Open Practice: Kirk Ferentz Q&A

Kirk Ferentz spoke with the media following Iowa's open practice on Saturday. Read what Ferentz had to say about injuries to Tony Moeaki, Trey Stross, Andy Brodell, Bryan Bulaga, and more as well as his thoughts on the upcoming season in this premium transcript.

Q: From an outsider's perspective, it looked like the offense struggled a little bit today.

Kirk Ferentz: From an insider's perspective, I would confirm that statement. At least it was a beautiful day, weather wise. It was a great day, weather wise. On a more serious note, today was disappointing offensively. We sure meet our share of mistakes defensively, to. Disappointing in the sense that we left the field Tuesday morning feeling pretty good. It was one of the better scrimmages we've had offensivelyin quite some time. Going back months and months and months. That was encouraging. Today was probably the exact opposite.

Q: So today was not indicative of the way the offense had been through most of camp?

Ferentz: Only time will tell. I thought we were really practicing well as a team, through Tuesday, maybe even Wednesday. The past two or three days have been a little discouraging. We've got work to do, there's no question about that. It was pretty evident today. What you saw today is probably a fair comparison to the last few days of practice.

Q: Is that normal?

Ferentz: I don't know if it's normal, I don't like it. I just know that you normally not happy in camp, too. I guess it's a little normal, but we really need to correct that. I don't know how many points we averaged last year, but if we practice the way we did today, we’ll be on the same path. We're trying to avoid that certainly.

Q: You guys are rotating a ton of guys today, how much does that impact it, and when do you start solidifying guys?

Ferentz: I thought we were on that path Tuesday, then just the way we practice the last couple of days, our whole team, really. If you took the top two deep and threw in our special teams, tops 46, 47 guys, a third of them I could put in ink. That leaves a lot of wiggle room right now. A lot of possibilities. It should be exciting to everybody. I'm not sure it is, and that's little bit of a concern. A lot of things are open right now, I would've liked to have been a little further along in the evaluation process at this point, but without seeing the tape from today, I saw enough to know that we have a lot of positions that are still open. First team and second team.

Q: Can you update the injuries?

Ferentz: Yeah, I guess if there is a positive at all, are only significant injury is Tony. Not to make light of an injury, but at least it was better than a high ankle sprain. What he has is very similar to what Jason Manson had a few years ago, so it's pretty predictable. He should be back here in two or three weeks, somewhere in that ballpark. That's good news I guess, it's significant, but not like a high ankle sprain or something of that nature that would be a little sticky.

Q: Did he have surgery?

Ferentz: He did, yeah. They repaired it, it's a very predictable outcome, I’m told. Jason's came right along, it's a fracture. Ironically that sounds funny to me to say that it's better than getting your ankle sprain. But in this case, it’s probably true.

Q: Is Brian Bulaga hurt?

Ferentz: Yeah, he is. He had a bone bruise, he incurred that Wednesday, I think it was. He was hopeful to go today, he warmed up, but he wasn't ready to go. We expect him back Monday.

Q: Trey Stross?

Ferentz: Yeah, he’s hurt. It seems like we have more guys out than in right now. I feel like we're back in spring, where we had more guys on the sideline them on the field. That's discouraging.

Q: Do you anticipate him for the opener?

Ferentz: I wouldn't want to predict. There is a chance, but based on history, couldn't predict that.

Q: Ballard?

Ferentz: We expect him back on Monday.

Q: Is it a hamstring with Stross?

Ferentz: I guess, it’s a leg problem, muscle.

Q: You seem tired of it.

Ferentz: We have too many guys out right now, no coach’s happy about injuries. There's nothing you can do about them, but that no coach is happy about them.

Q: If Shonn Greene your number one guy right now?

Ferentz: Yeah, I think at this point he is. I'm really happy with Paki, he works hard, hustles, he's doing a lot of good things there. Those guys are running one and two. We'll see what happens after that.

Q: Knowing what Shonn has gone through to get to this point, what was it like seeing him out there running with the ones today?

Ferentz: I liked it better on Tuesday. He was making more yards on Tuesday. A color blocked better Tuesday, he ran the ball very well. He's dragging a bit still, he’s not in great shape yet. He's not in game shape at least. He's been back for most of the summer, that was good, but he missed an awful lot of time. He still working his way back. All that being said, wheezing and do some really nice things in camp. That's certainly encouraging. That's an improvement from where we were in the spring. That certainly helps.

