ISU Post Game: Kirk Ferentz Q&A

The Iowa Hawkeyes beat Iowa State 17-5 on Saturday before 70,585 rain soaked yet elated Hawkeye fans. The Hawkeye defense found a way to keep Iowa State out of the endzone despite horrible field position in the third quarter

  COACH FERENTZ:  First thing I'd like to do is just thank Zach Johnson, AEGON, everybody who was involved in the flood relief event yesterday.  Tough conditions for them certainly, but here's a guy I know is extremely busy and likes to be pretty low-key when he's back in Iowa.  To do what he did and bring a few friends with him, to come up with the amount that they did, that's just -- I think it's pretty representative of the kind of guy he is, and I think we're all lucky to say he's an Iowa native.

      Then after that, just we're thrilled with the win.  As I just said on the radio, lipstick or no lipstick, it looked pretty good to me, and we're just thrilled with the way our guys competed, played hard.  Like we said earlier in the week about that point spread, anybody making a spread like that really doesn't know anything about the series.

      Both teams turned out today, competed extremely hard.  It was a tough football game on both sides of the field, and just thrilled that our guys were able to come up with the plays that they had to make to come out victorious.  But it was a real hard-earned win.

      Credit to Iowa State.  They played extremely well and extremely hard, and we just feel great about being able to come out on top.  

      Q.  What made you decide to put Jake in?

      COACH FERENTZ:  Just the way the game was going.  That third quarter was a tough third quarter for us.  The field position in the one series was awful, and we were three-and-out, I think in six plays total.  Probably had less than ten yards of offense.  But it just seemed like the thing to do at that time.

      A couple things there.  Nobody is down on Rick Stanzi at all.  It was a tough circumstance for him to be in today, and we appreciate that.  I think he really practiced well.  I look for him to come back strong.

      The other point I'd bring up, I think just what we saw happen today in the fourth quarter speaks volumes about Jake Christensen.  He's had a tough week starting last Saturday.  He came out and faced the music like a stand-up guy would and should.  He did that.  It's been a tough week for him, I'm sure.  I haven't asked him, but I think I've been around him long enough and players long enough to understand that.  And I can just tell you this:  He probably had his best week of practice since he's been here, which speaks volumes about the way he handled a tough circumstance.

      You know, what he did when he went in there, not a huge surprise.  He made a great check obviously on that 3rd down that gave us the big run, and we executed it well up and down the line.  That was a big play in the game.  But it looks pretty subtle from the sideline or in the stands, but that's a guy being prepared and giving us a chance to have something good happen.

      Just really pleased actually with both guys. 

      Q.  Does his performance today take us back --

      COACH FERENTZ:  I'm not going to worry about that.  We'll worry about that tomorrow and worry about a lot of things tomorrow, including a lot of corrections.  We were just happy that we were able to win the football game and happy our guys competed the way they did. 

      Q.  How about Brodell's run?

      COACH FERENTZ:  Huge in a lot of ways.  First of all, again, you talk about individuals, you look at guys -- a guy like Andy Brodell has been down a tough road, too.  He's been down a very tough road.  For him to come back -- and it hasn't been easy coming back.  Starting in the spring he was out there practicing, and the guy just did a heck of a job.  He went out and performed, and it wasn't easy the first two weeks for him, wasn't easy today.

      But that's a senior player making a big, big play for our team when we needed one.  It's a result of his hard work and determination, a lot of times he could have turned it around a little bit, too.  But he just hung in there and did a fantastic job and I'm extremely happy for him.  Give credit to the other guys on that punt return team.  They did a great job.  They've been doing a good job all season long.

      The rest of that story is Iowa State has done a great job on special teams, so we knew that was going to be a factor in the game and we knew we'd have to be at our best there. 

      Q.  Classic bend-but-don't-break defense today really down in the red zone?

      COACH FERENTZ:  I don't know about that classic stuff, but I'd like to see us be a little stingier overall.  We certainly made some plays down there that were outstanding.  Prater made one there at the end, Troy Johnson was a step ahead of Greenwood.  Greenwood got torched on that back in whatever it was, 2005, I think, at Purdue.  Came back and he learned the next time -- or maybe it was Ed Miles, I might be behind on my guys.  So that was a good play by a guy that's coming off the bench, really a nice play there. 

      Q.  Was that a fast track coming-out party there?

      COACH FERENTZ:  Big-time there, and we came up with plays when we needed to, and it was tough all along.  The score is really not representative of the kind of game it was today. 

      Q.  Talk about Pat Angerer.

      COACH FERENTZ:  That's another guy.  Pat couldn't have had a worse year last year from a personal standpoint, started out with mono and then the injuries that he went through.  Pat was never Pat last fall, and understandably so.  So same thing; he came back in the spring, went to work, and really had a good spring.  He's had a good camp and certainly played well today and that was a big part of our win, too.  You know, it's good to see.  Those are good stories, great to see guys hang tough and have some success out there.  That's a good thing.  

