Kirk Ferentz Q&A from 11/07

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz answered questions from the Iowa media today during his weekly press conference. Ferentz was asked about team chemistry, what buttons a coach can push, whether or not his team's schemes are too predictable and other questions on the heels of the worst loss in his Iowa coaching career...

Our captains this week are Miguel Merrick, Ed Miles, Marshal Yanda and Mike Elgin.

Injury wise, it doesn't look like Adam Shada will be back. He is not 100 percent out, but having him back would be a stretch. There is a good chance that he could be back in a week. Ken Iwebema had surgery yesterday and that went well and hopefully he is back for a bowl game. I think Shonn Greene will be back this week, and we will monitor Alex Kanellis, as he has had an illness.

We are playing a team that is enjoying a great season. They are playing well on film, and as their record would indicate, they are doing well in all areas. That is in their record. They have good people and they are playing hard with good schemes.

Offensively, one thing about them is that they are big. They are typically big and physical and things have not changed. Joe Thomas is their smallest guy and he is outstanding. They are all big, back to their running back. Hill is running well for a young guy and they are putting points on the board.

They are aggressive on defense and they return a lot from last year. They are playing well and you would expect that, but some of the newcomers are playing better than the guys they replaced, with respect to the guys from last year. Their kicker will put it in the end zone; their field goal percentage has been very good, as has the punting game. When you are at this point in the season with one loss, they are an excellent team. Our task is to get back on our feet and be ready to play sat.

Q: Are you surprised that Bret (Bielema) is having the success in his first year like he is enjoying?

Kirk Ferentz: Not really. They had a lot of good players coming back. They lost some on offense, but they have done a good job. This year parallels last year. I am surprised on one hand because of their graduations. Ohio State surprised me how they have played well on defense. Wisconsin went through that a year ago and they had a great year despite losing some key players. The same way this year. They had three senior receivers and tight ends. They have filled those spots. It's like a year ago.

Q: Do the X's and O's carry over from the previous coaching staff?

Ferentz: The offensive coordinator remained. Defensively they have a new coordinator, but they are running the same scheme. They are playing better than a year ago and they were good last year. They have great confidence.

Q: Something that has come up lately is that you guys are predictable. How would you respond to that?

Ferentz: The team we are playing is pretty predictable, too. They are 9-1. Good teams are usually predictable. Good teams have tendencies, the old saying goes. We have them, but we are not a good team right now. It's more about execution and about how you go about your work, than I am formations and personnel groups. Those are important, but most important is how you play.

Q: Wisconsin's quarterback John Stocco might not play this week. Will that affect them?

Ferentz: I hope it does. I don't wish them ill will, believe me. He is a senior leader and he seems like he has been there a long time, like Bollinger was there for a long time. I would think it might affect them. That being said, they have a good system and supporting cast. The guy coming in can run faster than Stocco, but I don't think he is as an experienced a thrower, I will say that.

Q: Talk about Joe Thomas. You have been struggling to get pressure on quarterbacks this year.

Ferentz: I am not saying he is Jonathon Ogden, but when you play a team like that, chances are you won't get pressure at that match up. It's like having a cover corner that can blanket someone, you don't throw that way. You don't give up at that position, but you don't expect a lot of production and it's why you have more than one guy rushing. We played a good guy at Michigan, Long is an excellent player. That is a part of the game and it will be a challenge for whoever is out there at that spot for us, but they will compete. There is a reason why he is so good.

Q: There are 18 seniors that will be playing their last game at Kinnick. What do you think their legacy will be?

Ferentz: That remains to be seen, as we are not done here. Like every last home game, the first thing they will all say is that it went quick. We are at that time of year. It's emotion for every senior, your last home game, it's tough. It's a special day, always has been. It's bittersweet. You hate to see guys leave, but that is part of life. They have been great and we hope they can finish positive.

Q: Do you think the problems are just with execution? Are you happy with the attitude of this team?

Ferentz: It's hard to be real happy when we haven't played as well as we had hoped. Execti9on is a part of it, but there are a lot of factors. I am not minimizing schemes, but fundamentals and execution are paramount. It's a complex equation, just like success is. We are searching to make adjustments to get to where we have success again

Q: Can you pinpoint the problems?

Ferentz: If I could, we wouldn't be 6-4. Obviously I haven't done a good job and that falls on me. We are all working on that right now and hopefully we will get it straightened out.

Q: What are some of the things from the Northwestern game that you need to work on this week?

