NW Week: Kirk on the Side Transcript

Kirk Ferentz spoke with the media on Tuesday. Read what he had to say about the latest charges against Dominique Douglas, injury updates, recruiting, defending Northwestern, and much more in this premium transcript.

Q: What's up with Dominique?

Kirk Ferentz: I got news this morning. It wasn't good news, so there's not much to say.

Q: Is he off the team for good?

Ferentz: Right now, he's suspended. I guess, really, that doesn't change things. You can't double-suspend anybody. I'm just going to let it run its course. Obviously, just like the other situation, I'll see what the outcome is. Right now it's an alleged incident. We've got time on our side, I guess, we'll wait and see how things turn out. Certainly not a positive development.

Q: Gardner on scholarship yet?

Ferentz: Nah. You're not allowed to alter during seasons.

Q: You can't?

Ferentz: Once you're in school, you can't. We took him out to dinner instead... (laughs) Just joking. You can't do that. That's why I said "just joking."

Q: You were physically tired after that (tirade.) You were out of breath

Ferentz: I'm in awful shape right now. Terrible shape. By October, I'm not a picture of fitness.

Q: Did you get smacked coming off the field?

Ferentz: Nah, I got hit on the sideline, but not.

Q: The crowd, when the crowd came down.

Ferentz: Oh, afterwards, I'm sorry, I thought you meant halftime. I don't' think so, no. They had me surrounded pretty good.

Q: One of the referees got it pretty good

Ferentz: Yeah. I saw him afterwards, he was really hurting. I thought he was having a heart attack, I was scared. He got hit in the ribs, he said.

Q: The turnover story for you guys, it's mirroring 2004.

Ferentz: It's been a positive, one of the few positives.

Q: What is it? The defense? There are more forced fumbles than interceptions.

Ferentz: I wish I could tell you. It was a huge area of focus in the out-of-season, but we didn't really create any new drills. Maybe I should talk about more things, that's the bottom line. Obviously it was a huge problem a year ago. I thought that was the story of our season last year. It's a two-fold thing. It's takeaways and ball security on the offensive side. The good news is that we're doing better at it. We've been more opportunistic on defense, which is great. We almost had one more on Saturday. I don't know if you saw the TV tape of that one. We almost had one more.

Q: Has what you guys told Jake about not taking chances.. I don't want to say screwed him up...

Ferentz: There are times where I wonder if he's not thinking too much along those lines. Really, he's only uncorked the one on the right sideline, Indiana I think it was. Phew, wow. He really hasn't had many throws where you'd say, "Geez, that's terrible." I know you can do both. I think I heard that Brady is what, 30 and 2? I think I heard that. That's not fair to compare anybody to that, cruel and inhumane to enter that as evidence, but no question, he's trying not to hurt us, he's making that concerted effort not to hurt us.

Q: Is he hurting himself?

Ferentz: The whole thing is really fuzzy right now. We have so many things going on offensively, it's really hard to put your hands around the whole thing. I'm just saying that I've had that tough at times. Geez, I wonder if the emphasis on it might be in his subconscious back there somewhere, I don't know.

Q: On film, has he not made throws you wish he would have tried?

Ferentz: Occasionally. It's not a chronic problem. It's like anybody, there are always some things. We had a couple Kodak moments the other day. One was the throw down to James, we missed it by about 6 inches, that's where we're at right now. That was a clean play, our protection was good. Everything about the play was great, we were just 6 inches off. I walk in the house last night, and see the same play, not the same exact play, but the same play executed. There's a guy who's got.. How many has he thrown? That's what we're trying to get. When you make a couple of those, the whole world opens up for you.

Q: How do you gauge and how do you correct, how do you measure a QB's accuracy?

Ferentz: It's really tough this year, it's been a tough one. This has just been such an unusual year for us. It's just extremely hard. You talk about the injury thing in 2004, but it was a localized problem. To me, it's a different discussion. We've just had so many things going on offensively.. I don't mean this in a negative way, but it's hard to stand here and say that I know what Jake is as a quarterback, from a performance standpoint. I've talked about our team's attitude being so good, I've been so impressed with the way Jake's handled things. You talk about tough circumstances, at least we have good exposure to how he reacts to being in a mudstorm every time he's out there. His work ethic, his preparation, his demeanor, his mental toughness, all those things have been outstanding. I'm just really confident that if we can get our problems ironed out, our hotspots ironed out, he'll develop into a real productive guy.

Q: The fact that you have been so shaky in the offensive line, has that bought him more time than normal, do you think? You're not a big change guy.

Ferentz: I'm not wild about the term "Bought him more time." To me, you have to weigh all the evidence when you're looking at this thing, or anything we do. We try to look at everything that's part of the equation. It's really been hard to measure what he's been able to do. There haven't been enough times where he's been able to stand in the pocket and get his feet set or know the receiver is going to be right where he's supposed to be, make the right reads on hots. He's blown his share, just like everybody has. We've just got a lot more of those going on than in a normal year. It makes it tough to tally everything up.

