MN Week: Kirk Ferentz Q&A

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz met with the media this week for the final regular season press conference of the year. Ferentz gave an injury update, talked about what goes into his thinking on fourth down calls, whom he believes is worthy of All Big Ten honors from his team and more...

Q: How is Drew doing? He was walking with a boot on Saturday?

Kirk Ferentz: He is fine. They are calling it a mid-foot sprain, but we will take it easy. We had our meetings (medical) today and he is cleared to play.

Q: Drew was asked after the game about not going for it on about fourth and a few feet, and said some guys in the huddle wanted to go for it. You saw the guys pulling off the chin straps, unhappy with that decision. How do you balance that and punting it?

Ferentz: At some point you have to take some shots, but you would like to take them with more evidence. We had our chances on the third down and we didn't pick it up. On the sidelines, I didn't have a great feeling that we would make it. If you don't you open the door for them. There was a lot of time left in the game, and Andy did his job on the punt. We wanted the stop. We had three downs to make a first down and we didn't do it.

Q: Do you want to have players that are aggressive?

Ferentz: That is my job. Players should want to make it and go for it. I would be disappointed if they were waving the punt team on the field; that would not be a good sign. I just didn't think it was a smart play at that time.

Q: Can that take wind out of the team?

Ferentz: My response is let's do better on the other three downs to make 10 yards. As long as I am coaching, we will punt the ball at that point.

Q: This will be the 100th meeting between Iowa and Minnesota. Do your players know that?

Ferentz: Probably not unless I tell them. I have learned two things today.

Q: Ohio and Michigan made festival of their 100th meeting.

Ferentz: I learned two things today, this is the 100th meeting, and the other thing is that I didn't know that the Big Ten has never had a Heisman quarterback. That doesn't mean it's true. But thanks for that tip. What means anything to us is for us to play well and give ourselves a chance to win. I remember in 1981, I didn't know much about the trophy games and that was my first introduction to one. I know they will be ready.

Q: What do you use for motivation now? Is it just pride?

Ferentz: I think that is the most important thing. We are not going to win the Big Ten title. We supposedly have a bowl game in our pocket. But what is important is to play a good game and execute. We played better last week than the week before, but we need to give ourselves as many chances to win as possible. We left the door open too many times last week. If we leave the door open, the other team can capitalize on it.

Q: Is it harder to motivate them this week?

Ferentz: I will tell you at the end of the week. I have not been 100 percent this year. I like to think we have a lot of pride. We need to earn the right to come into the locker room after the game and feel good. Everyone works too hard to come up short and that has to be first and foremost for us right now.

Q: How did Minnesota score 94 points in 2 weeks?

Ferentz: It hasn't been all offense. They have done things on special teams and made some plays. They are clicking. Cupito is a veteran quarterback. He is a three year starter. The receivers are making plays. How do you explain a team being shut out three weeks ago then putting 100 points on the board. They are playing real well right now.

Q: What are your thoughts on the bowl system verses a playoff system?

Ferentz: You would have to clarify, what playoff system? Hypothetical? I would be against setting up something like 1-AA has. That would be tough on our players, first and foremost. I think the bowl system is good, some argue there are too many. It is a healthy thing. I think we have a healthy sport. IF people want to see who the top four teams are and play a couple extra games, that is fine. But you are tinkering with a lot of thing when you start doing that, namely the lives of 100+ kids on each team. This isn't a pro sport. I think you have to be careful how you look at it comparing it to other sports and leagues. We had the 12 game, but we didn't think how we were doing it and we have a situation that is less than desirable. If we move that way, I hope the powers that be think it through thoroughly.

Q: Do you want to see the Big Ten schedule go into December?

Ferentz: I am not a fan of that. I would be a strong advocate to start a week earlier. I think ist a good thing that this conference is done Saturday. Some of the Big East teams have two or three games left. I can't imagine that. We all started in early August, and to me that is too much dead time in the middle of the year and it makes it hard for normalcy in their livfes.

Q: How do you prepare for the time between Sunday and the bowl game?