Ferentz: I thought Andy punted well Saturday. Outside of that….to me, we have to get over the hump. It has to be a collective thing. We have to get over the hump and we need everyone to improve, starting with me. All week, just not on Saturday's. That is what we have to do. I don't think you can expect dramatic changes in five days, but we have to put our best foot forward. We have not done that consistently.

Q: Do you have to change the buttons you push? How do you reach them?

Ferentz: We are working on that. There is no magic answer. You are looking at a short term solution then you look at the big picture. This is not the time to do that, and we do that each year and we have new information to look at this year. Right now, we focus on what is in front of us and do the best we can. It's not more complex than that. We wont put the wishbone in or switch defenses. We have to work on what we do and do it better.

Q: Is there a splintered locker room?

Ferentz: No. No. Maybe I am out of it, but no. I have never sense that

Q: You are seeing the program through the good times and some not so good times.

Ferentz: It's part of life, it's a part of football and just like anything you do. You have high's and low's. Some stay higher longer, and that is the goal. You want to feel good all of the time but we are not there right now. You think about the different solutions. Short term, do you take a day off? Bottom line is that you go back to work. I don't think there are any radical solutions, and those are quick fixes and we are not into that. We will go back to work.

Q: Is Kyle Schlicher being 100 percent why Austin Signor is not kicking off?

Ferentz: That is a part of it. He is a senior, and we feel that his placement is more accurate based on experience. That is the thinking there, and he is fully healthy.

Q: Were you satisfied with Tate's handling of the offense, given the splint on his hand?

Ferentz: That worked out. He hit the ground a few times. I don't think it's a huge factor, and that is not the reason we were not sharp on Saturday. One of the other success stories from last week is that that worked out and hopefully he can go forward.

Q: Last year at Wisconsin, you stifled Calhoun. How do you prepare for PJ Hill?

Ferentz: He is a different type of back. Standing over there in the first quarter last year, we might not tackle him all day long. We were concerned there, but we settled down and we got warmed up and played better. Hill presents a different challenge. He is big and physical. One of the Penn State players said he is faster on the field than he is on tape. It's amazing for a guy that young to play with that consistency. He fits right in with what they do and they do a great job with it.

Q: Was the last time Wisconsin was here one of your best memories?

Ferentz: I can barely remember that long. I am having a hard time getting past last Saturday. But yes, that was a more pleasant memory. It was a great game, and a great moment. It was a pretty good day, but it does seem like ancient history right now. Thanks for bringing it up, though.

Q: Is defending the spread offense one of those big picture things you talked about?

Ferentz: Yes and no. I would suggest, we have played well against spreads at times. It's not new this year. I keep going back to how you play. It's how you play things. If you lose leverage and don't tackle against any attack….Wisconsin is not a spread attack. If you lose those things, and don't take blocks on well, you will have problems. If you don't play the angles correctly based on the defense, you will have problems. It will happen. That is when big plays or plays that gain more yards than you would like, occur. If you do it enough, it's tough. If you blow coverage against any front, you give up a big play. When you give those up, it doesn't matter what offense you are playing, you will be in tr4boule.

Q: Have the injuries affected the defensive line?

Ferentz: It's hard to put a percentage or meter on that. You go into every year that there will be variables. There are a lot of things that can happen to a team. Some years are more exciting than others. But you have to adjust no matter what and find answers. If what you find doesn't work, you keep looking. We did a good job of that in 2004. We had our excuses there, too. Our production was off in one area, but you have to find strength in other areas. You can't predict that going into a year. You have to find a way to make the puzzle work.

Q: Is this team executing in practice and not in games?

Ferentz: That is not a fair statement. We didn't finish the week strong last week. In general terms, we have not established consistency. How we are is reflective of our record. You get what you deserve most of the time and our record is a good indicator for us, just like Wisconsin's is for them. I don't see any flukes out of them.

Q: How much can a coach affect chemistry?

Ferentz: You just keep working. It's no different than teaching a class. You try different things at times, but I write things down and look at them. Sooner or later, repetition gets to you. That's as great thing. Not that I taught for a long time, I just know what works for me, and that is to keep working and get that across to a group.

Q: Were you a part of recruiting Bret Bielema to Iowa?

Ferentz: I am not sure he was recruited or not. He walked on. I remember when he came here, and the rest is history. Like a lot of walk ons here, he made the most of his opportunity. He has done well in coaching.

Hawkeye Insider Top Stories