UM Week: Kirk on the Side Transcript

Kirk Ferentz spoke with the media on Tuesday following his weekly press conference. Read what Kirk had to say about recovering from Illinois, the attitude of the team on Sunday, specific injury updates, Damian Sims' place on the depth chart, a new "cover jinx" and much more in this over 3,000-word premium transcript!

Kirk Ferentz: The kickoff coverage, I guess, could have been ok.

Q: You're saying that no defense, nothing worked Saturday.

Ferentz: We just didn't get the job done. We got beat in zone coverage, man coverage, it wasn't like it was just one particular call or technique, we just didn't get it done. We let them run when they had to run. I don't say that in a way to take away from them, they did a heck of a job, performed very well, almost flawlessly. If we're not performing the way we need to be, then that's a bad combination. Basically, they were playing well and we weren't. That's a dangerous mix.

Q: How has your run defense compared to what you thought you'd have this year.

Ferentz: At times, it's been very good. We haven't done anything consistently enough. It's interesting, we're having this conversation, we're 5-2. That dawned on me sometime over the weekend. We're 5-2 and it feels like the roof fell in. That's what happens when you don't play as well as you're supposed to play. I say supposed to play, based on our expectations. We've done a lot of good things this year, at times. We just don't have the consistency level right now to be a solid team, a team that's playing well.

Q: This is out of left field, did you hear about the stalking incident with Coach Carr?

Ferentz: Yeah, I did.

Q: They arrested a guy. Anything like that?

Ferentz: Nothing near as exciting. Nah.

Q: Is that something you almost have to mindful of, in the sense that the information age…

Ferentz: Yeah. This day and age you can't really just dismiss things like maybe you would 20 years ago. That's unfortunate, too. It's real unfortunate. Speaking of unfortunate things, right? Two of them right there.

Q: Is it to the point where Damian's fumbles affect his spot on the depth chart?

Ferentz: No, not really. I don't think things have changed dramatically in my mind. If Albert's totally healthy, then he's our #1 guy. Damian and Shonn are 2 and 3. They compliment each other, and in a perfect world, we'd love to have all 3 available and ready to go. That's what I'm hoping happens.

Q: (A question on whether it's a big concern)

Ferentz: I don't think we're at that point. No. To me, it's a lack of experience. You have to give their guy credit, too. It was one of those types of plays where you see a ball coming out, but all that being said, most important thing a RB has to do is protect the football. It starts there. He's not the lone ranger here. We all have to improve, we all have to make strides. It's going to happen.

Q: How do teams find an identity?

Ferentz: Just keep working, you just keep working, keep playing. We've got 5 left, I don't know of any other way.

Q: Do you feel like two years ago the team found that identity, everyone talks about the helmetless Drew pass, maybe rallied around that.

Ferentz: That was one play. It was a Kodak moment, certainly. There are a lot of things that have to happen, I think. It's a long process. It never ends. It really never ends. We certainly moved along. We've been through our share of ups and downs this year as well. We've shown some good things, and we'll get back on our feet. Until the last game's over, you're always either formulating it, building on it, or taking away from it. You want to avoid taking away from it. That's the hard part about last Saturday. We had been moving forward, then boom, we took a major step backwards.

Q: Does this compare to any other year? You've built momentum, looked to be going good..

Ferentz: I'm sure we have. We escaped against Purdue in 2002, we had a couple escapes. I'm not comparing us to them. Those two games were Purdue and Indiana.

Q: And Penn St that year. You pull one out and move on.

Ferentz: That's what the Bears did last night. If they turned it over 6 times and still found a way to win, that's short of a miracle. Sometimes it takes miracles. We didn't have one in our pocket on Saturday, and I do know this, it's hard to go through life… If you're playing every Saturday praying for a miracle, that's no good. That's not the objective. Every now and again those happen. It's happened, what's done is done. We have to worry about what's in front of us, that's all that counts at this stage.

Q: You get to see the team a little yesterday?

Ferentz: Sunday, we met Sunday.

Q: How were they?

Ferentz: Sullen, they should be, deservedly. All of us were. The key is getting back on our feet, you've got to back to work, or else we're really going to be looking for answers on Saturday. We need to be there ready to play.

Q: Are you worried about their confidence going into this particular game?

Ferentz: I worry about the frame of mind every week, win lose or draw. I worry more after wins, when things start to go good, that's usually the most dangerous time of the year. To say I'm not concerned, until you see something, you have to be worry about it. I get paid to worry, so I worry a lot.

Q: They're hearing about how great this Michigan team is…

Ferentz: That's fact, when they watch tape they'll see that. Our guys aren't dumb. When they watch the tape they're going to see an excellent team. We saw one two weeks ago. It's an unusual year to see two teams, there's a fair chance these teams are going to both end up right up there at the top. It's really an unusual thing. But we've seen a team like that before.

Q: They have great talent every year, is it because they have the experience at the right positions this year?

