Kirk Ferentz: Just start out by congratulating Northwestern, they outplayed us, out coached us in every phase. They did a fantastic job, they really played an excellent football game. At our end of the table, it's very disappointing. We didn't look like a team that was ready to play. That's my responsibility. Really, we got outplayed in every area. Out coached, outplayed in every area. Pretty cut and dried right now, disappointing to say the least, disappointing to do it at home, makes it even worse. We offer no excuses, certainly. Northwestern outplayed us, they deserved to win, pure and simple. We've obviously got a lot of work to do before we take the field again in a week's time.
Q: Did you see anything like this coming?
Ferentz: I talked a little bit about that after the loss at Indiana, and that week I thought we had a pretty good week overall. This week, we didn't finish the week strong, to answer the question. I don't know if that was an indicator. In retrospect, probably. I was a little concerned about that. I thought we started the week pretty well, had two good practices, then we just tailed off a bit there.
Q: (A question on the line play)
Ferentz: We had a hard time getting to their quarterback, they protected extremely well, then we struggled at times with our protection. Some of it was just basic protections, I think first or second series, I don't know which it was, we gave up a sack on our left side, it threw us out of rhythm on that one. Certainly on the turnover, that was a basic 3-step protection where he was looking into a blitz, that was under control, but we thought we had the backside protected and didn't. That's what happens when you do that. Those things are concerning, to say the least. Then there were times where they were blitzing us where you're going to let a guy go free, the ball's got to come out, that kind of thing. When you have the protection you think in place, that's not a good surprise for a quarterback.
Q: Was there a thought to challenge that fumble?
Ferentz: I thought about using it. We took the timeout and basically, I think, the message is that if you don't get something done in that amount of time, they're already done reviewing the thing. I opted not to.
Q: Did you give thought to going for it on 4th down?
Ferentz: Sure. At the end there? We were 3rd and 8, I think it was, 8 minutes left in the game. We really hadn't done a lot to have great confidence that we were going to pick it up on that one. You play the percentages a little bit. 8 minutes is a lot of time. You'd like to think maybe you can punt it, knock it down inside the 15, maybe the 10, even better. Maybe get some field position out of it. We did that earlier in the game. The bottom line is that we didn't, and the ball was right back in that same spot two plays later. I thought about it a little bit, but at that point, 7 point game, I don't know if that would have been a smart play, in retrospect. I'd sure do it now.
Q: What were they doing to have the success they did running the ball? Was there a key?
Ferentz: I don't' think there was a key other than they were outplaying us. They had us on our heels. The quarterback, I kind of intimated at this during the week, we saw the rationale for making the change they made, this is the third QB they've played. He's probably not as good a runner as the first two, but we feel like he's more dangerous as a passer. The way their offense is, their pass/run compliment each other. They spread you out a bit, do a good job. They were blocking us, flat out blocked us. Their guys ran hard.
Q: Kind of thinking Sutton is finally at a healthy stage?
Ferentz: He looked healthy today, that's for sure. Maybe we got him healthy. Their guys are blocking, they really did a nice job. They had a good game plan, it was aggressive. I thought particularly in the first half, they made a lot of good plays, some tough throws and catches, some tough runs also. We're not a team that's doing that right now. That's they way they won and we didn't.
Q: How discouraging is this loss, the way the team played?
Ferentz: All losses are tough, certainly. You really measure it on whether we did our best, did we bring our best, and that's always the barometer. Certainly we didn't. That starts with me, I'm included in that, I'm at the head of that thing. That's tough. The other factor is that it's even tougher at home. Our fans, they were trying so hard to get our team going. They did their part, they certainly did their part, we didn't do ours, that's even worse, that's hard.
Q: After Indiana, you said a lot of it was hustle plays. Same situation?
Ferentz: I think so. I don't know if it's reminiscent of, but it's like I just said on the radio, in 2000, we caught this guys. They had it going pretty good. The difference is that they were 12th ranked then. We're not ranked. I guess we don't wear the favorite role too well. We played like Fat Cats. We looked like Fat Cats and they looked like a hungry team, that's my responsibility, that's certainly not the identity we're looking for as a football team.
Q: Do you have any insights at all you can share about why you weren't the hungry team?
Ferentz: I don't have any theories on it. The only parallels to Indiana would be that we were favored, I guess. I don't, I really don't. This is a game where you've got to be going, you've got to be going full speed, apparently we're not coaching full speed, maybe we need to do a little better job, too. Obviously we do. When you go out and play as hard as you absolutely can, which I thought we did in Ann Arbor, I thought we made a pretty good account of ourselves last week too, you can live with that. But we're searching for some answers right now.