Q: How would you assess your quarterbacks at this point?

Ferentz: Some good, some bad, I guess. It's like what we saw today. They look good on some plays, then there are some places where we have to be a little smarter, play a little better. I would also like to see them get more help. It's pretty much like it was last year, from that standpoint.

Q: What about Jeff Brinson?

Ferentz: He did a nice job on Tuesday, and he had a minor injury. He should be back on Monday. We have about 12 guys coming back on Monday, that doesn't listen to on Saturday, though.

Q: Is Brodell in that category too?

Ferentz: Yes, I think they're expecting him back to. We might have a parade or a big party or something. This is really exciting.

Q: Place kicking?

Ferentz: That fits right in with what I said earlier. Tuesday was really encouraging, today was less than encouraging. Probably what all this means is that we need this next week to get better. We're in a race against time for our opener. We have two weeks to go and a lot of work to do.

Q: Are you concerned about where the team is?

Ferentz: I'm always concerned. I will preface that by saying I can't remember a camp where I wasn't, but all that being said, I'm concerned. We have a game scheduled on the 30th and we have 11 more right after it. We have a lot of work to do.

Q: How much patience will you have with the kicking game?

Ferentz: Until someone really distinguishes themselves, we’ll try to have a plan. We have a week and a half before the next press conference, so we'll see what happens. Everyday is important, we'll see how the guys do and go from there.

Q: With Amari, is it is a little different with Shonn, he played last year?

Ferentz: That helps. It wasn't with us, I don't mean disrespect to where he was, but it was encouraging because he didn't play the year before. It was important, for him to play last year, and play well. He's done some good things, he's raw right now and he's learning on the job, but for the most part he's been out there, which is good. He's getting better every day. He's right in the thick of it.

Q: How have you guys been dealing with the 40-second clock?

Ferentz: We have in our practice field, but it's not quite the same. That's one good thing about having the officials here. It gives us a little better feel to have a use that. It's basically Tuesday and today that the today's refused it. I think only the real thing that's going to be a factor is if you complete a long pass. If you are dragging down the field, you could become divine. He to be ready for that situation and having the officials here is good, but it's bad. We had way too many miscues and penalties on Tuesday. I didn't count, but that list looks longer than it did on Tuesday and that's not good.

Q: Jordan Bernstein looked like he tweaked a hamstring today. As he found out how serious that is?

Ferentz: I'm not sure. I think I've seen Jordan's picture on a note card, but I haven't seen much of him out here. We're frustrated that he has been able to work, he's missed a lot of practice time. We really haven't seen him tackle much at this time. That's a concern because that's a part of the game. Certainly on defense. Hopefully he'll get back and healthy.

Q: Is this the most important part of the year?

Ferentz: That's important because the last two or three days have been disappointing. If you waste too many opportunities, they're going to add up and catch up to you. It's like penalties, or anything else. We better have a sharp week, to have any semblance of being ready for game week to week after.

Q: How's the quarterback competition?

Ferentz: It's open right now. Don't think anybody's really solidified anything. Again, we have good competition and that's good. I think the whole group is doing a lot of things better, but were now ready to play yet.

Q: So you're no closer than you were two weeks ago to a starter?

Ferentz: Probably. We're probably in a holding pattern right now.

Q: How are the freshmen quarterbacks looking?

Ferentz: They're good. The whole freshman class has been impressive. We haven't done a lot with them, just basic plays when they're in there. But I've been really impressed with the two weeks exposure to them, the work ethic, attitude. They seem eager. We'll have some guys making contributions, out of that group. I think that's a realistic thing to have happen.

Q: Is Prater one of those guys?

Ferentz: He's in the ballpark, yeah. He's in the running. He's done some good things.

Q: Is there any chance either of the freshmen quarterbacks won't redshirt?

Ferentz: We'll see. There are three guys ahead of them right now. In a perfect world you'd like to protect them, but we're trying to win games too. If one of them were to emerge, another stumble, we’ll see. It's too early in the game right now to rule anything out in any position.