Ferentz: Things have all come together. The things I mentioned, their lines are playing well, Henne's a veteran. He's not a senior yet, I don't think, is he? He's a 3 year starter, a championship team. If I had to pick one, there are a lot of guys you'd love to pick, but Mike Hart, to me, you don't see many guys like that around. I'm guessing what he gives to that football team in terms of energy and all those kinds of things. It's awfully impressive. You lose a guy like Manningham and nobody's even brought that up. He may be the best, I don't know how many better receivers there are in the country. It didn't seem to affect them too badly the other night. That's been Michigan forever. They've had depth at receiver that's probably unparalleled. \

Q: Nothing against Lloyd Carr, but their talent, how big of a factor is that in them winning year in and year out?

Ferentz: What I'd say is like we were saying earlier. There's probably, every year, 6, 8, 10 teams that really have outstanding talent. They get affected by things too. Last year they had some injuries that really affected their season. You go back to the year before that, Ohio State went through that process there. After their got it settled, I think after they left town here, they only lost 1 game after that. They lost to Michigan that year? But they beat the crap out of somebody in a bowl game, Okie State. They really haven't looked back since they left here in 2004. Everybody goes through it, that's part of football. Very few teams haven't. They got back on the track ,and that's what we're seeing from Michigan right now. I'll interject this too. As good as OSU was last year, they were real good, that was a close game. They had to pull it out at the end there against Michigan. Michigan went to the Alamo Bowl, how close was that game? We saw what Ohio State did in their bowl game. Sometimes we lose track, geez, the Fiesta Bowl and the Alamo Bowl, it was that close. Smith, that was a miraculous drive. You're talking about things being pretty close.

Q: In July, one of your biggest concerns was what kind of leadership you get. How have you done through 7 games?

Ferentz: OK. It's like our team identity, it's still a process. I think our seniors are doing their best. It's been a little tough for some of them because they haven't been out there playing. Paschal's missed time, Drew's missed time, the injuries. The guys that have been playing, they've done a good job. The Elgins, the Yandas. Miguel Merrick, Miles, those guys have given us, they're out there working hard. The other guys have to jump on the boat too. Part of that is being out there every day, being able to perform. Albert Young is a guy that we thought was a prominent leader. He's been out of the lineup for a couple weeks, that takes away a little bit.

Q: What does it do for a QB when you have receivers when one week it's this guy, one week it's that, because of injuries?

Ferentz: It's like the question about the defense. Everything affects everything on offense maybe even more so. It makes for a bit of a challenge. There's nothing you can do about these things, all you try and do is manage them, make the best of them. It's realizing, again, that's part of the game. You can't use it as a crutch. Somebody's got to jump in there and do the job. We've had a lot of guys do that, too. The good news is that the younger guys, guys like Douglas, will get better with each game. A guy like Trey Stross will get better with each game. That's the bright side. The mistakes they make of youth, as long as their attitude is good, they keep improving in time.

Q: I know depth charts don't mean a lot, but I noticed that Grigsby was behind Andy.

Ferentz: Andy started the ballgame last week just based on how the week went. It'll be a jump ball this week, they're both pretty close, I think, in terms of the way they're playing.

Q: Do you see Bowman getting in there more?

Ferentz: It's a possibility. It's a possibility.

Q: Are there any red shirt possibilities of coming off?

Ferentz: I don't think so. You'd rather not, at this stage. I'll say this. There's a chance Douglas will get back, I could see that happening. Shonn Greene I could see it happening.

Q: A chance this week for Douglas?

Ferentz: I think both have a chance. I'm talking this week. I'm not even looking past this week. I think both of them have an opportunity this week.

Q: What about Dace?

Ferentz: We'll see. We'll see. Just see how the week goes. We'll see.

Q: How close were you to getting Brandon Harrison?

Ferentz: Not close enough. We were close until Michigan jumped in. They were kind of treading water, I think, that's my read on the situation. Then Phil and I did a home visit. I don't know if they'd offered at that time or just offered. It's like a 3 hour drive from Dayton, where he lives and about 7 or 8 here. That kind of ended that discussion. I'm sure it went deeper than that, but that was a factor, certainly. I think they were treading water on whether or not to go after him. Sometimes it seems like we push people along a little bit with their decisions. He's not here. That's life. It's like an injury, you just deal with it. There are a lot of good players out there.

Q: It's almost got to be a sign of respect, "Iowa's jumped on, we've got to get going with this…"

Ferentz: I don't know if it's respect or if we just forced their hand, I don't know. I'm sure they saw what we saw. He's a good guy, a good player. He probably wasn't quite tall enough for them, but they compromised a little bit, made an exception. I wish they'd said that nose tackle wasn't tall enough, boy is he a good player. Kind of like Courtney Adams at Penn State a couple years ago. He plays for San Francisco now. Jimmy Kennedy, the big guy, then Courtney Adams.

