Kirk Ferentz: First of all, just to congratulate Minnesota, they really outplayed us in every area and were certainly deserving of the win. I'll also say we're extremely appreciative. Hopefully we still have a bowl bid out there and we're very appreciative of that and we'll do our best to go play a good game, put a game together to see if we can't improve. There's not a heck of a lot to say about his game. We got outplayed, we got out coached, all of us have ownership. Certainly it's disappointing, it's certainly disappointing t be sitting here at 6-6 right now. That being said, that's what we are, that's what we played like today. Things tend to work out the way they should. This was not a fluke. Hopefully nobody associated with our football team is happy with the way we've played or conducted ourselves. We basically have a month left in this season, and that's where our focus will shift, the players have a week off.
Q: The INT before halftime, how big was that?
Ferentz: They were all big. I hate to sound negative, but we got out coached, our special teams were unspectacular, on defense we couldn't get a stop when we needed it, on offense we turned it over, I think, five times by the end. I lost track. I've got five fingers, I guess. That hurt, obviously, but at that point, it was anybody's game to win. It would have been helpful to score there, but it's a 3-point game, anybody's game to win in the second half if we took care of business, which we weren't able to do.
Q: What was your decision to put Christensen in?
Ferentz: Things weren't going real smoothly for Drew, I think maybe he needed some time to get cooled off a bit. We got Jake a shot in there, a tough situation to a player off the bench, especially at that position, to put him in there. We came back with Drew. We just felt like in the fourth quarter he gave us the best chance to win.
Q: Drew was really upset about that INT in the end zone.
Ferentz: Rightfully so. That was a play that hurt us, but again, that wasn't the end of the game. Going back to the last two weeks, really, my mind won't go back much further, we've had our chances in the 4th quarter the last couple weeks, including today. Good teams find ways to win in the 4th quarter. We haven't done that, we're not a good team if we're 6-6, obviously. You find ways to win and we got what we deserved, I guess.
Q: Talk about what it means, you have a breakout performance from Brodell, Albert had a good day.
Ferentz: Absolutely. There are a lot of statistics that don't count, and if we hadn't turned the ball over...You turn it over, yardage is totally insignificant. The #1 thing you have to do on offense is score points, flip it on defense, you have to stop people from scoring. Yardage wasn't a problem today, moving the football wasn't a problem, but if you don't get the points it doesn't do us any good. Hopefully nobody feels good about our statistics. Only statistic that matters is that 6-6 and 0-1 today, so it's not a lot to be thrilled about at this point.
Q: Was this a microcosm of the season?
Ferentz: It's probably fair to say that. I think the last play of the game, the last offensive play for us was an apropos way to end the football game. It really is. It's an awful lot like how our year went, we couldn't do enough in any phase, coaching included, to get the job done.
Q: That's the third time you've mentioned coaching.
Ferentz: The head coach, that's my responsibility. We just need to do better. That's my job to get the team to the game better prepared to win a football game. I'm not real pleased with the way that came out. I think all of us need to look inward a little bit, it starts with me. None of us can make assumptions, we all have things we need to improve on, and that'll be our focus this coming month.
Q: Was it your suggestion to take Drew out?
Ferentz: Yeah, it was my suggestion all the way, and my suggestion to bring him back in. I just felt like he needed some time away from it, we'll see what happens and how things developed from there.
Q: Was it your intention to put him back in?
Ferentz: It was my intention to see what happened when Jake went in there. I want to make sure I make this point, that's a tough situation, for a guy that's played one game, to get thrown in. I just felt like it was necessary at that point. My decision bringing Drew back in, again I felt it just gave us the best chance to win the football game. As I said, we had our opportunities in the 4th quarter, but didn't get it done.
Q: The way Minnesota was able to run the ball, was that surprising?
Ferentz: Yeah, I said that two weeks ago. When a team can run the ball at will on you, it's hard to play good defense. Maybe that's old school, but it's true school. The stats bear that out, all levels. When a team can run the football on you, it's hard, unless you've just got phenomenal corners, which nobody in our conference is that endowed. You can't win if they run the ball on you.
Q: They went for it on fourth down a lot, was that surprising?
