Kirk Ferentz: I think that is probably fair. We went through a tough stretch where we were playing well, but not well enough to win. The last two weeks have been better for us. The guys have invested a lot the last eight weeks and had a good preseason. This breaks up the schedule symmetrically and lets us catch our breath and get ready for a four week season.
Q: In your past experience with byes, do you scout Iowa as much as you will Illinois over the next two weeks?
Ferentz: I think that is a part of the deal. To me, bye weeks are like spring practice or preseason practice, where we don't spend any time really focusing on any opponent. We just work to improve some of the things we are not doing well enough and take some extra time to get attention to those areas. The other part is that it gives you a chance to give guys that are tired some rest, and some younger guys that are not so tired more work.
Q: A lot of us are just getting to know Shonn now. I am wondering how the year away changed him personality wise, maturity wise, and some of the lessons he learned from that experience that we went through? He seems better for it.
Ferentz: A year away is always disappointing for anyone, but I think you can also make it work to your advantage. Shonn and Pat Angerer; Pat was on the team, but he had a horrible year injury wise, setback after setback. Rob Bruggeman missed last year with an ACL repair. I think any time a player is forced to back away from football for whatever reason, in generalities, I think they have a deeper appreciation for what they missed, or what they were not able to participate in. They come back maybe a little bit hungrier and more determined.
Q: Were Shonn's biggest challenges physical or mental? He had to lose some weight, and has he exceeded expectations?
Ferentz: I don't know that anyone could have expected him to play like this. I thought Aaron Kampann would play well in Green Bay, but I didn't think he would be a perennial all pro. Shonn is playing in the backfield as well as anyone I have been around. His biggest challenge was the physical conditioning. When he was ineligible, he was not allowed to train at all in our facility on our campus. He had a lot of work to do when he rejoined the team and to his credit he has worked extremely hard. I think his time away showed in September, but he has turned the corner now and is in excellent physical shape.
Q: What will you tell Shonn at the end of the year as far as discussing his future?
Ferentz: I think that will be the appropriate time to visit about that. We have had players that have had decisions in the past. After the 2002 season, both Robert Gallery and Dallas Clark had decisions to make. One guy opted to leave and one stayed. It worked out well for both people. When the time is appropriate, and this is premature, the season needs to play out, then we will all sit down and hopefully have a lot of good factual information, have an intelligent conversation. At the end of the day, I want for Shonn what I want for every player, what is best for him.
Q: What are the one or two things that make Shonn special?
Ferentz: I would start with his attitude. That strikes me above everything else. Backs come in all sizes, shapes and speeds. I have been around backs that have been different builds and have been successful. To me great backs have great determination. When I think about Shonn Greene, that is where I start. He is extremely determined on the field. He has a very aggressive attitude and those are great traits for any position player.
Q: What is Seth Olsen's status?
Ferentz: Sprained ankle. Still sprained.
Q: Will he practice this week?
Ferentz: He won't practice this week at all. You know….we will see how it goes. Sometimes they come right back and sometimes they linger and we will hope for the best. It's unfortunate. You have to see anyone get hurt, especially a senior. HE has been playing well and he has worked as hard as anyone on our team. Hopefully he will be back, if not for the next game but the games after that.