Q: Just to clarify something, you weren't insinuating that if you play tomorrow, that you don't know who the starting quarterback is right now?

Ferentz: It's a Jake. But it's a competition. I'll add to it, thank goodness we’re not going tomorrow. I don't know who we would schedule that we could compete with right now.

Q: Has Jacody solidified himself as the starter?

Ferentz: I wouldn't say that, I think those guys are competing pretty evenly. Tarp’s been hurt, another guy in that club that we haven't seen much of. It's been chair my, and Troy Johnson fighting that thing out. AJ's been out there every day, I think I know it got there. The other positions right now are open. They're both being contested.

Q: How about Adrian Clayborn, he really seemed to be fine to the ball today.

Ferentz: He's a young guy, who's really playing like an older guy. I'm not saying he's a AJ Edds a year ago, but he’s similar. He's had a good camp, he's been out there every day and working hard. He's got a great attitude, he's a bright spot. It's nice to have bright spots.

Q: Has Bruggeman won the center job?

Ferentz: I'm not ready to anoint anybody right now, but he's done a nice job. He's had a good camp and he was making a good move a year ago in the spring, and he's back in form right now. He's doing a good job out there right now. I think we know where he is, and that's a good thing.

Q: How’s left guard looking?

Ferentz: It's wide open. It's anybody's ballgame.

Q: You use the term wide-open a lot, off-season, before the season, today, yet I get the sense that you're disappointed a bit, there should be more gnashing of teeth?

Ferentz: Yeah, I'd like to see more heated competition. Somebody's got to step up and do it, that's what we're waiting to see right now. As a staff we’re going to have to make some decisions here in the next five or six days. The clocks running.

Q: Has there been any change with Blackwell?

Ferentz: No. We're still in a holding pattern. We'd really appreciate an answer, any day now. I think I got in trouble with this topic year ago, some going to be very guarded with what I say. I just wish there was a better way to get this stuff done, where, in fairness to the individuals, it has nothing to do with anybody at our end, but just for the individual involved. You put a young man in limbo, he suspended in the air right now, basically, is where he's at. It just seems like you could procure information a little quicker. I'll probably get in trouble again. I just feel bad for the individual. I think all of us in life know that there's nothing worse than waiting, or not knowing. It would be nice to get a he's in or he's out, so we can move on. For his sake, not for our sake. He's not a play for us this year, but just for the young man's sake, I would like for him to know where he's going and what he's doing. I know there are reasons why we can answer that right now. I just wish there was a better way to do this.

Q: Marcus?

Ferentz: Marcus is on home. He's going to go back to school in the East. That's my understanding right now.

Q: How is Spievey doing now?

Ferentz: Not bad, it was good to see him. He and Shonn we hadn’t seen. He's done a lot of good things. He's got a lot of work to do, but as I said a couple weeks ago, the difference is that those aren't guys just out of high school. I don't mean no disrespect to the high school graduates, but is different. They know their way around a little bit better, they have a little bit more familiarity with what we're doing. He's in the competition, there's no question about that. Now it's into his hands about how quickly you can get into great shape and how quickly he can show us that he really knows what he's doing and that we can count on him. That's his test right now. He's in the thick of it.

Q: Do you see Shonn taking a bit more of a leadership role since he does have a bit more experience?

Ferentz: Yes and no. Again, you didn’t really see it today, but he gave us a little juice and the running game, so that was pleasing. He's also just trying to get himself into shape. It's hard to really be a leader, it's hard to be a guy out front when you're just trying to, I don't want to say just trying to survive, but a shine to get into game condition, where you can compete at a high level. He's not there yet, but we'll get there. He's working hard, he's making every intention to get there. He'll contribute for us. He's got a good demeanor, he’s a football player.

Q: Any movement on the life skills position?

Ferentz: We're getting there. Getting there.

Q: This season?

Ferentz: Certainly before in Big 10 play.

Q: Moeaki won't play in the opener?

Ferentz: I doubt it, I don't want to say no, but I doubt it. It's conceivable, but I'm only going off memory with what Jason's rehab was. Probably not likely. If he's in doubt at all, we want to make sure he's healthy. The frustrating thing is that it was a really undramatic injury. There was nobody near him, just one of those things. Just one of those deals, you see things happen all the time, you wonder geez, how’d that happen?


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