UM Week: Kirk Ferentz Q & A

Kirk Ferentz addressed the Iowa media on Tuesday as he does each week. He talked about the disappointment from one week ago and the challenges that Iowa faces this week when it travels to second-ranked Michigan.

Captains this week are Miguel Merrick, Edmond Miles, Drew Tate and Marshal Yanda.

Injury wise; The easiest way to say it is this; the guys that were out at the end of the game with the exception of Marcus Paschal who came in and played successfully, he is ready to go. Wilson the same way, everyone else right now is watch and wait during week. The guy with the best chance to play is Albert Young, but we will see how that goes.

The Indiana game, like I said on Saturday, we didn't play well enough to win. They got the win and we have to move on because the team we play this week is outstanding.

Probably, not probably; this is the best Michigan team that we have seen since being back at Iowa. There were two years where we didn't play them. This is the most balance we have seen, and they are nationally ranked. If you saw them Saturday, you saw an outstanding team. Rankings are subjective this time of year, but their ranking is deserved. They are strong at every position. It was like looking at Ohio State on tape a few weeks ago, they don't have any weaknesses. With Ohio State, you expected to see some weakness on defense, but we didn't see any. Last year Michigan came in here with wounded DB's, came into our game scrambling, but they have taken care of that.

They are strong in all areas, but their line play on both sides stands out. Long (OL) has it going good and everyone is following his lead, Branch is a gigantic defensive player who was gigantic last year. Go right down the list, they are playing well at all positions.

The guy that impresses me more than any is Mike Hart. That guy, and he was dinged last year. I said last year that it made a difference last year with him out of the lineup. Mike is a special player. I just said on the radio, I did some prelim all American thing a few weeks ago. I hadn't seen them on tape, so my ballot will be different the next time I get it.

That being said, we have to be at our best and get back on our feet, because we have a tough challenge. That is what the week is for.

Q: Two years ago, you lost to Arizona State and then went on to Michigan. Instead of caving in there, it was a highly competitive game. What happened the week between those games?

Kirk Ferentz: All losses are tough to deal with. The ASU loss was disappointing because we did not compete in any areas in that game. We competed on Saturday, but we didn't do it well enough or not enough as Indiana. So it's similar a little bit. Our approach will be like any other week. We go back to work today after having dissected it on Sunday. The proof will be in the pudding with regards to our approach, what we do to prepare. Hopefully we learned that if we try to perform like we did last week in any week in this conference, that is not good enough.

Q: Are you at a stage now where you have to monitor Albert more closely, because he is going to tell you that he is ready to play.

Ferentz: It's the same with any player; it comes down to what they do in practice. The biggest factor when you miss several weeks as opposed to just one week is that it requires more work to get into a flow. That is going to be the situation. Let's see how the week goes and make a judgment on Thursday. If a guy misses time, he is just not as sharp when he gets back on the field. Veterans do get back quicker (with regards to being sharp).

Q: Are you concerned about Damian's mental side (due to the fumbles)?

Ferentz: No. In a word, no. I am not diminishing the importance of that. Damian normally does a good job of protecting the ball; he knows how important that is. Michigan has lost one fumble this entire season. That is a part of winning. They are doing all things well. I think all of our backs understand the importance of it. It should not become a mental block. We can't turn it over at any position. We can't do what the Bears did last night, six turnovers and win. That might be a world record. In a game against Michigan, they don't turn it over or make mistakes. Any mistake we make will be magnified at the end of the game

Q: Is the new defensive coordinator at Michigan more aggressive?

Ferentz: I don't think they have shredded the playbook from a year ago. My guess is that they are pretty set philosophically. Coach Carr is a defensive guy. There is a way they like to play. They are playing at a high level. It's impressive to watch them play right now. They have a lot of older guys that are playing well now, playing confident. They are not in a scramble mode right now. In 2004 when we played Wisconsin, there were two great fronts out there. That is what you are looking at here with Michigan. Ohio State has had a lot of groups like that.

Q: What are offensive lines doing to neutralize Kenny?

Ferentz: I don't think that I can say there is any one thing. One thing affects the other. This past week, we didn't get it done in any phase.

Q: Is he hurt?

Ferentz: We have a lot of guys that are playing with bumps and bruises. It affects people.

Q: Will you put in any extra protections for Drew Tate?

Ferentz: Yes and no. We have to be smart about what we try to do. The downside is that if you keep a lot of guys in all the time, it makes it easier for them to cover you. I don't think we will alter what we do dramatically. They are doing a great job of getting pressure on a quarterback. They are playing a lot of situations where defensive coordinators have the upper hand; second and third and longs. There are not many plays in the redzone against them because teams don't get there.

Q: Is this the most banged up you have ever been?

