NW Week: Kirk on the Side Transcript Part 2

Kirk Ferentz spoke with the media on Tuesday following his weekly press conference. In part 2 of this enormous Kirk on the Side transcript, read the captain's thoughts on walk-ons, Herb Grigsby, Sam Brownlee, and much, much more.

To read Part I of this transcript, CLICK HERE

Q: You guys probably have it easy compared to Coach Olin.

Kirk Ferentz: Yeah, I've heard there were some interesting conversations, he shared a few of them with us, they're entertaining.

Q: Have you settled on an OL at this point?

Ferentz: No, absolutely not. (Laughs)

Q: Is Dace still in there?

Ferentz: Yeah, he's in the mix. He's back, I think, pretty healthy. He could have played Saturday, we just didn't want to, I think the guys operated pretty well at Michigan as a group, collectively. The kind of injury he had, you get him out there, we can control things in practice, but somebody falls on him, you lose him for the rest of the season, for a month which is the rest of the season. He knew that was kind of the plan. We'll figure it out this week. I think we've got six guys that are playing pretty well right now, that's pretty good news.

Q: You talk about the other 2 guys at QB, looking ahead, we don't get to see those guys, can you talk about them?

Ferentz: They've both, first of all, looked like they're really enjoying football, which is the best compliment I could give them. They're really seeming to enjoy it, they're always throwing the ball, smiling, if they're not playing QB, the other guy will jump in and play receiver, it doesn't matter which guy it is. It's nice to see that. They really seem like they enjoy it. QBs that don't enjoy the game, it's not a good combination. Both look like they have good arms, we'll see how they learn as we go along. So far so good.

Q: When you look at landing Arvell and Rick, they were right, basically blocks from each other. How do you finesse that?

Ferentz: I'm not sure how we did that. I'm glad we did, I'm glad we did. Both of them had great attitudes about it. It's like when Drew came here, he wasn't overly concerned about the competition, and both these guys have the same attitude. What's better is to watch the way they work with each other out there. I said if one's playing QB the other will jump in at receiver. They're having fun at practice, which is nice to see, it's really supposed to be a little bit of fun. You like to see guys enjoy the game. They both appear that way, they have a nice chemistry with each other.

Q: You were around Hartlieb and Long and all those guys, where does Drew go down?

Ferentz: Let's wait till he's done. He's had a good run so far, we're hoping it ends up being a great run. I'd rather wait until we get done with his career.

Q: With the positive performance of Jake, does that maybe open the door for Manson to get more time at WR?

Ferentz: It could. We'll see how it looks with Drew, once we think he's out of the woods, it's a possibility.

Q: That experiment hasn't been abandoned?

Ferentz: No, not totally. It's been sidetracked a little bit, certainly, with the situation.

Q: Could you talk a little bit about Allen Zazza?

Ferentz: We talk about the whole thing, unfortunately, we never got to stay at Allen's place, but I don't think any team, to my knowledge, hasn't stayed there. It seems like they all stayed with him. I'd see Allen, actually more frequently, like when we were at Michigan State or at another venue in the Big Ten where those coaches would have him as a guest. It speaks volumes. I know the kind of hospitality he took pride in, the hospitality he would extend to the teams coming in, he took pride in it. I've been up there I-club banquets, clinics in his hotel before, he's got the wall of fame up there, down that one hallway. You talk to other coaches in the league, they just have done a fantastic job. That's one of the things that makes our state so unique, I think it's more than a job to a lot of people in our state. They really take pride in the way they handle themselves. I think it's one of the things that makes us very unique.

Q: Did you ever take the time to write a letter to somebody thanking them for the stay at their hotel?

Ferentz: Yeah, I have, for the people who have gone above and beyond, certainly. It's not a slam-dunk everywhere we go.

Q: I'm sure you guys would like to be forcing more turnovers than you have, but Bryan Mattison is 4th in the nation in forced fumbles right now. Is that the kind of play you've seen from him his whole career?

