Q: (Bill Cowher) might come back
Kirk Ferentz: It wouldn't shock me.
Q: They might make the playoffs
Ferentz: They might. Anybody can make them right now, right?
Q: Except the Chiefs
Ferentz: Just about anybody
Q: How tough was this Alex decision for you? He's never been in trouble.
Ferentz: I don't know if I've ever liked suspending anybody for a game, in fact I know I haven't. Alex is a tremendous young guy. That makes it that much harder. That being said, he crossed a line, and we've got some policies. It's really not one of those deals that you can discuss or negotiation. It's just unfortunate, and when we get back here in January, it's done, finished business, as far as I am concerned.
Q: Is he going on the trip?
Ferentz: No, he won't make the trip. Bad timing on his part, unfortunately.
Q: You're just hoping nobody get hurts on DL?
Ferentz: We'd kind of been hoping that for 6 or 8 weeks. To me, assuming Kenny's healthy, we're in the same situation. Kenny's on the boat now, Alex is off the boat.
Q: When did Vernon hurt his knee?
Ferentz: It's kind of been an ongoing thing. To give you more information, it's more a structural problem. It's not necessarily just an ACL. It's more because of the structure of his knee. There are some other complications in there, where it's not just a routine OK, you're ready to go. It's going to be a challenge for him to come back and play. Realistically, it's going to be a challenge.
Q: A re-alignment type thing?
Ferentz: Yeah. The meniscus made it tricky, or lack thereof.
Q: So his career might be in jeopardy.
Ferentz: I think it is. My advice to him has been to move it on. I think he's going to. There's some things that aren't smart. He'll definitely stay with us and we're encouraging him to. Like Alex Willcox, he's working with the defensive line, he works with Chris in the strength room. He's been such an asset. I've made it clear that any player that has an injury owes us nothing. There's no player on the team that would trade places with any of these guys with those injuries.
Q: They keep scholarships, obviously.
Ferentz: Most definitely.
Q: I don't know what's up with Ettore, but I imagine there's something there that's just not working for his knees. Is he in the same boat?
Ferentz: He might be. This is his fourth surgery. Once you go in for four different surgeries, any sane person would start thinking, and any sane adult around him would start thinking the same thing. Brian's deal was one thing, it was elongated, but it was one thing, not four different things.
Q: Did you go through two-a-days this past month at any time?
Ferentz: We had double session once, but we're just trying to see a little extra time.
Q: How did Elgin do giving the commencement address?
Ferentz: I thought he did pretty good. He's a little funnier than I thought. A little hidden wit.
Q: What'd he have to say?
Ferentz: It was just a great address. He talked about life lessons and all that stuff. He injected a little humorous side that I hadn't seen of him. It was good. I still haven't gotten a copy. I requested a copy, I haven't seen it yet.
Q: Some Iowa fans I talked to assumed there would be a complete depth chart change. What do you say to that?
Ferentz: We acknowledge the fact, believe me, we know better than anybody, we saw the tapes, we didn't play well. Again, my approach has always been that we're going back to work. That's what we're doing. If there are any depth chart changes, they'll be merited, either (a) merited or (b) the result of somebody being hurt. We've played well at times this year too. We're not ready to cash everything in. The big thing is just working on what we haven't done well. That, to me, is what's paramount at this point.
Q: You didn't play well not because the best players weren't playing.
Ferentz: At times we didn't, because of injuries, some of our best guys were hurt. Nonetheless, everybody's got to perform better. Coaches, myself, everyone, right on through. That's a challenge for all of us.
Q: I know, the potential for a Colorado game, the Big 12 championship game last year. So many people in the program right now probably want to get on with it.
Ferentz: Get on with...?
Q: Into next year.
Ferentz: If I detect anybody wants to get on, move on beyond this game, they won't be playing on the 30th. What we need on the 30th is everybody to be focused on playing their best against Texas. Really, I could care less, at least I'm speaking for myself and the staff. 2007, we'll handle that on new years or after the ball game. Our focus right now needs to be on Texas. If it isn't, that's where you can end up with one of those.
Q: I'd imagine that's a huge motivation.
Ferentz: I haven't even brought that one up, it's just in the back of my mind. If you don't show up to play against an excellent football team, it can get ugly. We're facing an excellent team.
Q: Do you ever use point spreads as a motivation, saying, "They don't think much of you guys, you're 11 point underdogs...?"
Ferentz: I've never said it that way, but I think we all figured it out, we're going to be the underdogs in this one. Whether you want to look at records or the tapes or whatever. I think our guys are smart enough to know that there probably won't be a lot of people picking us to win this one.
Q: What do you think of the progress Charles made at corner?
Ferentz: He improved, he's coming along. I'm still focused on our last time out and that's kind of the way coaches are. In college, you're only as good as your last game or as bad as your last game. The difference in the pros, it's what they project you to do, it's got nothing to do with what you just did. You could play great, they still think you stink and you're out of there. You're going to stink. We've got to get better in all areas. We didn't play really impressively in any area in that last ball game.
Q: Did Klinkenborg exceed your expectations this year, given everything that's happened to him? He seemed he was a real steady performer.
Ferentz: I don't know that he exceeded them, because we didn't really know what to expect. Exactly. I think he really played well. He did a great job. Following a guy like Abdul Hodge is no easy task, he did a good job. Not only in terms of his production but also in terms of is communication with the team. Getting us in the right calls, checks, adjustments. It's a cerebral position, so he really did a good job there.
Q: Have you made any position changes in December?
Ferentz: Nothing in ink right now. We've fooled around with some stuff, but nothing in ink at this point.
Q: Has Shonn Greene worked on defense?
Ferentz: He's worked over there a little bit. We're taking a peak at it.
Q: I don't know if you've had the meetings yet this year where you meet 1-on-1 with guys?
Ferentz: It's usually after recruiting's finished.
Q: What do you expect to get out of those?
Ferentz: Probably what we get every year. Just some good, honest discussion. It's an opportunity, basically, for the players to share things with me that they thing are pertinent and important. I hope they will. I'm typically very candid with players too. It's just a chance to get on the same page a little bit, 1-on-1.
Q: If Vernon and Ettore are done, what does that do to the DT position down the road? Do you kind of have to look for somebody this year, beyond that?
Ferentz: It's hard to fabricate, because Ettore's situation obviously happened Sunday, so at this point in recruiting, it's hard to dig guys up. Especially good defensive tackles. It's like finding a seven-foot guys in basketball. It's hard to keep those guys a secret. The good news is that we have three proven guys in there that'll be juniors next year. We've got time to work and develop. If you study it, most of our best defensive linemen have come from other venues. They've traveled and ended up in that group. Like a lot of situations, the guys where my sister can say, "That guy's a good defensive lineman," usually go to a couple different schools I our conference. We've got to figure a way to come up with some guys, we'll figure out a way.
Q: How's Rashad Dunn doing?
Ferentz: He's doing OK. He's working there, he's doing OK.
Q: Ettore's is a knee cap?
Ferentz: Yeah. Patella problems. It's just terrible, you know?
Q: Your heart has to go out to a kid like that.
Ferentz: Oh yeah. It's the worst. Injuries, that stinks. Sprained ankles are one thing. That term ‘routine surgery,' it's routine to someone else. There's no such thing as a routine surgery. Any time anybody has to go through surgery, that's hard.