NIU 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 instant replay, going without a bye week, Mike Hart, injuries to key players, playing Jake Christensen and much, much more in this massive, 3000+ word premium transcript.

Q: I know I didn't write anything about Mike Hart's knee being down…

Kirk Ferentz: I thought it was my fault for not being more exacting in my response.

Q: It's a hard deal. You were what, 10 minutes out of a game?

Ferentz: I just want to make sure everybody understands that clearly there was more to it that was his knee down, that was only part of the discussion.

Q: Do you see tinkering with the replay thing next year?

Ferentz: I don't know. I'm sure it's going to be reviewed, pardon the phraseology, but I'm sure it's going to be reviewed or discussed. It's always a topic in our meetings. There are no perfect systems, so it's a matter of trying to find what's best, I think.

Q: You were talking earlier about a couple plays that you would have liked to have a challenge on. Do you evaluate when you make a challenge?

Ferentz: I don't want to make a challenge, and I was told by league officials that you won't have to make a challenge because they'll be all over it upstairs. Not from Dave Perry, but I was told that by a league official, and I would contest that statement. Another flaw in the whole thing right now, I didn't even catch this until the season started, illegal formations are not reviewable. We clearly were handicapped by one in 2003, Michigan scored a TD, their last TD in that ball game on an illegal formation. It just happens that one of the plays that was reviewed the other day, you could argue that was an illegal formation too. Even if they caught it upstairs, it can't be overturned. That's something we need to address as coaches in the out of season. To me, that should be a reviewable play. It wasn't, it isn't, in the bylaws. Missed that one in our last discussions. That's another little tidbit from Saturday's game.

Q: What else do you think needs to be in there?

Ferentz: That was the biggest thing, I think. If there's clearly a violation, what's the difference between if a ball is over a line or not, or is a formation legal or not? That's pretty easy to see. I don't know how long that thing took the other day, did anybody time it?

Q: About 10 minutes.

Ferentz: I would like to think maybe, I'm sure the guys upstairs are hearing it from the league, I don't' think anybody was happy. I'm sure ABC wasn't happy. If you had just taken the first review, is the ball down or not down? OK, what's the proper spot of the ball? No matter who's got it. What's the situation? Where are we going from here? It just seemed like it took a long time to get that done. Didn't seem like when they reviewed our play, it didn't take too long. You know how my mind works.

Q: The Dominique play was one you were referring to.

Ferentz: Yeah. If you went back and looked at it, see what you think on that one. I don't know if you saw what the linesman coming down the field? Go back, what I was suggesting, go back and review, take a peek at the two people working the sideline. I was watching one of them, and he clearly couldn't make the call cause he couldn't see it, he was screened. That's why replay is in there. If you look at the other one, you'll probably see why we chose to have it replayed. It didn't go our way, those are the breaks. It only 25 yards, don't worry about it.

Q: Do you kind of get an indication from the box, somebody says "If they don't do something, maybe you oughta through the red bean bag"?

Ferentz: Yeah. If you can get that information. We have never been anywhere where there are monitors in the box, but they were there on Saturday. That was helpful. They were, I'm sure, in both boxes, both teams have the same. I'm not suggesting anybody had an advantage. That's another change I'd like to see made. I wish everybody could have monitors in their box.

Q: When you were given the ball after that supposed fumble, it was on the 33, when they got the ball, it was at the 33.

Ferentz: It was huge. That's what I'm saying. Possession is only a fraction of the argument. Then where's the spot, the correct spot? That was my argument. That's what I wanted to clear up for the writer. The writer kind of dwelled on was he down or wasn't he down. Mike Hart, my man Mike Hart. I'm a huge fan, believe me. I don't get to vote for the Heisman. If I did, it'd be a tough choice. He said "It wasn't a fumble, I knew I was down. I figured they were reviewing the play to get the spot right. They didn't get it right either." I didn't make that up, Tribune. I read something in some of our papers, they just said "It wasn't a fumble" – Mike Hart. Our papers missed the rest of the story. I guess I'm siding with Mike Hart on this one. How can I argue against that guy? That was huge, that was huge. It made it 4th down. Now they'd have a decision to make. Yeah. It wasn't a gimme field goal. No yards are gimme yards, who knows. You're in a tight ball game, you've got a chance at it, that's where we were at.

Q: Take me through this part, who tells you, "hey, I think we ought to get that reviewed."

Ferentz: I ask the guys upstairs, "What do you think, what did you see?" all that. On Dominique's one, we had no choice. I didn't see the one official coming up the sideline, the guys on the line, but I was watching the guy behind that play. It looked like from where I was standing he had no idea what happened. When you watch the tape, you can see why. He's screened from it. Again, that's why you have replay. Obviously we need to move the ball at that point. I hate to use it, but we had better take a shot at that one knowing full well that the odds of having indisputable video evidence are pretty minimal, that's what this whole process has told me. Any time you take it, it's a long shot. I'm not complaining about that, it's just how it is.

