Kirk Ferentz: There is no question that our fans are a huge factor with our bowl probabilities or changes, and that has been true each and every year with the exception of the BCS. Once you get out of that, I have to think that, and I don't pretend to be an expert on this, but I have to think that it carries a lot of weight for us. Wherever we go, our fans turn out in droves. We don't take that for granted and we are appreciative of that all year around and at bowl time that is a major plus for us. Q: How will the Iowa fans travel this year, do you think?
Kirk Ferentz: My guess is that they will be there. Our fans not only are enthusiastic but they are extremely loyal. I think that this is a venue that everyone that has been there is excited about. On top of that, it's accessible and people can drive down there. It's not a major endeavor that way. My guess is they will hit San Antonio hard.
Q: How can a bowl win erase the feelings from this year?
Ferentz: What has happened this year has happened, and as I said the other day you can run from it or face it and we are going to face it. That will not go away, it was disappointing certainly. I hope that all of us are going to be motivated to do something about it. That is going to be a matter of time. We will know more 12 months from now than we do now. In the short term, and that is how I look at it; you have a long term and short term approach, and what we do this next month is important to everyone involved. In any year, there is something good about winning a bowl game, and what it does for your out of season program. Most importantly, what it does for the guys that are finishing their careers to end on a positive. We have not done that yet this year. We didn't finish our home season or regular season on a positive note, so this would be a major help for us that year.
Q: This is your sixth straight bowl game.
Ferentz: I tried to make that point the other day. I didn't make it with the intent of denying what our record is. I am fully aware of what that is. But I am also fully aware of how tough it is to go to six straight bowls in our league; we are one of three teams now. We are talking about some other teams that have been pretty successful but have not put that string together. We are not apologizing for the way we did it. We are proud of that. We are not proud of the outcome of this season, but to go to six straight bowls, that is significant. I think it speaks well of the program overall and the potential is there for us to do better in the future and that is where our focus will turn.
Q: Usually a bowl is a culmination to a year, are you looking to this as a beginning?
Ferentz: It's both. It's a culmination of a season. Again, we didn't finish on positive notes, so it's important that that guys that are graduating can taste a win on their way out. But also, bowls are a part of an entrance into a new season on top of that. We will be a totally different team, and will be a different team in January, but some of that work begins this month. There is no denying that one.
Q: Is this most important December you have had?
Ferentz: It's hard to rank them, because no matter what the season is like you want to do well in December and play well in a bowl game, but yeah. We left the field Saturday with some questions to be answered right now. Big picture wise, the way this season has unfolded, I would hope that no one is satisfied with the way we performed week to week. That is the challenge. I thank the people at the Alamo for seeing the good, because we did some very good things this year. Maybe they are banking on the fact that we are every other week and that this is the time for us. That has been the story of our season, the inconsistencies. Are we going to compete like we did against Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin or take that other path which we did in three other games/? That is the thing that is important at this point.
Q: How will you prepare for this game? In recent years, you have gone into the bowl game with a lot of momentum.
Ferentz: Basically, as I said on Saturday, we talked about this as a team, we are starting over again here when we get back next Monday. We are going right back to starting from scratch, basically. That is appropriate at this time, based on the way we perform. We are not going to take anything for granted and start over and see what we can do in a month's time. We will go down the Saturday before the game.
Q: What does starting from scratch mean?
Ferentz: Starting from scratch. It's like going back to spring ball, which is how I am looking at it. It's the first day of spring in a lot of ways. We know a lot more than we did, some I am willing to present to the jury, other stuff we will throw out. We just need to get back here and find out where we are at, who we are and who we are going to be.
Q: Going back to square one; does that mean basic fundamentals?
Ferentz: Most definitely. To me, you can come up with all the theories with what went wrong and what we need to do and there are plenty out there floating around right now, but I still believe that it comes down to execution and how you approach and play the game. After looking at the tapes, I am more convinced than ever that that is what we need to do. Quite honestly, we finished the season better in 2000. We didn't go to a bowl game that year, but we finished the season better that year, if you look at our last four games. That is the reality of our situation right now, so I guess that throws us back somewhere in the 1999, early 2000 vintage and that is where we are at. We will pull out the play book from there and get going.
Q: Do you need players with the same mentality that those guys had back then? The players on your team right now haven't had those hard knocks..
Ferentz: I could argue that we have now. We have done well in the big picture, and I am proud of those six years of sustained success. We have had six years of success that I would put up against anyone in the nation. But the last six months won't cut it. If any of us accept that, we will repeat it and we are not going down that road.
Q: What about returning to the same bowl site as your first bowl as coach?
Ferentz: It's ironic. I was sharing this with Gary Barta. We felt so fortunate to go there, if you recall in 2001. I think it was the first weekend in December, Virginia beat Penn State, that was one game I paid attention to. The flip side of it, if that hadn't happened, I am not sure where we would have gone, the Silicon Valley Bowl. We may have landed in Boise, and they had 6,000 hotel rooms if you go there, some strings attached, that you have to buy. We were fortunate to end up in San Antonio. I was totally clueless, I had no idea what a great venue it was and how good the hospitality is. Derrick Fox is an unbelievable guy. They do a great job with the bowl. I feel the same way. As fortunate as we were in 2001, I feel the same way now. We are extremely fortunate. I hope that we can show our appreciation by delivering a good game for them, they deserve that for us.
Q: Do you have any idea on who you will be facing?
Ferentz: Nobody. I read the possibilities of the two Texas schools and I have read Kansas State and Missouri. Now, we are looking at prospects and last week's game. We will begin that process. I heard that Texas Tech throws the ball, someone said they are still doing that. I don't know if that is true. I found it interesting the names in the release, Bob Sanders, Cliff Kingsbury, two good players. Whoever we play, it will be an outstanding opponent.
Q: Do you anticipate getting any of the injured guys back?
Ferentz: We do. We have been inching in that direction. It will be good for Drew to have a prolonged period of practice without interruption. He might not have a brace on his hand, that is realistic to think that could happen. We expect Adam Shada to be back, he tweaked it again this last week. Ken Iwebema is probably the most significant guy. He played against Indiana, but I don't know what percent he was that game. His rehab is going well and its realistic to think he will be ready in two weeks. Shonn Greene hasn't been effective, so I would think these extra weeks will be good. That is one thing we will do this coming week. The week is off, and we will be careful with the guys that have played a lot. It's been a long year, and a lot of wear and tear. We need to be careful with those guys, get them back to where they can practice effectively and put a cohesive unit together during the month.
Q: When do you start practice?
Ferentz: We will follow protocol. We will start strength and conditioning next week. We will meet with them next Monday, and Tuesday will be the process. We will practice twice over the first couple of weekends; leave the guys alone during the finals. The last time we went to San Antoniio0, we had to practice during finals week, and hit and miss there with some guys in and out. This year, we have finals, and won't mess with our guys there, then a week on campus where we can get some good work done before we go to the bowl site. From a schedule standpoint, the calendar works out well this year.
Q: Will you get some practice work for some of the young guys coming back next year?
Ferentz: We definitely do that. We call it developmental work. There will be a significant portion of time to get that moving. We do that season wide, but the opportunities are better when you get in a bowl game. That is a nice addition there.
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