PSU Week: Kirk on the Side Transcript

Kirk Ferentz spoke with the media on Tuesday after his main press conference. Read what he had to say about late play calls, Tony Moeaki's injuries, DJK's gag order, the Greene-out and more int his premium Kirk on the Side transcript.

Q: Does Moeaki do anything wrong? Does he lower his head?

Kirk Ferentz: It's just bad luck, I think. There's nothing he could have done. Go back to the Wisconsin one. If he saw that play on tape, he'd say it was a routine play. He just fell wrong. How do you screw two things up on one play? That's bad.

Q: You're an expert on the spread, what's the HD spread?

Ferentz: They just look like a good offensive team to me, they run, throw, mix up their personnel groups.

Q: Saturday, three times, twice Rick had to call the time out because the play was late, and once you got a delay of game, what's the process?

Ferentz: At least two guys signal the play in, and we've have trouble in the past. For whatever reason, he got stuck on some things. We'll keep working on it.

Q: The play goes from Ken to the guy signaling it in, to Rick.

Ferentz: Yeah. Like a lot of teams.

Q: Is it frustrating?

Ferentz: Yeah, but we're playing with a bit of an inexperienced quarterback, that's part of the learning curve.

Q: He was just getting stuck picking up the signals?

Ferentz: At times, not always, but at times. I couldn't tell you why.

Q: Do you guys examine that after the game?

Ferentz: Oh yeah. He just said he got stuck.

Q: Do you have to simplify it?

Ferentz: We've been doing the same thing for a long time. It'll come around.

Q: Ideally, how much time do you want to have left when Rick's going to the line?

Ferentz: Enough time to get out of a bad situation, if you have to.

Q: Is it more frustrating when he goes up there with 5 seconds left and still gets the snap?

Ferentz: It could be risky, could be dangerous.

Q: Stross was starting over DJK, what lead to that?

Ferentz: Based on practice. They'll both play, nothing major. He started the game on Saturday. Not in that personnel group, but it depends which team we have on the field.

Q: DJK hasn't been around us since the hat and glasses thing, is that still hanging in there? Is he being punished that way?

Ferentz: Didn't you get him after the game?

Q: No.

Ferentz: Did you request him?

Q: Yes.

Ferentz: Hmm. OK. You have him after the game. I've taken him off the Tuesday list. Working on his dress code. That's not what we're looking for.

Q: He'll be at suit and tie in media day last year?

Ferentz: Wouldn't surprise me.

Q: This season, he's been up and down. He's basically a sophomore playing a new position.

Ferentz: He's got a learning curve. Just like Andy Brodell did, a lot of guys. He's improving. I think he's improving.

Q: How about the whole receiving corps?

Ferentz: Everyone just needs to keep working, hopefully working.

Q: Is DeMarco Paine around?

Ferentz: Yeah, he's just not playing a prominent role right now.

Q: Does someone need to, in the receiving corps?

Ferentz: Andy's emerged. I'm all for everybody. We have confidence in all those guys, Trey, Derrell and Colin, those are our top four guys right now. We have confidence in our tight ends. It depends on where the balls go.

Q: Does not having a second option at receiver a little difficult when they stack the line?

Ferentz: We have a second option. We consider our tight ends a big part of our pass game. It's not like we're trying to not throw to Derrell or Trey, it's just how the defense plays dictates where the ball goes.

Q: Are those three your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th receivers?

Ferentz: It depends on what personnel group we're in. I think all three of those guys do a real good job in the pass game. We think our receivers are OK, it's not like there's anything wrong with that group.

Q: Where does Mitch rank among your defensive linemen?

Ferentz: He's played at such a high level for so long, he's playing phenomenal football this year. Matt's not far behind him. Mitch is a flashier player, but they're both playing at a high level. If you want to have fun, just take any game tape and watch Mitch perform play after play. I could say the same thing about Matt. He's more of a craftsman, Mitch has a little more flair to him, but they're both playing really well. DTs don't show up in statistics as much, but you don't see them just get blocked clean very often.

Q: The best you've had here?

Ferentz: Yeah, he's really playing well. We've had some good ones. Roth played pretty well, Babineaux is pretty good, you go down that list, Colin Cole, Kampman wasn't bad, we had a bunch of guys. He's really played at a high level. Matt's not far behind him. It's been a delight to have him.

Q: Is Mitch in the NFL mold?

Ferentz: He's going to have to be with the right team. I'm not saying he's Jonathan Babineaux, but it's a bit like him. There are a lot of teams that couldn't draft him based on what they do. If you need a 330-pound guy inside, that's not going to be Mitch's deal.

Q: Is that a 3-4 thing, the 330-pounder?

Ferentz: Jacksonville, they play big guys. Some people, philosophically, the Vikings do it, too. There are other teams that don't. There's a circle of teams that play with more Jonathan Babineaux-type guys. The boards that he was on, that's where these guys would appear, too.

Q: How does PSU compare to the 2006 OSU team that came in here?