Ferentz: I am sure we have had guys this beaten up before. It comes and goes and you can't predict it. 2004 was not as wide spread as our injuries are now, but we were hit at one position. It's a part of the game and we will not dwell on it. For every year where guys get hurt, there are years where they don't.

Q: What do the receivers need to show you this week to prove that they belong?

Ferentz: I think the key thing there, and probably at every position; the race is consistency. That is the race you always run. Are you improving and are you consistent. I didn't see anything we did well enough Saturday to say we have arrived. The first kickoff, we were worried about their kick return phase, we break down on contain on the first one and it didn't kill us. They got an extra 12 yards on that. The killer there was a penalty out of bounds. That was two errors, and that gets you beat. It's the 12 plus the 15. It got the ball rolling. If you play like that, that is losing football. That is just one illustration. You have to do the basic things right.

Q: Talk about Drew's argument with Coach O'Keefe. Is that the most upset that you have seen him?

Ferentz: No, are you kidding me? The infamous spike will be the all timer. I don't think that is an issue. We have bigger issues than that. Drew is an emotional guy. That is how it works.

Q: Is what you have seen of Adrian Arrington on film what you expected of him when you recruited him in high school?

Ferentz: I think he looks about like what we thought he would. He is a guy that we all know about. A great young man and a great family. We liked him in high school. Guys go off to school and continue to grow. He looks like he has matured a bit. I remember meeting Mike Williams in high school, then I met him less than 12 months later at an Orange Bowl function, and I didn't recognize him. Adrian has physically developed and he is playing well.

Q: One bright side from Saturday was the play of Trey Stross. Why hasn't he been out there more before?

Ferentz: Consistency has kept him back. What you do in games count, but to get there you have to do it in practice, and the guys that do that get on the game field first. He made some great grabs the other day, one in particular in front of our bench. I read in the papers the next day that I said he catches the ball with his hands. That was a real profound statement, right? As opposed to catching it with his feet. What I meant was that he catches the balls out of front of him with his hands, like you should. He snagged one ball, and that was good to see. We have high hopes for him, like the other guys we have recruited that are not playing as much. They just have to be consistent in practice.

Q: You are only as good as the last game to the outside world.

Ferentz: That is scary

Q: Do you encourage players to dismiss things they hear outside of here?

Ferentz: You have to. It works both ways. When you win, the praise is more than deserved, and when you lose you open yourself up to a lot of things. It's why people have interest in sports. You have to keep your focus on reality. After every game, win or lose, there will be things to correct and address. You have to keep your focus on things. That is all that you can do if you want to get better. It's easier said than done. As coaches, we don't have to go around town. The players are out there living in it. That's why it's tough when things are going well, too. They hear more than we do.

Q: With the 12 game schedule, do you think adding a ninth Big Ten game is something to look at, or do you like it as is?

Ferentz: I like it as is, but I have not thought about it. We would like a bye week, and we would like to not play during the Thanksgiving weekend. So the NCAA has to address the issue (if they are to get a bye). That would be a good thing. We played 12 straight in 2002, and we had no problem with it. We were rolling. Sometimes that is a good thing.

Q: What is the impact in losing Michigan and Ohio State from the schedule over the next two years?

Ferentz: I have not thought about it that much. Joe Tiller joked about it a year ago, they had Michigan and Ohio State where they wanted them, off the schedule, and their season didn't go the way they wanted. You play what is in front of you.

Q: Will you miss them?

Ferentz: What I wish is that we could break up our bus trips. Last year was bus trip year, next year is bus trip year. I have not thought about it, but I wish we didn't have to take three bus trips in one year. I do have an opinion on that.

Q: Have you seen much of the Miami-FIU brawl?

Ferentz: More than I care to. I saw Don Strock. We worked together for three years and he is a great human being. You can tell that was a tough one. We talked about things this morning. I will never forget my first NFL camp meeting in 1993, where the coach went over the gun policy rule. I was like, ‘OK, you can't bring guns into the building'. My point there is what happened the other day, I don't know how many teams have approached the subject and we have to now. Why would you think of that, because you can't imagine it happening? It's unfortunate, and I feel bad for all the good people in both programs involved in that. It's like us losing the game, you deal with it and move on.

Q: Is there a tendency to tweak things after an underachieving week like you had?

Ferentz: The biggest thing is our attitude. We didn't play with the attitude you have to play with if you are going to be successful. We have to get ready and get better and that starts with me.

Q: Is there one thing that the defense needs to do to get better?

Ferentz: Everything affects everything. Most good teams play the same way. Unless you have a dominant guy, it's a team game. Everything feeds off of everything and each other. I don't know that I can put my finger on one thing. We have played good defense this year, but we didn't perform well in any area on Saturday. We deep snapped OK. That might have been the highlight, and that is not a good thing. I haven't thought about that. That is a positive.

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