Ferentz: You deal with it. You tinker with your approach. I think you finish the Saturday before Thanksgiving and play in late December or early January. I am sure its TV, Big East is prime time later in the year, like some people play on Tuesday or Wednesday nights, which I think is maddening. You are not going to have total equity in college football, but you look around it.

Q: Is it hard to keep Sims off the field, given what he brings to the table, even in spite of some of his flaws?

Ferentz: You are saying he has flaws, not me.

Q: He is not starting.

Ferentz: Because Albert is. We have two good players there and we will use both. We all have flaws, God knows I have enough. We all have areas where we need to get better, but we will play them both. I don't have a fumble phobia, if that is what you are getting at with Damian. We are moving on.

Q: Do you find yourself wanting to go to him more because of the things that he can do with the ball?

Ferentz: It's a possibility. He has done a lot of very positive things this year, there is no denying that.

Q: Talk about Chad Geary (walk on DE from Tipton, IA)

Ferentz: Reese does a thorough job recruiting, he was interested in walking on. He started as a middle linebacker for us, and in the spring we decided that being a defensive end might be his best shot. He is getting bigger and stronger and he is aggressive. I don't think anyone envisioned in September that he would be rushing Joe Thomas last week.

Q: Talk about the importance of momentum, winning the last regular season game and the bowl game.

Ferentz: Every game counts, and it's huge. We have talked in the past about the bowl win bounce, what a positive that is. When that time comes, it will be important. You want to win every game. This is important, because there is a dead period after the game. You will live with whatever, and it's nice to finish positive. They want to win there in a row for a lot of reasons.

Q: You mentioned last week that you and Coach McCarney had left messages for one another. Have you spoken yet?

Ferentz: Still haven't. I left him one after the press conference and I was going out the door when he called back. In season is tough for coaches. I think Barry and Dan talk quite a bit; they worked together side by side for a long time. I am sure we will talk soon. He knows what I am thinking and I know what he is thinking. I wish him the best this week, certainly.

Q: What are the expectations for Herb Grigsby this week in practice?

Ferentz: He needs to come out and hustle and go to work like everyone else. We took him out of the program for a week and he came back Sunday and he is like everyone else on the team and we expect him to be like everyone else to help us win.

Q: Who from your team do you believe deserves All Big Ten recognition this year?

Ferentz: The first guy that jumps out in my mind is Marshal Yanda. I know he is not the right guard, but we haven't talked a lot about him. He is a great story and a tremendous story. Lineman fly under the radar, but Marshal has played at a high level. If he is not a first team player I will be shocked. He is one of the better linemen I have ever been around. The voting, that will be interesting. You get more guys when your record is better. He is the first guy to jump into my mind.

Q: It must be hard for people to vote for linemen?

Ferentz: It's hard, that is why I am taking this moment for a public service announcement. With Pro Scouts, I was telling some guys early he was good. But the last few weeks, the cat is out of the bag. He is unique. He is very physical and extremely aggressive. He has played a couple of positions for us. My guess is that he will be a guard in the NFL. He has a refreshing personality. He has been a positive addition to our football team.

Q: Does that make you less leery of Juco's?

Ferentz: You hate to generalize, but from my coaching experiences, it's not always a good mesh at Iowa and our program. As for a guy coming in and playing two years right away, that is against the norm. He grew up in Anamosa. He fooled around in high school and he would tell you that right now. He didn't have that vision of being a college player early in his career. He did something about it to get eligible and he hung around here until I asked Reese who he was and we did our homework. I am glad that he did, because he is a great guy.

Q: What do you do after the game on Saturday?

Ferentz: We have a structure, if you will. We started working on that six years ago. It's flexible. The last few weeks I have been thinking about that and we will shift to that after Saturday. We will take this opportunity to improve as a team. First, our kids need to get out of here and we won't have to tell them twice. They need to get away for a week to recharge.

Q: As anyone asked you to speak with your assistants about coaching jobs?

Ferentz: Not me, not yet.

Q: Is that the proper protocol?

Ferentz: I have been approached by other coaches and administrators in the past. They could call me or Gary. We have not had any calls, and I don't have any idea if we will or we won't. People would be wise if they looked at a couple of guys, but I don't know if they will or not.

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