Q: When you send a tape, what kind of is the normal protocol from there? Do you have a conversation regardless of whether you're ticked off or not?

Ferentz: I'm over all this stuff. It's beyond me. I'm ticked about the article, quite frankly. Because again, I'm not telling anyone how to do their jobs. I'm not telling anybody here how to do their jobs, but you have to present the entire story, I think there's an obligation and responsibility there. We usually converse somewhere mid-week. That's the way it goes. We send a tape in every week, no matter what happens. All coaches do it, we're not the lone ranger. He'll take those and use them as teaching tapes. It's good for everybody.

Q: You just highlighted a couple?

Ferentz: There were more than a couple, there were some things we thought were interesting. But hey, Michigan had the better team and they outplayed us. I want to go on the record there. I'm not sitting here crying about it costing us the game, at all.

Q: What's the biggest thing, if you were to play Jake, the thing he needs to prove?

Ferentz: The only thing is inexperience. Until we get him out there, we won't know. Hey, Drew had to play his first game, Brad Banks had to play his first. Chandler, you go right on down the list. It's how a guy gets on the field.

Q: How much of a role will the Syracuse game play in this decision? You talk all you want about seeing him in practice…

Ferentz: That was ancient history. As I said back then, I think that was about the toughest possible circumstance a guy could walk into. I thought the positive I took from it, it was rough in the first half. As the game went on, he got stronger, got better. No matter who's in there this week, we hope that same thing happens.

Q: Were you surprised by the results that Drew might be back by next Tuesday?

Ferentz: No. I was optimistic on Saturday coming out it. It's sounded like he had a chance this week. I think if it was just the wrist, it's probably realistic, at his position, because it's his left hand. Wouldn't work for a tackle, probably. The concern is the incision, infections, things of that nature. You certainly don't want to go down that road, that'd be really stupid.

Q: He had surgery this morning?

Ferentz: Yeah. Despite what I've read in several gossip columns. Yeah. It was this morning. 8:00 I believe.

Q: Being left handed, is there a different strength that Jake would have?

Ferentz: Nah. You're reading way too much into it. Who else is left handed? Vick? Vick's left handed too. He ain't going to look like Vick. Steve Young's pretty fast too, I don't know. I don't know if he'll look like either one of those guys.

Q: Kenny Stabler.

Ferentz: Let's hope he's a little faster than that.

Q: Does Jake have some escapability?

Ferentz: Yeah, he's not a stiff, no, no. All 3 of the guys are mobile. I wouldn't describe any of them as runners, but they're all mobile.

Q: How much does a QB define the personality of an offense?

Ferentz: A QB can, but it doesn't necessarily have to. If that makes any sense. In this case, right now, whoever plays Saturday, our offense has to help define them. Our offense, it's incumbent on the other 10 guys right now. For the most part, more experience, with a couple exceptions, they have more experience. They need to do their jobs extra well to help bring the new guy into the block a little bit, help him out.

Q: (A question on Wolfe's recent lack of production)

Ferentz: Temple held him, but they gave up 9 million passing yards, so that's really not a great answer. Western Michigan just played a real good game against him. That's probably an aberration, other than that, he's run against everybody. Big Ten, MAC, it doesn't matter. He goes. The guy's like Fred Russell only faster. You can imagine Fred Russell running faster than he was. They really do a nice job blocking. Everybody. Their receivers everybody. Not just the line guys, everybody's involved.

Q: Does the lefty/righty thing, does that impact things at all?

Ferentz: I don't think so. That's overrated.

Q: With Dominique Douglas being kept out of the media glare, can you talk about what you've observed from him?

Ferentz: He's a tough player, he plays hard. He doesn't seem to be overwhelmed or intimidated by whatever the environment may be. We've been on the road with him now. He handled the trip back pretty close to his hometown. It didn't seem to make him go goofy or anything like that. You worry about that with younger guys. He's really been doing a good job. He still needs to deal with details of things better, there are some things he'll blow in practice, things like that, but that's what you get with younger guys. Overall, I think he's done a very nice job, I'm really happy with what he's done on the field. It's been a good boost for us. You lose a guy, it's nice to have a guy step up like he has. I'm optimistic on Trey Stross too. I think he's shown some good things in his opportunity.

Q: What do you say to the faction of fans who want to flip to the future and see what Jake is on Saturday?

Ferentz: I would tell you exactly what I've told our football team. We're playing for 2006. There's a lot of football left. There are 4 games in front of us. Really the only thing ruled out right now is that we're not going to be the Big Ten champions. We're full aware of that. You can cross that off the list, but basically, there are an awful lot of great things that can happen. Our motives, in every regard of the program, are strictly to give us the best chance to make this a great year. That's my obligation. If I do anything to diminish that, the opportunities for our team, then boy, that's being selfish. We don't want to let our players be selfish, certainly. Our motives are to look at this season, make this the best season possible. Not only for our seniors, but everybody. Everybody in the program deserves that.

Q: There's no temptation to settle on Jake?

Ferentz: What we want to do is find a way to beat Northern Illinois. Whoever gives us the best chance to beat this very good football team, that's our goal.