Q: There was another guy there, wasn't there?

Ferentz: A tall guy, nice looking guy.

Q: With the Bears, Haynes.

Ferentz: Jimmy Kennedy went to St. Louis, two guys were first rounders, Courtney Adams, 60th, 50th pick, like a Bob, Babineaux. He was the best guy.

Q: That was the best defensive line you guys faced.

Ferentz: They were good. They were real good.

Q: These guys, how would Michigan match up?

Ferentz: You're splitting hairs. Their offensive line is the same way. That Jake Long guy, what's the term, ‘Manster'? He and Branch are Mansters.

Q: Reggie White.

Ferentz: Yeah.

Q: Does that go hand-in-hand, when you have a great guy on the DL, a great guy on the OL, do they pull guys up?

Ferentz: It helps, sure. Both these guys are playing with great attitudes, playing it the way the game's supposed to be played. It's always a positive. Hart does that to me for the whole team. He's one of those guys who just have that power, that ability, to really give everybody a boost. He does that. They're pretty good without him, and they're real good with him. Real good.

Q: The 2002 game, up there, obviously a watershed moment. Any time a team from Iowa beats Michigan up there, they're on to something big. Is there anything you can take from that experience, even though it's a totally different team?

Ferentz: We're different, they're different. That was a big one for us. The 81 was a big one, too. We were underdogs in both. We had to be in 2002, right? That's usually the case when you travel there. Just like going into Columbus. I guess the common denominator is that if you're going to have success against a team like that particularly on the road, but against a team, chances are when you go to Columbus or Michigan you're going to play a pretty good team. You better be at your absolute best. You better play a clean game, you better be ready to compete to the fullest for the entire 60. It's just a given. It's really that way in our league everywhere. You watch these guys on tape, it's a different kind of a team, but the same challenges as Ohio State a few weeks ago. They play at a high level, so we know where we've got to get if we're to have a chance.

Q: You say the team's 5-2 right now, it feels like the roof fell in, do you feel like maybe a lot of it comes from the fact that you hadn't really played (a full game.) Purdue was good, half of Iowa State was good.

Ferentz: I don't look at it that way. My focus would be on the two weeks prior to this one. I thought we played the way I envisioned our team playing. Did we play clean enough against Ohio State? No. You can't turn it over, we made a couple mistakes that we had to pay for, but the way we were competing and practicing and playing had me feeling really good about the way we were progressing. We didn't do that last week. That's what's, to me, disappointing. I can live with losing. I don't like it, hopefully nobody does, but the whole challenge is just going out and playing as well as you can possibly play. If something happens out of the ordinary, it happens, but when you do that, at least you give yourself a fair chance to be OK. When you don't do that, you just open the door for any possibilities that can take place. When you do that, you can't moan about what you did, because you didn't do your job.

Q: As you're on the sidelines, and you see this happening, are you just hoping for someone to pull them out of the funk?

Ferentz: Hopefully every one of us involved, every coach, every player takes time to reflect on what we could have done better. For whatever reason, it didn't come together. What's done is done. What we have to do now is try and learn from it, move on. That's the challenge.

Q: Is Mitch a wait and see too?

Ferentz: Yeah. Basically the guys that didn't play outside of Paschal. Paschal, unless something happens, he's in. He played a little bit there, and everything since has been positive. Of the guys that didn't play, I'd say Albert is our best shot, based on what I know. If I was handicapping it, then probably the next two that have chance would be Douglas and Greene. Based on what they've got. The week will tell us on that one.

Q: How much would Albert's return help with consistency in the passing game?

Ferentz: His production's been good ever since he's been in there. I think it would just help us, it gets another veteran guy out there, who's been through a lot of different situations. He's been extremely dependable, any time you lose a guy that brings something besides production to the table, which he does, it's a great benefit to have him back out on the field. I think we'd all agree, the guy's the leading rusher in the league last year, he's a proven player, a proven performer, when you lose one of those, I'm not saying he's Mike Hart, but when you lose a guy like that, it impacts your football team in ways other than just how many yards a guy gets, that type of thing. Any time you lose a guy that's a proven, demonstrated performer, it's a factor.

Q: You mentioned how you're not real superstitious, but have you noticed the program covers?

Ferentz: Yeah, I did notice that. You kidding me? I don't even want to think about who's on there next week. I jumped all over that one. Gosh. I haven't asked. I'm afraid to ask. I'm afraid to ask. I don't want to ask. It's too late to abort the mission.

Q: I think it's you.

Ferentz: (Laughs) It might be an improvement, actually. That's definitely on my list of out-of-season things to consider. I notice they do group shots at Michigan, the line one week, we might go to that, or action shots or something. I'm more comfortable with that. I always hated individual shots anyway.

Q: I've seen schools do throwbacks, when they played Michigan, they'll take the cover from Michigan in the 40s, etc.

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