be like this all year?

Q: How much research did you put into this to find somebody else?

Ferentz: I didn't do anything. I didn't make a phone call. Our medical folks did some calling around. We were able to find a guy, in confidence they shared what was going on with him. I was really glad to hear that. You always like to know. I haven't been down this road before. It's nice to know at least that there's a good chance this thing is going to resolve itself.

Q: It's another football player someplace else.

Ferentz: Yep, a quarterback Going through the same exact thing. He plays at a higher level, he started earlier than us. It's a name you'd recognize. It's funny. I was on one of those New York shows, Mike and Mad Dog, I mentioned it on the thing. After I get done, the producer said, "Off the record, can you tell us who that is?" If I was thinking, I would have said Pennington or Manning, just to get it all stirred up. I'm not that smart, not that smart. God, I blew it. Off the record. Yeah, OK. My good friends in New York. Willy off the pickle boat back in Iowa. I love it. I told them, "Hey, I'd get shot if I told you."

Q: It's a hard thing to sell to your team, but in a lot of ways, is this week bigger than last week for your team?

Ferentz: If we had won the game, it would have been bigger too. It's an opportunity. We're either going to be 2-1 or 1-2 in the conference. Every game is really important. That's something we always try to put in front of our guys. I really don't care about any of them after this one right now. Same way next week. All you can deal with is what's in front of you. Hate to squander opportunities.

Q: Kind of an identity game for both of you guys. They're coming off the loss against Notre Dame.

Ferentz: Their first loss.

Q: Your only loss has been to the #1 team in the nation. You don't really know where you peg in.

Ferentz: It's way too early to say OK, we're a contender or a pretender, all that stuff. It'll be too early after the game on Saturday. One team is going to move forward, one will go backwards. That's all we need to worry about.

Q: How much do you learn about a team the week after their first loss?

Ferentz: You find out a lot in practice. It starts on Sunday. You gauge the reaction on Sunday. What's important is what they do this week. Sunday had nothing to do with us really moving forward, so what we do on the practice field this week is going to tell a lot. What do we do in terms of watching tape, doing the kinds of things you have to do to get ready for a ball game. We'll all find out on Saturday when we hit the field. How we prepare will have a lot to do with determining the outcome.

Q: You can't talk specifics about recruiting, but Saturday's environment, what kind of impact did that have?

Ferentz: I can't think it was anything but positive. Just like it was a thrill for us to be out there as players and coaches, I can't imagine any recruit being involved in anything much better than that. That was fantastic. Wow. It's fun to be involved in. It's no fun getting beat, we all feel the same there, but it's fun to be involved in something that neat. It was great. Money can't buy that. Those are things money can't buy, that was a lot of fun.

Q: Even at home, prospects watching at home.

Ferentz: I've heard. I haven't talked to any prospects, but I've heard from several people that watched it on TV, they got a sense of how good it was. It was a great day, all the gold, I don't know who's idea that was, but it was pretty good. Hope they keep coming up with stuff.

Q: You kids are 0-2 in those color games.

Ferentz: Yeah, I hadn't thought of that one. Ok. That's a dumb idea, whose idea was that anyway, that gold? (Laughs) I wish it was that easy.

Q: Northern Illinois, that's the black out.

Ferentz: I hope it's not a black out, yeah. (Laughs) My wife has pointed out to me that it doesn't really have anything to do with what tie I wear to the game, any of that stuff. That's one good thing about going 1-10, you eliminate all those superstitions. Doesn't matter what color shirt you wore, what color tie you wore.

Q: There were so many fans around that statue when you go there.

Ferentz: It wasn't the same as, but kind of like when we pulled into the Orange Bowl. That was kind of the sensation. That was a Kodak moment too, that was awesome. There was a buzz getting off the bus, and it didn't stop. You're lucky to be involved in something like that.

Q: Did recruits get to do that too?

Ferentz: We had three guys on official visits, that were part of that. Certainly the guys that were here unofficially had to go through the parking lots, my guess is that there was probably a lot of fun outside the building as well as inside.


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