Q: Can you get a sense if he's still confident in himself?

Ferentz: I think so. He ought to go to acting school. I know they have a good one at Northwestern. He's had to be frustrated at times. Statistically, he's been involved in some things that nobody would want to be involved in as a quarterback. He's realistic too, he knows what's going on. He's extremely mentally tough and confident in himself. That really impresses all of us, I think. He leads. He's a good leader. That's a huge attribute.

Q: The gap between 1 and 2, is it like it's been all season?

Ferentz: It's been pretty static. Again, it's hard. Once you get in season, you really never know until a guy's on the field. It's a bit like Donahue. There are some moments this year where... ok... one of those deals. That's sometimes part of the process. You have to look deep and you try and see things in people. Sometimes, patience, you just have to let things materialize and unfold. If they don't you address them. You've got to be fair to the people involved, too, and that's how we've looked at this whole thing.

Q: What have you been doing with Arvell lately, the plan with him going forward?

Ferentz: What week was it, 2 or 3 weeks ago? It was Illinois, out of Penn State, we moved him back to QB. That's our plan, except we lost those two guys for the Purdue game. We lost two guys during the week. That wasn't by choice, it was by necessity. He's back at QB. I think that's kind of the plan right now.

Q: You've only put the same starting lineup.

Ferentz: Don't even mention that... Please.

Q: Do you know how many times?

Ferentz: No, and I don't want to know.

Q: Three.

Ferentz: (laughs) that's higher than I thought.

Q: Can you clarify Klinkenborg? Which hand?

Ferentz: His right, I think, I don't know. It doesn't matter. Might academically, might take his scholarship back, won't be able to do his homework.

Q: He'll play against Northwestern?

Ferentz: He's cleared. He was cleared Saturday though, he got out there and couldn't defend himself. If he can't play effectively we'll take him off the field. We'll give him a chance. He can't further damage it, they'll have it protected, it's a matter of what he can tolerate.

Q: Iwebema's cleared too?

Ferentz: He's fine. He's ready to go. He got cleared on Sunday.

Q: Any change in the status to Everson and Satterfield?

Ferentz: No. I'll just interject one comment on that real quickly. I think I'm right in saying this, the suspensions could basically be a university suspension, an athletic department suspension, these are both under team suspension right now. We'll just leave it at that. Bring some clarity to that whole thing.

Q: Chaney, his football growth hasn't been stunted by the track stuff.

Ferentz: Track works, I think, as well as any sport. The track and football combination. Baseball is extremely tough. I guess Hughes pulled it off. I can't imagine the timing and all that. It's a tough one. That pitcher over at Notre Dame, he was pretty good. Track works out pretty well. You can combine. You can still train with our guys. Obviously we don't run them a whole lot. We don't, because he's doing that with him team. They work well together, a lot of guys going back, Tim Dwight, Bashir Yamini, Jeremy Allen. We've had a lot of guys that have done well.

Q: He was everything but a WR coming out of HS.

Ferentz: That was our plan though. Our vision of him was a WR. We recruited him with that in mind. Track, we were open to that. As long as they can handle their academics, not wear themselves out physically, I'm good with it.

Q: Were you aware of how he did last year?

Ferentz: I just know that Larry said he was one of the most impressive freshmen sprinters they've ever had.

Q: Fourth and seventh.

Ferentz: They're excited about him, I know that. Which means we're excited about him. More fast guys? I'm good with that, that's good.

Q: When you recruit a kid like that, do you know what kind of hands he has, or do you just take a chance?

Ferentz: Yes and no. We got to see him return punts and kicks, running the offense as a QB. You can tell he's an athlete and that he competed. He didn't look timid out there. That's good to see. He's not the biggest guy in the world, but he played hard.

Q: Do you toy with those guys in camp?

Ferentz: We flip guys around a bit, see what kind of ball skills they have. Guys that can't catch end up on defense, right? (laughs) age-old story.

Q: How do you keep a fullback happy?

Ferentz: He's like a guard, you've got to love the game. You've got to love the game and the physicality of it all. It's a hard-nosed position. It's fun meeting Howard Griffith, working with the Big Ten network, a great pro career. Talk about a hard way to earn a living, being a pro fullback. It's the same thing. Interesting story there, he was a walk-on. He did OK for a walk-on. He wanted to come here, that was the bad part, at least he told me that. It's a blue-collar position. You've got to love the game, the contact, which Tom does. It's an unsung hero position. Certainly in our offense, there aren't many that get the fullback involved with the ball. His first job is to be an escort for our back.

Q: As he ever come to you, maybe on the side or half-kidding when he's really not?

Ferentz: We tease him about it every now and then. He got a carry the other day, so he got one for the season.

Q: He was out in a route.

Ferentz: We tried to get it out there and blew the protection, naturally. He's been great. He knows the tour of duty. He likes it a lot.

Q: You made a comment on your call-in show...

Ferentz: You listen to that?

Q: Only when Tommy calls.

