Post Illinois: Kirk Ferentz Q&A

The Iowa Hawkeyes lost to Illinois 27-24 Saturday on a 46-yard field goal with under :30 seconds to play. It was a crushing blow to an Iowa team that had rallied back from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit to tie the game, which included a two-point conversion. All of this on a day where Iowa's first four trips to the redzone resulted in three field goals and one missed attempt.

Kirk Ferentz Opening Statement

Illinois deserved the win, it was a tough loss for our team and we competed hard. We didn't play well enough at all times to win the game. We played and competed hard in the fourth quarter after a tough stretch in the third quarter. It was a tough loss, and losing is never fun. I see a lot of positives in our team with the way they responded. It will hurt for a while and get back to work tomorrow.

Q: Was the inability of your redzone offense in the first half with scoring touchdowns the difference in the game?

Kirk Ferentz: Anytime you are getting field goals instead of touchdowns or no field goals, and the other thing we did we picked off a ball at midfield and turned it back over to them. Missed opportunities, that will get you. We have been down this road before, tight games and tough losses. Those things show up.

Q: Why did Shonn not take any snaps on that 15-play drive?

Ferentz: It was planned. We rotate our backs and we were planning on putting Jewell in. He has done a great job and is running hard for a young guy and he is protecting the ball. Shonn had to come out at one point and got back in there. We are comfortable with both of those guys.

Q: What did you think about your fourth quarter comeback to tie it?

Ferentz: I think it speaks volumes. That was a tough situation, we had given up the offensive touchdown on the sack, fans were going crazy. Things were looking pretty bleak. If there was a positive today it was how our guys responded, and they have responded all year through good and bad times. We saw some growth today at quarterback. There were some things happening fast for him but he did a great job leading us to some points in the fourth quarter.

Q: What happened on the missed field goal?

Ferentz: He missed it.

Q: Was it a bad snap or something?

Ferentz: No, he just missed it.

Q: How tough is to come back and tie it only to lose on a late field goal?

Ferentz: That is football. They put 60 on the clock. It was a great comeback by our guys and I don't think we let down our focus at the end. We answered with a few good drives and they came back and did what they had to do and they made a great effort on the field goal.

Q: Did you feel good with the game in the defense's hands the final two minutes?

Ferentz: Our defense has been playing well and we did today. We gave up one big play. I liked our odds in overtime. They did a great job moving the ball at the end. That was not a gimmee field goal.

Q: Shonn is the only running back in the nation to go for over 100 yards in the first nine games.

Ferentz: He continues to impress everyone. He shows up each week. He practices well during the week and he competed real hard today like you would expect. Illinois tried to minimize him and they did a good job of that. The yards came tough and Shonn is playing at a high level.

Q: You had to be pleased with the defensive line play.

Ferentz: Those guys up front have been doing a nice job, Mitch and Matt compliment each other.

Q: What was the difference in game?

Ferentz: When you lose close games, you can always look at missed opportunities, giving up the big play, things in the kicking game…we played pretty well there, but we had a couple obvious miscues. When you lose a close game, you can find 15 or 20 things and we will do that tonight or tomorrow.

Q: Was there a breakdown in coverage on that 50 yard touchdown pass?

Ferentz: We didn't play good team defense. It was more than one person involved there. You hate to give up those kinds of plays and we haven't given up many this year.

Q: How is Wes?

Ferentz: Anytime you have a stretcher you worry about it. He dislocated his hip, which I guess is extremely painful. He is on his way back to Iowa City.

Q: Was this a step forward or backward for Stanzi?

Ferentz: There were some tough plays and situations. That third quarter was a quarter from hell for an offensive team, and he came back in the fourth quarter and we had drives. That says a lot about him and the team. It was a learning day.

Q: Is it frustrating that this team is close to have done something special this year, but has four losses by a combined 12 points?

Ferentz: It's frustrating, losing is never fun. That is football. What we need to do is keep learning from these situations and we have some film to look at and we will keep pushing forward. This team has been great to coach and is a lot of fun to be around. They lay it out there for you, and Illinois did to. It was a good college football game today and we came up short. It's frustrating, but there are still three games left.

Q: Did you get what you wanted out of your defense at the end? They had a tackle for loss right before the field goal.

Ferentz: It was like Minnesota in 2004, when Greenway shot through there and made a play and they missed it. That was a great kick, it wasn't a chip shot. Our guys gave great effort trying to make the block. But they got the ball in the air and put it through there.

Q: Did Illinois going no huddle at the end keep you from making personnel changes?

Ferentz: We mixed our personnel groups; we had time to do that.

Q: Was it bye week rust for the offense in the first half?

Ferentz: We will never know, there is no way to measure those things. It might have had something to do with Illinois playing well, too.

Q: Was it a case of their bowl hopes flickering and them needing it more?

Ferentz: I think the game was important to both teams. We have bowl hopes, too. It's important to us as well. I would like to think both teams had a lot at stake and both have to keep playing.

Q: Is Shonn's ankle an ongoing thing?

Ferentz: I think he is OK. We had a couple guys nicked up. I think everyone is moving in the right direction.

Q: How is Seth Olsen?

Ferentz: That is good news. If you would have asked me a week ago, I would say it would be sticky. He worked midweek on. He is not 100 percent but he is further along than I would have expected. He has a chance.

Q: It seemed like Mitch put his foot down in the fourth quarter.

Ferentz: Mitch is a great football player, a disruptive player and determined. Both he and Matt are giving us great leadership.

Q: Is he playing at a higher level than last year?

Ferentz: I think he is a good player who keeps getting better.

Q: How disconcerting was it to see mistakes being made today that you were making during the losing streak? Penalties, turnovers, etc?

Ferentz: Our opponent had something to do with that. When you lose close games, those things get you. Up until our kickoff, I don't think we had a penalty. I think that was our first one of the game. That is football. You have to be able to make plays in tight situations. It is competitive, and the rest of the year will be that way

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