Indiana Pregame: Kirk on the Side Part II

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz began his press conference on Tuesday by asking reporters to make requests directly to him if they want to interview his coordinators. In this segment of his 'On the Side' press conference, Ferentz was questioned about offensive philosophy, why Ken O'Keefe seems to be a lightning rod for discussion and several other interesting topics.

Q: Do you cringe when you see other coaches singling out players?

Kirk Ferentz: That is their business. I don't even notice that.

Q: Julian took all snaps at guard last week; has he taken the job?

Ferentz: They are still competing. Rafael has been dinged up and hopefully he will have a good week. Raf played well against these guys last year, one of his better games. We are happy with Julian, he is making progress.

Q: Have you seen a good job out of the line this year?

Ferentz: I think the entire group has done some great things. They are progressing. We still have little details we can improve on. They were not involved in a sack last week, since they get trashed all of the time. There were none of their fingerprints on the sacks this week. That doesn't mean it won't change this week.

Q: Are there parallels between this team and 2001?

Ferentz: Probably. You could say between 2004, too. The difference is we won the close games in 2004, and that is the challenge ahead of us. In general terms, we are typically going to be more close game oriented if we are doing things well, than we are wide spreads. We need to learn to win close games.

Q: How much coaching goes into that, and how do you feel coaching wise?

Ferentz: It's huge. If we lost we can do better, if we win we can do better. Everyone shares in the responsibility. A better way to get your message across, teaching better and to communicate better.

Q: Is that a week to week thing?

Ferentz: Sure, day to day. It's what we think about.

Q: Ken O'Keefe seems to be a lightning rod for the fans for some reason.

Ferentz: Outside of the head coach and quarterback, coordinators are next. Given our circumstance now, it's the offensive coordinator. He is the same guy that was here in 2002, 2003 and 2004 and he is coaching the same way, kind of like I am. (Grunt)

Q: Critics would say your offense hasn't evolved.

Ferentz: Evolved like Wisconsin has evolved?

Q: (quickly inserted on the heals of Ferentz's answer) Penn State, they have evolved.

Ferentz: (Pause) They had a couple of losing seasons, too.

Q: I know, I am just saying they have evolved.

Ferentz: I am throwing it right back at you. I will just say this; it gets down to winning and losing. When you win, things are fine, when you lose, everything is wrong. It's about as simple as that. That is not far from the truth.

Q: People seem to want to have someone to blame.

Ferentz: I think that happens occasionally. I think that happens. Everyone wants a head on a platter. Not everybody, but that is common. There are a lot more vultures than eagles. I don't know how you build anything substantial when you operate that way (on snap judgments). There are people and organizations that do it. I have always been a stability guy.

Q: Why?

Ferentz: Our responsibility is to do our jobs. Ken does an excellent job and he wouldn't be on our staff if he didn't.

Q: The numbers show that the offense has been in the bottom half of the nation the last few years, and that is conservative. What are your thoughts on that?

Ferentz: Part of my job is to examine why those things happen. I will let you figure it out and do some research on it. That is college football.

Q: What parentage of the plays that Ken calls would you guess are actually run, and how many do you overrule?

Ferentz: A high percentage (of plays called that are run). He is the coordinator.

Q: You have said that the buck stops with you.

Ferentz: A small percentage (that he changes). The way we do it, during the week, is plan for circumstances and situations. It is a group effort on both sides of the ball. What we like in certain situations. Everything is mapped out and charted during the course of the week. You make adjustments. There is a certain percentage of things you have to adjust because of what they give you on game day. At the end of the day, everything goes through me. I am very pleased with the job that he does. We are lucky to have him.

Q: Are you liked minded in your philosophy?

Ferentz: Yes and no. I think our staff is very diverse. To me, during the week is when opinions get voiced, discussions result, and I would never want to work with ten people that think just like I do. We all have a common denominator too. We all share some philosophical parallels. You have to.

Q: What are those things?

Ferentz: I think you can figure those out. But again, we have been fairly consistent for ten years now. Some years we are better at it than others. I don't want to get into a long dissertation. All I can do is to compare the Big Ten over the last nine years, or eight years, move past the 2-18 start, we have done OK. I think everyone has had peaks, everyone has had dips. Almost everyone, two teams have dips that are not too low. You take those two teams out of the equation, and throw some in the pot and give me a comparative study and let me know what you think. That is how I look at it. That being said, we are always looking to do things better. We don't do research during the season as you might imagine. We are comfortable with who and what we are and the way we do things. At the end of the day, injuries can affect you. 2004 was a great example of that. I would argue that Ken and the offensive staff did one of the best coaching jobs I have ever seen that year with awful statistics rushing the football. And our offensive stats would fit in the bottom tier that year, but the objective is to win championships and that is our driving force. You can toss it up and say the way we do it is good, or you can say that Hawaii a year ago is the way to do it. If it wins you a championship, that is a great thing.

Q: When are you done game planning and scouting?

Ferentz: Generally, by the time we walk in Thursday, there is a very low percentage of things that change after that. We rarely add things at that point. Some things can come off the board. After we watch Wednesday's practice we are pretty much where we need to be.

Q: Are your 20 hour days Sunday and Monday? Scouting and game planning?

Ferentz: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are our communal working days.

Q: Is it you and Ken?

Ferentz: We sit down as a staff and go through the plan Thursday afternoon, usually about 12:30 if you want to know that. That is the last time things get cut out. We can still do it after that, but we are not tinkering.

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