Ferentz: Hawks Still Need Work

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz met with the media following Saturday's open practice. Ferentz said that his team still needs a lot of work, as they have just two more weeks of preparation before they face Northern Illinois in Soldier Field. Read all of Ferentz's comments in this Q&A...

KIRK FERENTZ OPENING STATEMENT

Kirk Ferentz: The good news is that the weather held out, and we didn't charge admission, so that is good. The biggest roar from the crowd was from a punt. Right now, we are a team that needs a lot of work, that is obvious and predictable for this point in camp. For the most part, we had a lackluster first practice, and the guys picked it up since then. Then we lost some steam Thursday of this week. It looked to me like that lingered into today. We did some good things, I will have to see the tape to get a grasp of that, but we are a team that has a lot of work to do, after two weeks of practice. What we need to do as a staff is reassess where we are, make personnel decisions and more importantly target what we can do well and get that practiced the next two weeks, because that game will come fast. The best news is that we are relatively healthy, outside of the two injuries I noted in the release the other day. But we have a lot of work to do.

Q: Where are things with regards to the offensive line right now?

Ferentz: No, we are not where we want to be, but where we expected to be. The big thing right now is that we will have to make some decisions this week. We will still tinker and after Wednesday, we have to nail it down how we are going to go. We have a couple possibilities that we will continue to look at. The injuries that have occurred that have kept guys out, Dace and Alex Kanellis being out, that has left us thinner than we like but we are making progress.

Q: What is wrong with Alex?

Ferentz: It's up in the air right now, he has had some significant headache problems and there is gray area there. Hopefully in the next week or two we will get some closure on that, but neither will be ready for the first game.

Q: Will Dace be back for the second, third game?

Ferentz: It's all speculative now, we thought he would be further along than he is right now and he hasn't responded, so we have opted to rest him. He may return this week. He has a quicker road back than Alex, because Alex is learning a new position.

Q: Is there a different attitude on the team at this point of camp compared to the same time last year?

Ferentz: I don't know. I thought we were pretty healthy last year. Our problems popped up in the second half of the season. For the most part, camp has gone well this year. We have lost steam the last few days. All in all, I think we are getting a lot of great work done with 16 workouts.

Q: Did kicker Austin Signor earn the #1 job today?

Ferentz: No, we will continue to evaluate that also. As I said earlier, it's pretty much the same, they both have potential, they kick it well when they kick it well, but they need consistency.

Q: Damian Sims was out today, Mitch King had his arm wrapped up.

Ferentz: Mitch has been nicked up a little bit this past week, but he has practiced every day, and we will get him back full speed. Damian had soreness in his foot, but if it was a game, he would have gone. Tom Busch the same way.

Q: Do you have any idea on which true freshmen will see time this year?

Ferentz: We have about eight or ten names on the board right now, and you saw a lot of them with the two's today. This week, we will look at it. By the end of Wednesday's practice, we need to hone in on who the guys are that look like they will be playing as freshmen, and all of our positions. We are going to need to be smart about reps after Wednesday and think about the game.

Q: Bryan Bulaga was out there, is he in the mix as well?

Ferentz: He is in the mix right now. He has been with the two's and doing a nice job. He has a lot to learn, like all the first year guys. For the most part he has been doing well and is handling the volume well.

Q: Paki O'Meara was getting reps, too

Ferentz: Paki has been doing a nice job. He's had a nice camp and we know what we have with Albert and Damian. We have been anxious to look at the guys behind them, which was one of our goals. He runs well, he plays tough. He made some mental mistakes, but he does some good things. We are encouraged about him. Jamie Murphy has done some nice things. Jevon Pugh has done a good job, too.

Q: Talk about Jake Christensen's progress.

Ferentz: He has practiced pretty well for the most part. Today, things were not clicking for us on offense, with the entire group. A tough learning day, but you need to have those. For the most part, he has done a pretty good job during camp

Q: The defensive line looked very solid today

Ferentz: That is our most experienced position. We are not deep at this point, so we have to work through that a little bit. We are looking at a lot of different guys behind the starters. That will be a part of the equation. We know our starters.

Q: You have said there is a lot of work to do; are things where you would like them to be two weeks before the first game?

Ferentz: Yeah, I would love to see everything look great. It's about where you would expect. But the big thing is now, this is a big week for us to pull a lot of loose ends together. As a staff, we need to take a little time the next 24 to 48 hours to be clear on the battles, and the next part is to figure out those players, and then what we can do to give them the best chance to be successful on the field. That is our job as coaches, to equip our guys with a plan they can handle.

Q: There will be a lot of analysis from fans and media that were here today; how much of the offense does the defense know, with regards to knowing what plays are coming?

Ferentz: That is a big part of practice. It happens in spring and fall. The defense, after about four or five days, they know your offense better than anyone does, that makes things a challenge. That is the way every year, everywhere, even the pros. You have to factor that in. I would caution anyone for being too judgmental where we are after 16 workouts. It would be great to look good in a perfect world, but I can't remember things being like that ever, unless you set yourself up for success in the scrimmage. It was a good teaching film.

Q: You said two weeks ago that you were glad to have the kids for three full weeks before school started. That extra week is about to begin. Do you still like how things are set up this year in that regard?

Ferentz: I thought it was from the onset. I really like having the three weeks. This is the only time during the 52 weeks of the year, where we have a chance to monopolize their time. When classes are going, your time is limited. You are down to 20 hours a week. We have a captive audience. You can't have them on the field all of the time, but you have time to have good meetings, a good learning environment, that is a good thing. The only downside is that you have the first week of class with the first game, and that is an adjustment. The younger guys are trying to manage their time and getting around campus, that can be exhausting. That is the only downside. I like the tradeoff.

Q: Did anyone stand out to you today?

Ferentz: I haven't seen the tapes, but our tight ends, they did a couple nice things. Some of the younger guys jumped up and did some things, looked like they belonged.

Q: Is the secondary coming along?

Ferentz: They are gaining ground. We are not sure at safety yet, we will have to nail that thing down this week too and figure it out. But the competition has been good, as has the attitude.

Q: People are always positive this time of year; would you admit it if you didn't think things were positive?

Ferentz: I don't know how positive I am right now, I am positive we need work. We need a lot of work this week and then kick it in gear for game week. We have the makings to have a decent football team, I think. That is not a concern, but we have a lot of work to do before we can think about that.


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