Ferentz: I'm not saying Bryan's Aaron Kampman, but he reminds of Aaron Kampman in that he's in 60-minute game form, he's just so dependable. How he's going to be at practice, how he's going to be in the weight room, the meeting room, everything about him is predictable, and predictable in a great way. His intangibles are so strong. He's gotten better as a football player, too. The physical part, he's just got great intangibles. He brings a very positive energy to the team. That kind of production, most of it, he's gotten it just from hard work, that's how he plays out there, he just keeps on working. That was Aaron's strength. The longer it went, the better it was for him. It's typical of guys that are great-attitude guys.

Q: Ed's play the last 3 or 4 weeks seems like he's really coming on.

Ferentz: I think all of us are very happy with both he and Mike. As you guys know, that position in our defense, if those guys aren't doing a good job, we're in trouble. I think both of them are really playing the positions well. Ed clearly is more comfortable inside than he is outside, it's just more about our circumstance, trying to get the best 11 guys out there. That didn't necessarily put him in his best position. I think right now, he's at home base, it certainly helps, he just feels a lot more comfortable out there, it's better suited to his talents. He's been an exemplary kid, off the field, on the field, since January he's really been in the senior homestretch mode of operation. He's done a great job.

Q: It seems that athletes sometimes can be targets themselves, whether it's the Duke case, for instance, it hasn't been resolved yet, but because of their fame, stature, what do you tell your guys?

Ferentz: That's the reality of an athlete's existence, anywhere, not just Iowa. Certainly here there's a high profile existence because of a lack of pro teams. We have a seminar each and every fall camp. Sims comes in and does a great job, a lot of current events, that's something I do my news items. Especially in camp, even during the year. I won't do it daily during the year, but during camp I will. You don't have to go searching hard for material. That's just the nature of our society. Ultimately, you almost have to be beyond reproach to not be noticed. Anything that does happen is going to be noticed and magnified, typically. It's a reality, and you live with it.

Q: Is it tough, because they are 20-year-old kids, 21 years old, they want to do the same things other kids their age are doing…

Ferentz: They do, but they sign on, this is, to me, a very special activity. It's not mandatory for anybody. With it comes responsibility. Just like that, to me, it's an honor to be allowed to go out into Kinnick and perform in there in front of the greatest fans in the world. It's an honor to go to a bowl game, things of that nature. With that comes a price, part of that is that we all have to be accountable. I always tell them, "Hey, if it's too much, feel free to let me know. You can get out." Nobody's being held here. Us as coaches, the same way. With our jobs come responsibility too. It's a chosen activity, it's not a forced one.

Q: Is it something that not even the illegal activities, but being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Ferentz: It can happen to anybody. The only difference is that it's going to be reported if it does. You have to live with that. If it is something innocent, to me, it pretty much gets dismissed. If you do something wrong, It's going to be very public and probably rightly so.

Q: And encounters with the opposite sex, whether it's just holding hands or whatever…

Ferentz: You open the papers every day. We try to be as proactive as possible. Ultimately, you can have a weekly presentation, I don't' know if that would be enough, just because it's very common in a college community for things of that nature. Our guys have to have their antennas up at all times.

Q: How has the emergence of Brodell, Stross, and Dominqiue this season affected Herb?

Ferentz: I don't know. We need 5 receivers. Everybody's got a chance right now. I think again, just overall, there have been a lot of good things going on our there, but the consistency factor… We're not the most experienced group out there. Hopefully that's something that will improve with each week.

Q: A QB's getting a helmet ripped off, playing through what he's played through up at Michigan the last two years, the ab thing, what does that do for a team as far as a boost, getting guys to follow a guy?

Ferentz: There is no bigger leadership position than QB. There are others that are close, but there's none more visible. The me, that's one of the job descriptions there. Regardless if you're slow, fast, strong armed, average arm, you'd better be mentally and physically tough. I've never seen a super bowl QB that wasn't not only tough, but physically tough. That's where it starts. Players know it. They know, good or bad, they know. Players know more than any of us know what's going on. The emphasis is his position.

Q: How'd you find out about it? I'm sure that's something you found out in the recruiting process?

Ferentz: The only reason we got him, I guess, is that A&M decided to part ways with R.C. Slocum, otherwise he was committed to them way in advance. Their bad fortune was our good fortune. It opened up the door a little bit. One thing led to another.

Q: There's a notion out there from a small faction, that he was a better player in 04 than he is now.