Ferentz: Tommy didn't call last week!

Q: You said you felt recruiting as going well.

Ferentz: We're upbeat. We're right in the middle of the game right now. Maybe not even to the middle of the game. The only other thing, I think it's fair to say that this is a record year for commitments, will probably be a record year for changes, too. It may look different here in the next couple weeks or months. It'll look like the game on Saturday, we'll ride it right on out till February. The early returns are good, the feedback has been positive, and it's just a matter of us getting our fair share.

Q: Frontrunners who commit, then decommit when things don't go so well then say, "I would like to come to Iowa." I think you've touched on this, do you let them re-commit?

Ferentz: It's like everything. We weigh each case individually. So much of recruiting is by gut feel anyway, you rely on your instincts and gut feel, knowing you're not going to be right one very call. We'll look at each case individually.

Q: You mentioned Klink will play as much as he can tolerate. Can you talk about the pain threshold that players have, different from player to player?

Ferentz: It's one of those things. Every injury is a little different. The first guy that comes to mind, big surprise here, is Bob Sanders. They'd cart him off the field, we'll see him in two months, he'd be back out two plays later. Matt Roth had a pretty high threshold too. Marshal Yanda. I understand he made some significant cash acquisition in the locker room a couple weeks ago. They hit him with a taser gun. A guy had a bunch of money sitting there. They gave him a taser gun, he thought it was like bumping into the fence on the farm, an electric fence. Didn't even stun him. Everybody's a little different that way. My guess is that if there's any way possible, mike will do it. It's hard to measure where that injury is going to be at that given point.

Q: Is it hard for players not to get looked down upon if they can't play with a lot of pain?

Ferentz: Ultimately, only a player knows how much it hurts. It's just the nature of the game. It's always easy to be tough when it's someone else's injury, more of a macho guy. If you're out there playing in pain, that's a different story. I think most of our guys, if they can do it; they're going to do it, that's how they're built.

Q: Is Mitch King Roth at a different position? Maybe not as flamboyant?

Ferentz: A little different personality there. Disruptive, yeah. I think that'd be the parallel. He's not Babineaux, he's not Roth, but he's a disruptive guy. That's a good thing, he's obviously a tough matchup.

Q: What makes him so tough? He's not the biggest guy in the world.

Ferentz: He plays with good leverage, good effort. Some guys just develop a knack of understanding how to take advantage of a guy's leverage or positioning. Matt understood that pretty well, Jonathan understood that pretty well. Mitch, it's impressive, when he moved to that position, just like Matt and Jonathan did, he picked it up pretty quickly. I mention Klug, some guys are more natural at it than others. I can't explain why, but Mitch took to it pretty quickly, and he's gotten pretty good results.

Q: When you look at Northwestern statistics, Bacher, drastically, when he goes down, they really lose.

Ferentz: The challenge is for us to get there. They're not dumb, either. They throw screens, quick stuff, move him around a little bit. That's sometimes easier said than done. If we can get there. When you can land one, it sure helps.

Q: Talk about Albert's class. 12 seniors this year, is that a record?

Ferentz: I'll have to go back and look, to me, it seems like a low number. I'd have to go back and look. Every one of the guys, I've said, they've made good contributions. They really all bring something to the equation and to the mix. They've been that way since January.

Q: If they're still here, they're probably doing something.

Ferentz: A lot of them have had a tough road. You look at Klink, injuries and things off the field, Albert Young, a few injury seasons, you go right down the list. A lot of those guys, Moylan has had his share of hardship. That's just an illustration. This is a tough game, it takes a real special person to run the whole race and come out with their degree. Every one of those guys will have their degree.

Q: What's Brian doing?

Ferentz: He's still waiting. He's waiting to see what happens and develops. Right now, it's short term. At some point, the question will be if he wants to try and go another camp. We haven't had that conversation yet. We will in the next couple weeks, but we'll talk about it.

Q: If he doesn't go to camp anywhere and has to get a real job, will he start coaching at the grassroots level, like a grad assistant for you?

Ferentz: I don't think here. We've got something on the board right now for him. He needs to get away like he's been away. He's been exposed to two different systems. If he wants to coach, that's great exposure right there, he's seen how two other organizations do it. I think that'd be probably the best thing for him to get off someplace else. He could take one of those 20 for 20 jobs, 20 hours for 20 grand and get the crap kicked out of him. Find out is that what I really want to do?

Q: He'd be a great recruiter for Bielema. (Laughs)

Ferentz: Don't worry about that. He does need parental approval.

Q: Do you like doing that from the standpoint that it gets him away from guys he was teammates with?

Ferentz: There have been exceptions. AJ Blazek did a great job. It's tougher for the individual to be at the same school. I've always felt that at some point, it's healthy to get in a different environment, be exposed to a different way of doing things. The downside of that is that if you get into a bad environment, you might as well stay where you were. If he can get into another place where they're doing things right, it's healthy. I know it's been good for me in my life to be around some other people that know what they're doing.


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