Q: How much did his hand affect his performance?
Ferentz: I don't think it was a factor. You'd have to ask Drew, we really didn't. He practiced well during the week. Unfortunately, he ended up on the ground, I think it was on Wednesday, might have been Tuesday. I'm a little fuzzy on that one. It was probably the biggest question, what's going to happen when he hits the ground. He was able to weather that. I don't' think that was a huge factor, I really don't.
Q: Did you feel that you could still come back at the half?
Ferentz: Certainly. It was a 14 point ball game, they clearly were outplaying us, but there's 30 minutes left. At the end of the quarter I felt like we were in, I don't' want to say good shape, but I felt like it was a winnable game, there's no doubt about that. Really until when they made it 21, that didn't look too good there for us certainly. I thought that at the 8 minute mark we were still in the ball game. H9pefully we can get a stop there, get the ball back and do something with it. As long as you keep it at 7, you've got a lot of hope. The way it turned out is probably reflective of the day.
Q: A lot of people had high expectations. Does it make it harder to bounce back after some of the games you've had this year?
Ferentz: I don't know. I'm not naïve, I know there were expectations from the outside. I realize that, totally. Our expectations really haven't changed., as a staff or as a program-wise, from day 1. They really haven't changed. It's all about us doing our best, doing our best on a weekly, daily basis. Usually if you do that, good things are going to happen, if they're supposed to, if they're supposed to. The outside expectations, I can deal with that and handle that. I think we'd all agree, right now, that we didn't match their tempo today or their level of coaching today. That's hard to live with, hard to swallow.
Q: That's not the first time this season that has come up. Does that tell you anything?
Ferentz: I think anytime you fall short of where you'd like to be, you surely look at everything, real closely. It's not going to start tonight or today, you're always looking at what you're doing, evaluating what you're doing, good or bad. The next thing is to try and come up with some solutions, some slants on it. The thing that doesn't change are your expectations, your standards. I think how you achieve those things, you're always evaluating those. Certainly you write those things in pencil, you're always trying to find a better way. We don't' have the answers right now.
Q: Do you have an update on Iwebema and Kanellis?
Ferentz: I can give you that. Alex has just kind of generally been fatigued, then this week he had a little bout with, I think a viral thing, earlier in the week. We had made the decision to try and rest him a bit, get him caught up a bit. He's been through a lot. They think he might have had a touch of mono early, prior to his appendectomy. Our feeling after last week is that he's kind of out of gas right now and needs some time. Kenny, unfortunately, has an injury, Derek Pagel had the same thing, whatever year that would have been, where it's an irritation in the joint, they're going to have to scope that on Monday, basically. He's able to play with it. The difference with Derek is that he's not banging on guys every play, and Kenny has to. He's been trying to go, but it's just not working out. They're going to address that on Monday, hopefully get him back in December.
Q: (A question on the high number of players used on defense…)
Ferentz: Last couple of weeks we've been doing that. I don't' think there's a fix, we just have to play better fundamental football. There are no magic cures for anything we're doing poorly right now. We have to do better. It starts with our fundamentals and our attitude.
Q: Did Drew Tate's missed practice show up today?
Ferentz: I don't think so. I think it was more of a factor early. Obviously if he'd been healthy every week and just clipping along, that'd be a perfect scenario, but that's not how its panned out. The good news is, the more he works, the better he'll get. Like a younger player, when you miss a substantial amount of time, there's more room for things to get better. Nobody's offering up an excuse on that one. I think based on what we saw in practice, we felt like we were capable of playing a good game.
Q: (A question on whether there was a thought to bring in Jake)
Ferentz: You look at every position, everything we're doing. I don't think it's fair to say it was just the QB today, in fact I'm pretty sure it wasn't. There wasn't a lot we did. We didn't do enough to help him, we didn't do enough to help ourselves overall.
Q: (A question on whether you can see a game like this coming in preparation)
Ferentz: The Indiana one was puzzling a little bit, I didn't see that one coming. This one, today, there might have been a couple indicators, late in the week. We weren't able to get it back. That's the risk you run when you play a team that is playing well, and playing the game the way you're supposed to play it. They certainly did it. It starts with coaching, that's my job to get the team to feel ready to go. That's my job.
Q: You talk about these indicators. Can you describe what they are?
Ferentz: More concentration things than anything else. We haven't developed the consistency with our approach that you need to develop. That is part of it, as the season goes on, we expect our teams to improve. We expect everything to be a little smoother, and we've had a lot of omv9ing parts. I'm sure it's a factor, but that's part of life, too. You have to adjust to those things. If anybody's looking for a crutch, you can always find one, anywhere. Looking for crutches doesn't solve problems, I know that.