Ferentz: Yes and no. The way they do things is very different. From where I'm sitting, it's probably because we're playing them this week, these guys are even more impressive. That was an awfully good team. It's hard to figure where they had a weakness. Going into the season, we thought their defense might be rebuilding or re-tooling a bit. But they were playing better than the year before, which his hard to imagine. Offensively, they had two number-one picks at receiver with Ginn and Gonzales, who was one of my favorite players in our conference over the past decade. A Heisman-trophy quarterback, and a pretty good running back, and NFL running back, and a young guy running the ball who ran by our bench, I was like "holy crap." I think his name was Wells. This group, to me, is very comparable, I think. Were they #1 when they came in? You're looking at the same kind of challenge. That game, too, the mistakes we made, they made you pay for them. When you play a team like this, if you make mistakes, they're going to nail you on it.

Q: How difficult is it going to be for Shonn Greene to keep his pace against this PSU team?

Ferentz: They're not going to just let him take the ball and run. It's going to be a great challenge for all our guys blocking. Not just our linemen, but our tight ends, receivers, fullbacks. They're going to make it real tough on him. They're going to try and make us throw the football. We're going to have to be balanced, we can't figure we're going to line Shonn up and hand to him all day. They're not going to let us do that. We have to play within ourselves and hopefully execute a bit more proficiently than we did the other day.

Q: Against an aggressive defense, is there more of an opportunity to get the ball to Shonn on swing passes, things like that?

Ferentz: We're looking for ways. They're aggressive, but it's not like they're a big blitz/dog team. They don't have to be, they get so much pressure from the front four. I'm not saying it's the same, but I remember Dallas in 1994, that was a different scheme, but similar in that they could rush four guys and really disrupt you. It's a nice way to play defense, with 4 guys rushing. It's a different scheme, but a good comparison, everything had to be right there, offensively.

Q: Is this going to be the biggest challenge that Shonn faces, individually?

Ferentz: It's fair to say that this is as good a team as we've played, that's for sure. Statistically, if anyone is playing better defense in the country, these guys are giving up 11 points, under 100 rushing a game, and it's going to be a heck of a challenge for all of us.

Q: Considering how difficult it will be to play against the PSU defense, how impressive would it be to see Shonn get that 100 yards, moving him into top 3 all-time for a single-season at Iowa.

Ferentz: I'm all for it. I'd like to see him get 200, but that's not going to be easy, nothing's going to be easy this week. We just have to play well as a team, offensively. Hopefully he'll get his share of yards, too.

Q: What kind of test is this going to be for Calloway?

Ferentz: It's a test for everybody. Those guys move around. Those ends are as good as any, they rotate six guys, three inside, three outside, and there's not a weakness there. You have to be on top of your technique every play. If you have a flaw on a given play, chances are it's going to get exposed. It's really that way for our whole football team. We all know that going in, starting today when we look at the tapes. If that doesn't sharpen your sense of attention in practice, then you're not using your head.

Q: Does Ricky going into this game knowing that he has to play very well for you guys to have a chance?

Ferentz: I hope he thinks that way every game, that's his job, just like all of us. First of all, we have to protect the football. Turnovers against this team could be catastrophic. That was the story of the game in the Ohio State game, a young player doing a bit too much because he wanted to win the game. He's going to be a heck of a football player, but it's a young football player mistake that ended up being the key play in the game. Everyone is going to have to be at their best.

Q: With a young player, getting up to the line late, what would the problems be?

Ferentz: If they're bringing a front or stunt pressure that doesn't match with what you have, you don't have much of an opportunity to get out of it. You want to have enough time to get out of a bad play. There are some plays that you could call ‘safe' plays that are bulletproof. You don't have a lot of those.

Q: I remember Drew, he'd oftentimes look at the sidelines and…. he was Drew. What was the problem then? Nothing could probably happen fast enough for Drew, most times.

Ferentz: That's a good guess, yeah. The good thing about Drew was that if he didn't get it, he'd just call a play. He wasn't lacking confidence, that's not all bad. Rick will get there.

Q: How often did he do that?

Ferentz: Not that often, but it happened.

Q: One time, a touchdown, I think.

Ferentz: Yeah. He was no dumbbell. That's part of QB, too.

Q: Does Ricky have that?

Ferentz: Not yet, but he will, he will.

Q: How does a guy decipher that? It's like landing on an aircraft carrier.

Ferentz: It's not that tricky on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, but when you're thinking about just getting nailed by this or that, that's the trick, I think. Things are a lot easier during the week when it's more sterile. You might have blown a play, you're thinking about that. I was going to say RG, but I'll lay off the guards a bit. Other positions have time to regroup in the huddle, but QBs don't have that luxury. That's one of the challenges of playing that position. They've got a few more things they're responsible for. To say they're just another guy on the team, that's not quite fair.

Q: I know you're a huge detail guy, do you have the backup guys practice their signals?

Ferentz: They do it, routinely. Everybody does.

Q: In a mirror?

Ferentz: No, I mean with each other, meetings.

Q: Who does that, on Saturdays?

Ferentz: We had a couple guys. Any guys that are QBs, since they have to know it anyway, it's typically how that works.

Q: Do you change them each week, to keep from stealing signs?