      Q.  Were you worried that he started over Jacody today?

      COACH FERENTZ:  You know, Jacody got dinged a little bit this week in practice, but it's been fairly even.  As you saw, both guys played during the course of the day, and I can see that happening all season long.  Those guys are close, they're making good contributions.  We feel comfortable there, and same thing back at the strong safety position.  Diauntae Morrow stepped in, it wasn't for much, but when Greenwood had to come out, he jumped in there and did his job.

      Just as the level of play amps up here, as we knew it would start today, it's going to be that way the next nine weeks, we're going to need everybody helping us out, making contributions and being ready to go, including being in the huddle for the last kickoff of the game.  A little slow on that one. 

      Q.  How gratifying is it to watch the team run across the field like they do to grab the trophy and come out and celebrate that way?

      COACH FERENTZ:  I missed the celebration, but I'm just happy for our guys because it meant a lot to them, and I'm just happy that they're able to have some fun, have some fun afterwards.

      Again, we knew this was going to be a tough ballgame, and I'll make a prediction, probably the next ten will be pretty tough, too, when we play Iowa State.  That's just the nature of the game, and it's obviously more fun to be on the top side of it.  

      Q.  Anybody besides Prater and Johnson having an impact this early in the season?

      COACH FERENTZ:  You know, Troy Johnson I thought possibly because he's slowly and quietly really done a nice job and improved as a linebacker and he's been doing a good job on special teams.  You know, with first-year guys you're never quite sure how it's going to go.  The last couple weeks they've been in there, but it hasn't been real sticky.  Today there was no way to get in the ballgame and it's not sticky; every situation was that way.  So that's good to see, and that's going to help him down the road.  Like I said, you know, he thought the game was over there the last minute, and it hardly was.  That's part of the downside with young guys. 

      Q.  Shonn's rushing effort today, another 100-yard game, and he really seems like he sets the table for the offense now.

      COACH FERENTZ:  Yeah, as you saw today it was a lot tougher 100 yards than what we've had the last two weeks.  I think, again, it speaks highly to Shonn, another guy that was -- not having a tough time last year, he didn't have any time with us last year.  Two weeks ago I don't think he could have done it, but he's been working hard.  He's been working hard on his conditioning, trying to gradually get stronger as a player.

      You know, those were tough yards today.  They didn't come uncontested.  We're going to be a better football team if we can keep him moving.  That being said, I mean, just like Iowa State did today, they came in, at least from my vantage point, to set to try to stop him and slow him down.  So that's going to be a challenge, trying to make that continue.  But it was a great effort on Shonn's part. 

      Q.  Did your game plan change at all when the rains pretty much stayed away for the most part?

      COACH FERENTZ:  Not really.  We haven't played in the rain very much.  I'm not sure how much it changed.  The one thing about it, it's the same on both sides.  Probably the field is -- when you play on a wet field, a wet field is a wet field.  If the rain is coming down when you're playing then you've got a little concern about keeping the ball dry.  But the officials and all the guys on the sidelines did a great job of having a dry ball out there, so I don't think that was a factor. 

      Q.  The timing when you put Jake in, seemed like you gave Ricky every chance?

      COACH FERENTZ:  Yeah, like I said, that third quarter is pretty tough to evaluate because we had one series where we were three-and-out and the other series we were trying not to make a mistake there, a critical mistake, so we played that pretty conservatively, relatively conservatively, took a shot passing there.  But I mean, it's almost like it was one-half performance if you will.  I thought he did a lot of good things, so I'm not down on him at all.  I know he's not down on himself.  Jake was ready to go.  

      Q.  What kind of boost did it provide for the sideline when Jake went in?  Did it?

      COACH FERENTZ:  I mean, you'd have to ask our players, but I think our guys believe in both quarterbacks.  That's been my observation during the week and during the season.  Just to talk about Jake, the way he's responded to what happened last week, and Stanzi is one of the first guys congratulating him when he's coming off the field.  You know what I mean; it's two guys thinking right, and I think if they're thinking right, everybody else on the team is thinking right, too. 

      Q.  Do you think competition has made them both better?

      COACH FERENTZ:  From my vantage point it probably has, yeah.  I think it's a fair statement, I really do.  I'll sit here today and tell you I've got confidence in both guys, I really do.  A year ago we were feeling our way with a first-year quarterback.  He had a pretty tough outing, as our whole team did a year ago at this time.  I think we're further along there.

      And the good news to me is we're still a young team, they're a young team.  Both teams are going to get a lot better, I think, during the course of the year.  Today we had to respond and our guys found a way to do it. 

      Q.  Looking at who the opponent was, how important was winning in week three against a recognizable opponent?

      COACH FERENTZ:  You know, I'm not much for gauging levels of competition going into a game.  It's always hard.  It's hard to predict those things.  But the way it turned out, we didn't have to get tested an awful lot the first two weeks, so today we got tested every snap, and we did well on some, not so well on some others.  But the key thing is we responded in that fourth quarter.  That's part of the growth process for a football team.  We're going to have a lot more situations here in the next nine games, but it was good to get through today with some favorable responses.  We're going to see a lot of things, too, that we're going to have to do better.  

