Indiana Pregame: Kirk on the Side Pt. 1

Kirk Ferentz spoke with the media on Tuesday after his main press conference. Listen to what he had to say about the 4th-and-inches play against MSU, Ricky Stanzi, fullbacks, tight ends, and more in the first of two parts of his weekly "On The Side" feature.

Q: Do you trust Ricky enough to deviate, take more risks?

Kirk Ferentz: Like what kind of risks?

Q: I don’t know. Draw outside the lines a bit. I imagine like Drew did.

Ferentz: That was inherently Drew. Pretty much whoever put on the field, we have faith that they’re going to run the offense as we hope. I think he’s done a pretty good job with it.

Q: So you’re saying you don’t trust him to deviate?

Ferentz: I’m not clear on what deviate means. There are things that are built in. We have a lot of flexibility in our system, and he’s been exercising that.

Q: Are you talking progressions?

Ferentz: Options before the snap.

Q: Is that a hard thing for a quarterback, the pre-snap reads?

Ferentz: It’s easy for me, I’m watching film and it’s easy. If I’m standing on the sidelines, I’m like everyone else, why’d you do that? It’s like any other position, you ask players afterwards what were you thinking, what’d you see? If you have an opinion, you share it with them. It’s part of the deal. Once you give them the keys to the car, you have to trust them to drive it. You just hope the driver’s ed course was beneficial.

Q: Is he tied to a certain receiver on pass plays?

Ferentz: It depends on the play. There’s a progression on everything. If you only have two receivers in a route, then it makes it pretty easy, which some plays do, some have 4 or 5 guys, it’s a degree.

Q: Option routes?

Ferentz: Yeah. Most times. If you only have two receivers in a route, a heavy play action, I could probably make those decisions. Once you get beyond that, it’s a bit more complicated.

Q: Is he starting to see a defense, anticipate a defense?

Ferentz: I think so. That’s reflective of a guy that’s been around for three years. He thinks pretty well. He can always improve, every player can. It’s an ongoing process.

Q: Every quarterback has strengths that way, one way or the other.

Ferentz: He’s not deficient, if that’s what you’re asking. He’s doing fine.

Q: What’s his comfort level with certain things you’ve been getting to him so far?

Ferentz: You’d have to ask him, he seems to be doing fine.

Q: You’re talking about options on plays, the 4th and whatever it was, the pass to DJK that lost three yards, was he the first option on that play?

Ferentz: No, obviously. That possession got lost on third down, we missed a very makeable play. Those are the ones that kill you. When you blow makeable plays, it puts you in a tougher circumstance. There wasn’t a lot open on that fourth down play.

Q: Let’s go to the last play.

Ferentz: I figured that’d come up. We didn’t convert, what else do you want to know? Our execution could have been better, I’ll leave it at that.

Q: A broken play?

Ferentz: Our execution could have been better.

Q: A fullback running right, for example?

Ferentz: Our execution could have been better. I’m not big into getting into details.

Q: You called timeout right before that play.

Ferentz: Yes.

Q: Did you see something when they went to the line?

Ferentz: I was concerned about what we had called?

Q: A sneak?

Ferentz: No, it wasn’t a sneak. I was just concerned.

Q: That being said, are you being more active in the offense? You ran down to call timeout at one point.

Ferentz: That had nothing to do with the offense, it was just circumstance, situation.

Q: Are you becoming more involved?

Ferentz: It’s been pretty consistent for 10 years, quite honestly.

Q: Do you know what play’s called?

Ferentz: I hope so. Those are real headphones.

Q: Sometimes you’re on them, sometimes you’re not.

Ferentz: I’m always on. You’re mixing me up with some veteran coaches. Those veteran guys take them off.

Q: His strength seems to be accuracy, he’s putting the ball where receivers can make plays.

Ferentz: Yeah, most of the time. Not all of the time. We didn’t on that third down. To me, again, everyone can see that play, it was just a play that we blew, that we could have easily executed. Those are the ones I’m more focused on. Tough throws are tough throws. Tough plays, defenses are good sometimes, too. They come up with calls, that’s just football. It’s when you miss the open plays , when you run off a good run and have a 15-yard penalty, whatever. Those are the things that hurt you, those are the ones that beat you.

Q: Have you taken enough shots downfield, do you think?

Ferentz: I don’t know. I’m not trying to be flip here, but I can’t remember many games where we came out… that’s a question on our checklist, I can’t remember a game where we said we threw it downfield enough. 10, 20, 30 years, that’s always one of the discussions, with the exception of Northwestern last year, we chucked it down there a few times. You always have that discussion, what if we did it 70 times a game and just hit 3 of them. You always talk about that. There’s some truth to that.

Q: Can you talk about the use of your fullback in the offense, now?

Ferentz: There’s downsides when you don’t, the percentages are down. I just talked about 9 sacks a game.

Q: Talk about fullback, you had basically a guard in Tom. Are you comfortable with how you’re using them?

Ferentz: In a perfect world, you’d like to use them a bit in the passing game, but in our offense, more times than not, they’re blocking, that’s the way it is.

Q: Do you want more flexibility?

Ferentz: Not really, I’m comfortable. We’ve had some good offenses. Edgar wasn’t real big in terms of touching the ball. We’re not a vintage west-coast team in that regard.

Q: You’ve used your TE in h-back type situations, is it a pure h-back situation?

Ferentz: We use them both ways.

Q: Do you find yourself passing to the h-back? I’m thinking of Brandon, he usually is that guy.

Ferentz: Tony’s done it too, Reisner’s done it a bit, too. It gives us some flexibility. With Chandler, we went a different direction, he didn’t lead up in the line very often, but we flexed him out, used him more as a receiver. You take the players you have, meld what their talents allow you to use them for. Use them in that way, a smart way.

Q: You’ve never singled players out for blame publicly. Is that you, something you learned?

Ferentz: I don’t know why you would. I don’t know why any coach would do that. If the players were getting paid and the players were irritating you, I could see that. Not that we haven’t had guys that irritate me, at times. The players aren’t getting paid. Right along those lines, I think one of the most ridiculous rules is player identification on penalties. I mean, you know, that’s great, you’ve got some guy who lost $100 in Montana mad at Joe Smith, the right guard who got a holding penalty that cost him.

Q: For college…

Ferentz: For pro ball, there are no rules, as far as I’m concerned. College ball, these guys are just working hard out there. They’re trying to go to school, they’re trying not to be in the newspaper. Why do we have to? I don’t get it.

CLICK HERE to read Part II

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