Kirk Ferentz: I think we are good. I still haven't seen summer school grades, but we have seen them through the players. Anyone that we were concerned about, it looks like we are in good shape.
Q: Any more news on the Clearinghouse issues?
Ferentz: That will take a while, but I am not concerned about it.
Q: When Nate Kaeding was a freshman kicker in 2000, he missed 8 kicks, then 4 the next year, then 3, then 1. You have not been in a situation with such a young and unproven kicker since then.
Ferentz: Last year, we were up and down the last two years. We are going to go through that a little bit. But I think that potentially, I think we have a chance to be good there. We will go through some ups and downs. Jason Baker did his junior year, and played great his last year. You have to weather that with young players, but I think we will be Ok
Q: You have not been shy about offering kicking specialists during your time as head coach, and now more and more schools are doing this.
Ferentz: It's an important position. It's one that's tough to evaluate off film. If a guy comes to a kicking camp, that gives you a better chance to see more about a player. That has been our philosophy. IF we like someone, we try to make a move and get them.
Q: Did the players have an extra spring in their step this offseason after last year's bitter taste?
Ferentz: I think things have gone well since we got going in January. Not every day is perfect, but overall, the guys are focused and I feel good about where we are at going into this period. The key is how we handle the next three weeks and the 12 after that. So far so good. I feel good.
Q: You have had offseasons where you have been the Big Ten champ, and you have won bowl games. How was this year different?
Ferentz: The opposite I guess. You tend to be reflective after any season. We study everything we do. It's like losing a game. You go back, you try to figure out what went wrong and what you could do better, what you can learn and you move on. The object is not to repeat it if you have a down game, or a down period, you want to improve and that is all we are trying to do right now. That is what we didn't do a year ago. Records are records and they are a byproduct of something more important, but it's what you do on a weekly basis and we came up short a few times last year. That has to be corrected or we repeat it.
Q: In your mind, what do you see out there now with your team that let's you believe that last year's problems won't happen again?
Ferentz: I don't know that it won't happen. We all have to be vigilant. It's not just what you see, but what you don't see too. What are we doing away from the building, in terms of preparation? What are you doing with your diet? All of the things that everyone knows they are supposed to do, how well do you do it. Those things are every bit as important as what you do on the practice field.
Q: One bad seven game stretch didn't make you change everything, did it?
Ferentz: Not at all. For the most part, we will look like the same team, but hopefully the same team when we were playing well.
Q: Are the changes in the offensive line two deep as much to keep everyone on their toes?
Ferentz: Common sense would tell you that Rafael Eubanks will be a starter, or have a chance and solidify that. That is his job. He wasn't able to play 12 games last year, and that is one of the challenges of college football. Can you play week in and week out. We had several players in that category right now. Guys that are starters need to demonstrate that they can be there each week. You have to be lucky, too. Those guys obviously have a good jump, but it's their job to use that to their advantage.
Q: What ever it was that caused you to refer to your team as playing as fat cats last year, is that out of the system?
Ferentz: I hope so. You can't do anything right with a sense of entitlement. It doesn't work that way. I have met very few people that are so talented that they can give a 70 percent investment and come out on top each week. Anytime you allow that thinking to creep in, you are setting yourself up for some problems. If we do one thing this year, I hope we appreciate what it takes to play well each and every week. If you do that, you live with the results. If you don't, its hard to live with in sports and life.
Q: Is that why a Devan Moylan story so important?
Ferentz: No question. He was wired right anyway, from the start. But what he has gone through, it was a very extensive procedure that he had done, it wasn't a sprained ankle. He knows what it is to lose time and it killed him to not be out there last year, and he had rehab. His appreciation for the game is sharper than the average player. Brian went through that. When you do that, go through an injury, you appreciate your chance and that is a real positive and something that will spread.
Q: There are a lot of players on the two deep with thin ‘playing' resumes. Does that bounce around your head?
Ferentz: I think it is exciting. I am not afraid of it. It's one of the great things about college football. I am not by any means suggesting we have another Bob Sanders on the roster, but Bob had some rough spots when he got in there. But he also brought something to the table, and some guys have that chance now, to bring something to the table for us. That part is going to be exciting. What we need is to have some great stories come out of this season. You always need that if you are going to have a good year in all phases of the game. A guy like Scott Boleyn, who did so many things for us on special teams. We need every piece of the puzzle to come together.
Q: You have a lot of newer faces, and Julian Vandervelde was a gray shirt….
Ferentz: The science of recruiting, right?
Q: How are you preparing them?
Ferentz: Julian has a very real opportunity here. He is right in the thick of it, that is the neat thing bout it all. Some of the other guys were more heralded than Julian. He is like Mike Elgin in some ways, the last guy in the class and all of that. He has some physical attributes that are impressive, and he has a mind where he can process information. He is mature, not in awe of anything right now. If he does start, I won't lay awake. He will blow a few things out there, but he has a very real chance. He will make the competition interesting.
Q: Do you remember the recruiting process with him?
Ferentz: We offered him, one of three schools. Fortunately he wanted to come here. We had never done that gray shirt deal til then. It was important for him to come here and we had some things open up last year and we invited him to camp and I am glad he did. From the neck up, he gives himself a chance. He has good discipline. I joked about him eating a lot of cheese fries on that recruiting visit. A lot of times some big guys have a hard time backing away, but he has done a great job. He has mental discipline that is uncommon.
Q: Some guys that came in with pedigrees, they are now in a position to play.
Ferentz: Those guys, they are in their third year here. Tony has played a lot and played well. We expect those guys to do it too. It's their time; that is why they came here. Realistically, third year on campus, and you have ea chance to be in the thick of things.
Q: Jake has played, but does he have the whole play book?
Ferentz: He does right now. But we will see how it goes during camp. We will tailor things a bit towards what he does best. I don't envision us being handcuffed there. He will have to learn some things on the fly, but he is not getting hall pass and he doesn't want one.
Q: Does he pass better than Drew and not run quit as well as Drew did?
Ferentz: How would I describe Drew; he threw better under duress at times, and sometimes we reciprocated and allowed those situations, especially in 2004. And Drew is an elusive guy. Jake is a pretty fair athlete, too. I think he will do fine on that stuff. He throws the ball well. He can make the throws. He is not a 6-4 guy, but I don't see any of that stuff keeping him from being successful.
Q: What kind of blocker is Brandon Myers?
Ferentz: Not bad. That is something he is working on. He was more of a basketball player, and those skills attracted us more than his football skills. I think he has improved there, and he might have been our most improved player back in December. He has made some tough catches in practice. He looked like a more well rounded tight end in December and that carried into the spring. I think he is in the ball park.
Q: It looks like you have to good runners at that position, guys with good ball skills.
Ferentz: We are glad they are both here. I think they can both do good things and we are counting on that.