Ferentz: I'd reserve judgment on everything. This has hardly been a routine year, injury wise and that type of things. You consider the missed practice time, preparation time he's had to endure this year, it's probably not the script he would have written. In 2002, everything just went as smooth as can be. And 2004 for him was a good year. Doot doot doot, right down the road, no big bumps. It's a life lesson.

Q: There seems to also be a small faction, to steal your phrase, of people who were critical of Grigsby on one particular play on Saturday. Is that something concerned you?

Ferentz: I think I know the play you're referring to, and I think he didn't see the football. I checked it immediately. I was wondering the same thing everybody else was wondering. I looked up at the angle of the sun, and I think that's probably pure and simple what happened. Most receivers want to get the ball. They may not want to block, but they want the block.

Q: So there has been to much made of that?

Ferentz: I haven't heard much talk. There is, I think, a pretty logical explanation on that one. I asked the same question, you have to ask it. You immediately look up and say, "Oh, ok. That's the defense there." Most guys like catching long balls if they can.

Q: Can you talk about Sam Brownlee?

Ferentz: Yeah. Love to. You've got two guys that jump out in our senior class that aren't playing a prominent role on the field. The other being Jason, who we talked about, and a guy like Sam Brownlee. Again, the epitome of unselfishness. The epitome of being ready. You talk about the next man in, that guy's ready to go. I've said before, I'm sure he had no idea. If you told him then, he might have quit. "Oh, I have to play against Ohio State?" When he was called upon, he responded and did a fantastic job. He was prepared, he was dependable. That's what we're looking for right now. We need more of that, in my opinion. More guys that are ready to respond that way. That all starts with the attitude. He didn't walk in to it, as he got closer to that point, he was doing his work to be ready.

Q: Are those 7, 8, 9 yard runs in that game the Kodak moments that go along with the Capital One Bowl, things like that?

Ferentz: A Kodak moment for me during that year was Sam, 3rd and 9 against Ohio State, making A.J. Hawk miss.

Q: Was he #47?

Ferentz: Yeah. It's on film. It's on film. Unbelievable. That was great. At that time, it wasn't 27-0 or whatever the game was, whatever the score was, it was in the first quarter, I believe. The second quarter. The game was still in question. I think it was 10-0 at halftime, if I remember. That was a critical play. It kept possession alive. It gave us a chance to hang on to the ball. This guy just came in there, and there he goes. That's one of the great moments from that year, definitely.

Q: Do you bring that up when you're talking to walk-ons, examples. Brownlee standing along side Gallery all those other sorts of guys.

Ferentz: You never know, you can't predict those things.

Q: When you turn him off into the world, what is he going to be?

Ferentz: Whatever he wants to be. I've always described, there are certain guys you worry about for the next 60 years, then there are guys you don't' even give a thought to. Sam's in that category. Sam and Jason. Whatever they want to do, they'll do well. It won't be an easy road for them. They'll do just fine.

Q: He's a guy, there are a couple, but who could have been an Iowa conference all-star, Wartburg, Coe, whatever. Do you sense any regret?

Ferentz: He's never expressed it. We've had guys leave the program to go that route. To say, "Hey, listen, I'd rather go somewhere and play." We've had a lot of guys do it.

Q: And the QB… Bohnet.

Ferentz: Bohnet went to eastern, to be with his brother. It's a personal decision. It would really be presumptuous for any of us coaches to decide what's best for you. You've got to admire a guy like Sam, a guy like Will Lack, any of these guys. We've got Brian Reither on the team, John Michaelson when he was here. Guys who know they're not going to play, they're really respected and bring a lot to the team. That really goes unnoticed. Those guys, sooner or later, these scores, you forget about them, but you remember the people, what they were.

Q: He's probably, I don't want to guess what string he is, but Albert says he's still seeing reps…

Ferentz: Yeah, he's up and ready to play in a game. You never know. Shonn's not playing this week. You never know. And I won't be nervous. None of us will be nervous as coaches. He's proven we can count on him.

Q: Have Jason or Sam brought up the possibility of a graduate assistant, doing something with the program?

Ferentz: Sam, I haven't heard. I think Jason is interested in staying involved in football, staying in football. If there's not a spot here, we'll do our dead level best to find a place to place him. I've got a couple things in mind for him, yeah. A couple friends I might call.


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