Ferentz: They had a lot on the line, but but I thought we had a lot on the line, too. It wasn't just about them. They had this checklist of things, and rightly so, not to take anything away from them. It was a big game for us, too. We had a lot to prove, a lot to show, but we came up short, they got it done. They did a heck of a job.
Q: The play on 4th down where Albert slipped down on 4th down, what sort of discussion was there?
Ferentz: That might have been, maybe as revealing of our year, I think we had an opportunity to get the first down on that one, it sure looked like it to me. We didn't get it done. That one ties in, we can think of probably 6 plays today, maybe more. Back to the thought process. We found out at halftime last week that (Kyle) wasn't feeling full strength, he didn't practice Tuesday or Wednesday, practiced on Thursday, we just weren't quite sure he'd drill it, right on the 25 maybe. Normal circumstances it was probably doable, we were fully aware we needed 10 points. The plan from the outset was the ball on the 20 for Kyle. That was the deal. We also felt we could make it on fourth, I had good confidence we could do that.
Q: Is there one thing you can tangibleize from this season?
Ferentz: Total Inconsistency. It's been in all 3 phases, everybody's got ownership, here. When you don't play consistently in our conference, you end up where we ended up, that's not a pleasant thing. We've covered some territory now, you've got to back in the record books to find us where we are right now. We'll take a little break here, then the key thing is going to be how we respond this coming month, first and foremost, then we'll move forward. 2007 is going to be a new year. TO me, the new year is going to start a week from Monday. We'll find a lot about our team in the coming month.
Q: On the INT before half, were you just hoping to catch him sleeping?
Ferentz: It was a play we had on the board all week and felt real good about. If it's not there, I think it was a 2nd down call, first? Ok. It's not there, throw it away, come back, take a couple more cracks at it. We're sitting on at least 1 timeout, maybe 2. Time wasn't a factor, downs weren't an issue. Again, that was not the deciding play. It didn't help, obviously. It would have helped, I think. I'd like to think, don't assume that one either. It's been one of those years where you can't assume anything. Back to basics, that's the only thing I know.
Q: Are you glad you're going to a bowl game?
Ferentz: Extremely thrilled, and very appreciative. That's what the rules say. We go with 6 wins. I'm glad, because it's going to give us an opportunity to keep playing football, and hopefully right this thing a bit, because we're not right right now. I'm extremely appreciative of the opportunity to play in someone's bowl, whoever takes us, we'll be thrilled to death, and also to keep working to get better. That's what we need to do.
Q: This is a tough one to ask.
Ferentz: You kidding me? Were you out there for 60 minutes? It can't be worse, go ahead. Fire way.
Q: It seems like Minnesota was the tougher, more physical team today. How do you remedy that?
Ferentz: You could probably find another game or two where that was the case there. We'll go back to work. We've been there. You never want to go back there, but we've been there. We are what we are right now. If anything good comes out of this whole thing, it's pretty clear. The record is what it is. You either run from it or face it. We'll face it, and get better.
Q: You say 6-6, and every time you say that it sounds like it makes you want to puke.
Ferentz: 6-6 sounds pretty average.
Q: Did you think you'd see this after you got it turned around?
Ferentz: Our guys know this, I don't know a lot about much, but I do know college football a little bit. The fact that we're going to our sixth straight bowl, you can debate how we're getting there this time, we really earned the other five. We still have a chance for a winning season. Based on today that's a long shot, but we still have a chance for that. Just do the math in our conference, how many teams have gone to 6 bowls, 6 straight winning seasons, that's not in the bank, I want to clarify that. That's one thing I do for a living, watch that stuff real closely. You never take anything for granted, you never assume anything. That's just the nature of football. The NFL's a tough league, the Big Ten's a tough conference. There aren't many teams in our conference, I don't think, that have gone to 6 straight, currently. Those are things I'm aware of, 24 hours a day all year round. I don't know much about anything, I promise you. But I do know a little bit about the recent history of this league, at least since I got it in and a few years before I got here, a little bit about the 80s. Those things are hard to do. Could we have done better this year? Heck yea, no doubt about it. That's hard to live with, too, but that's my responsibility.
Q: Is that pretty much what you told the team?
Ferentz: Something like that, I guess.
Q: Among other things.
Ferentz: I think I interjected a few things. That's where we're at. We're not surrendering, we'll be back.