Q: Coming into the year, WR was one of the younger positions. I sat down at the end of last year, 13 WRs. At this point, 7 WRs. Is that concerning?

Ferentz: Not much we can do about it. We lost our only senior. Calvin went down early, that made a young group younger. Grigsby and Brodell were the only two guys with any playing experience. The good news is that we've had some guys surface with Douglas and Stross. Kennon Christian is a guy who we need to get more involved in there too. You play with what you've got.

Q: A lot of times with young players, you talk about them hitting the wall midway through a season, have any of the guys gotten there, or are they still rising?

Ferentz: At times they look a little flat at practice, things like that. We're more concerned about their being sharp as they have to be. Typically, young guys don't' know how to practice the way they need to practice every day. That's part of the hit or miss thing that's going on a bit at times.

Q: The 12th game, now that you've gone through it, haven't had a bye week. Are you still feeling the same way about it?

Ferentz: Yeah. We went down the same road in 2002. It didn't affect us. W e basically had nobody hurt that week. If the team's playing in a pretty good rhythm and you don't have injury problems, I think most of us would rather keep playing, but you don't get that choice. You're not allowed to just say, "Oh, let's move that game over here." Generally I'm a big fan of bye weeks. It's a good break for everybody. Especially when you're out past 11 games.

Q: Woodley, I think, said that they wanted to keep going as well.

Ferentz: Once you're on a roll… I don't think it would have killed us to have an off week in 2002. We were going pretty good and my suspicion is that because of the maturity of that team we had that year, we could have handled an off week very well and come back, hit stride real quickly right afterwards. When it's going good, you want to keep going, that's natural.

Q: You said Drew had some options with his hand.

Ferentz: You could delay the surgery, they could have splinted it up and played with it. The bad side is that when you do something like that, the predictability of the outcome of the surgery goes down. Whereas this is an opportunity for a very clean, stable repair that'll be good for life versus waiting a while. Then when you're in your 50s, all of a sudden you've got a thumb that's all screwed up. That's really being short-sighted. The initial response from Drew was, as you might expect, was, "Hey, screw it, I want to play this week." Then I guess that's why we're adults.

Q: Did you have to talk him down from that?

Ferentz: Not yesterday. That's what you expect Saturday, and Sunday. Then all the facts got presented, he talked to the surgeon yesterday morning. Then he was convinced that this is what we need to do.

Q: Was it complete tear of the ligament?

Ferentz: I don't know. I just know they had to repair it. They didn't invite me into the surgery.

Q: Was there a bone chip in there?

Ferentz: Yeah, there's a bone fragment, but that's part of the deal. As I understand it, it just heals right back in the bone.

Q: Do you know at what point it happened?

Ferentz: On that sack. Two guys got hurt and we lost the ball. That was a great play. (Laughs) Sheesh.

Q: I think there were like 3 times where he reached down.

Ferentz: I don't know on which bump, and I don't know if anyone cares either.

Q: It's odd to get hurt on that play, considering other ones.

Ferentz: He took a helmet, it almost hit him right (Motions under his chin) It almost looked like a helmet-to-helmet, but I probably had a bad seat on that.

Q: On the sideline, it almost looked like Drew was trying to hide the hand from a trainer trying to look at it.

Ferentz: I didn't see that. I don't know. Like I said Saturday, he wasn't coming out, so that's OK with us.

Q: What is the general feeling on the season being able to start earlier, amongst coaches?

Ferentz: I think coaches would be OK with it. I know Iowa players would be in favor of it. I haven't surveyed anyone else in the league. Our players have always been supportive of the 12th game. I've heard conflicting reports around the conference. I know our guys are supportive of a bye week. Coming in early they don't mind. We're allowed to play after Thanksgiving. Put that to the players, it'll be unanimous, I guarantee you. Start early, what do they care?

Q: So why won't they allow you to start early?

Ferentz: When they passed the 12th game, I'm taking a guess her, I think they passed it for the extra revenue. The Presidents voted on it, so I'm thinking that's what happened. I think they passed the rule without thinking it all the way through. That happens a lot of times when you pass something, this happened pretty quickly although it was coming on the horizon. Now, after it got passed, coaches had gotten together, they think, "gee, it would be nice to have a bye week." Now the question is how to create that, moving things up. There are going to be some expenses involved, but you've got to start camp a bit earlier. If you compare the expense of that compared to the revenue from a 12th game, it's a fair wash. We're supposed to be about student-athlete welfare, it'd be nice to give a bit back to the guys playing that 12th game. I think in time, that's what's going to happen, but I don't know. I wouldn't want to predict how quickly that would take place. I'm confident it will happen. I'd like to think that the argument just wasn't presented. Now that it gets presented, I think it will be changed. The focus is on that revenue. Nobody thought about what the consequences of making the move.

Q: Physically, how was Albert on Sunday?

Ferentz: Good. He's good. I think we're doing OK there. Which is good, with Shonn being out. It's getting a bit dicey back there too.


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