      Q.  When you guys sit on the sidelines for 11 minutes, the offense is in 11 minutes in the third quarter and they don't score, is that advantage Iowa?

      COACH FERENTZ:  I don't know.  I just -- like any coach wants to have the ball and then have a chance to advance the ball.  I don't really -- I mean, I guess the bottom line is if you don't give up points, that's all that counts there, too, but it's not much fun having the offense.  I'd like to have it the other way around, plus points.  Us having 11 minutes plus points.  But given the choice, I mean, it worked out okay.  

      Q.  You know you were watching the game, but did you ever worry that (Inaudible)?

      COACH FERENTZ:  Oh, yeah, just not that night, but when they started talking about surgery, and that good receiver up in Wisconsin, Swann, went through, and his was dramatic on film; Andy's wasn't.  That was the amazing part about it.  When you have to surgically repair something like that, that's a concern, and again, that's what I was alluding to earlier.  This has been a real hard road for Andy.  I'm not saying he's back 100 percent yet, but -- I'm not crying, but people just don't realize, most people don't, I think, the price guys pay to get out there and play.

      You know, a surgery, boy, it's a hard road back, and what he had to go through.  So to me the credit goes back to the individual guy that will stay the course and fight a tough road like that.  He's not the only guy, but it's really nice to see a guy go through some success or experience some success after that. 

      Q.  Fans pay real close attention to your record against Iowa State.  Do you?

      COACH FERENTZ:  Yeah, I mean, of course I do.  I have to pay attention to my record against everybody and then try to analyze what's good, what's bad, and go from there.  I think that's just natural, a series like this.  There's great scrutiny about this series, and it's a great thing for our state, period, just that the series has been recontinued and it's more than competitive right now.  Both teams have been fighting it out pretty tough the last nine years.  

      Q.  Now that you've seen them head-to-head, how would you evaluate Iowa State?

      COACH FERENTZ:  I'm not here to evaluate their team, but I can tell you coming into the game, on Tuesday I thought they were a much improved football team from a year ago in every regard.  You see that they've been training hard.  You can also see to me that their players are a lot more comfortable with what they're being asked to do.  Clearly last year I think they were in those infant stages, if you will.  And I think that's what we witnessed now.  I think their guys have a clear understanding of what they're trying to do in all three phases, and they're playing with great effort.  We saw glimpses of that, too, when they played Oklahoma extremely tough at home last year.  I think as impressive a thing as I saw them do is fall behind 21-0 to Colorado and then come back and win.  To me that's just a sign that they are more than on the right path, and those were the things that made me know that this was going to be a tough, tough ballgame today.  

      Q.  What about past week's qualifying Jake at practice?

      COACH FERENTZ:  Yeah, just again, I think it just speaks to the kind of guy he is.  There's two ways to go when it gets a little tough for you, and he answered with his actions.  He can give me dirty looks; I don't care about that.  But as long as he's answering with the right actions, that's all that matters.  I think that's really a commendable thing.  

      Q.  Did he give you dirty looks?

      COACH FERENTZ:  He probably did.  I didn't see him. 

      Q.  Is that one of his greatest strengths is mental toughness?

      COACH FERENTZ:  Yeah, and I'll tell you, you've got to treat all your players the same, but he's been through enough hard times, too.  Anyone that has to go through hard times, you like to see them experience a little success.  That was a huge check he made today, just a huge play. 

      Q.  Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates had a combined 12 yards rushing.  Is that a game plan that was looked at almost --

      COACH FERENTZ:  No, you guys know us, we just play team defense and hope that we're all there at the right spot.  I know one time, I can't remember if it was Austen or Bates, but one of them got outside on us there at one time.  That's part of the difficulty in preparation when you have a running quarterback; even if you're in a single-back formation, it's still a two-back formation, so it stretches you a little bit, gets everybody down there playing good team defense.  You hope everybody is on task every play. 

      Q.  (Inaudible.)

      COACH FERENTZ:  I'd feel a lot better about that than I would if they were allowing it.  But today it was huge.  It was really huge because a touchdown would have been big, the way it was going.  The field goal was big, but again, we came and responded.  We're doing a lot of good things on defense, and probably the good news is I think we can get better on a lot of things, defensively, offensively, special teams. 

      Q.  Do you feel like you dodged some bullets in the red zone?

      COACH FERENTZ:  We did, no question about that.  But that's the thing about football, too; it's tougher to score touchdowns inside the 20.  And the way we've played, if you look at our good teams, we've usually been pretty good down in there.  It's big to keep touchdowns off the board, and then if you keep them away from field goal range, that's even better.  But the big thing is keeping touchdowns off the board.

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