Ferentz: It's like baseball, you have indicators, if you have three guys doing it, one guy's live, two are dummies, you can change your rotation. If people are watching, make it a bit trickier for them.

Q: Nothing's happen yet to where you'd re-examine how that works? That's the first time it's poked its head up.

Ferentz: It was a tough environment, but so was MSU. That's part of the process.

Q: You talked about Morelli last year, it seems, I don't know if it's coincidence, but when Ricky's played well, the team's done well.

Ferentz: Depending on what you're asking a quarterback to do… what's a good way to state this… you go into a game saying that this what you expect from each position, a QB is no different, you control what it is that he's going to be responsible for. It's fair to say that the more he can be responsible for, the higher his proficiency, good teams have that, typically. The less you give him, that's more that someone else may have to be doing. That's the beauty of experience. Again, I tie it in with Penn State. They have a team that really clicks. They have a quarterback that's a first-year player, but he's not a young guy, he's been there four years. He knows his way around the block, he's very talented. Just take it and run with it. I'm not saying it's a Brad Banks story, but it kind of is. It's his first year playing, but he's coming along and just playing it really well. It hurt at times on Saturday, it hurt earlier in the season on a couple things, but I know he's conscientious, he cares, and he's working to make sure any mistakes that take place don't occur again.

Q: Most QBs go from "not losing games" to having to win them, is that true?

Ferentz: The first thing you have to do is not lose. More games are lost than won. That's an old cliché, but it's true. Hopefully you evolve to a place, they've got a lot of guys on that team that have evolved to that stage, the receivers are a big part of that winning. They're a great illustration of that.

Q: Jayme Murphy OK?

Ferentz: Yeah. He's doing better. We were watching it.

Q: Is he cleared?

Ferentz: Not yet, but we expect him to be at the end of the week, so we expect him to be at the game. We may have to start being more judicious with what roles we carve out for him. The kickoff team thing seems to be a reoccurring thing.

Q: He's had three or four (concussions?)

Ferentz: He's a full-throttle player. This one, we feel was caused by when his head hit the ground, not from the contact, actually, from when he hit the turf. He can't win for losing on that one. We've changed his role on the kickoff team to take him out of the direct hits, but he's more of a side-to-side player now.

Q: Does he get the Bob Sanders treatment in practice, where he can't hit anybody?

Ferentz: We don't do that on kickoffs, live. I learned that lesson when Quinn Early got his shoulder knocked out.

Q: The red zone offense, does your play calling change?

Ferentz: You have to. You have to have a different plan, the field is so different. You have to alter your play calling.

Q: Have you altered the alterations? It was smooth for a couple weeks. That was probably one of the more frustrating things.

Ferentz: It's an ebb and flow. Third down, +20, those are critical areas.

Q: Obviously, Shonn should be making his money down there.

Ferentz: Yes and no. As you might imagine, everything gets condensed. It's not as easy to gain those yards down there.

Q: Is Ricky more fixed in the play call down there?

Ferentz: How do you mean?

Q: Is he stuck in the play?

Ferentz: He's not stuck in the play anywhere on the field. There are certain situations, but in general terms, he's got the ability to get us into something better if it's evident.

Q: Is there any key, am I missing something on red zone offense?

Ferentz: No. It's a challenge. The field's condensed. Not a lot of room down there.

Q: Is it fair to say that that's part of the reason for the four losses, the red zone offense leaving points on the field?

Ferentz: We've talked about that, turnovers, red zone, and third down, start right there. It'll be that way 10 years from now. When you win, you're doing well. Last year, we were 10 of 17 on third down against Illinois, we had the ball 35-minutes. Our time of possession can be misleading the other day. Our third downs were good last year. We didn't score many points, but we sustained drives. It was an array of short ones, long ones, but when you're doing that, you increase your chances of success.

Q: Are we forgetting something? People criticize the play calling, why don't you throw a screen, whatever. Does a defense pick up a notch or two?

Ferentz: Most teams do. It's a challenge on both sides of the ball. Everyone has to pick it up because it's all the critical situations. That's where you win and lose. Third and short, third and long, red zone.

Q: What's your philosophy on defense?

Ferentz: You're trying to keep them out of the end zone, use the field to your advantage. The sideline hasn't missed a tackle in the history of the game.

Q: The top 3 rushers in the country, you guys had been recruiting all three of them.

Ferentz: I guess I hadn't thought about that.

Q: How far did you get with them?

Ferentz: Not too far.

Q: You didn't get them on campus?

Ferentz: Donald Brown came out in the summer time, he and his dad, if I recall.

Q: What do you remember about those guys in particular?

Ferentz: They were good players. As you know, there are a lot of good players. It's interesting to see how guys evolve. A big part of it where they choose to go, or what they choose to do. How they end up, wherever they end up, the system they involve themselves with.

Q: You hadn't noticed that those are 1-2-3?

Ferentz: I knew Brown was up there, I'd heard that, but I guess he didn't get 100 last week? Someone said he didn't make it. I knew he was having a good year. Obviously Ringer I'm familiar with. I know our guys better, the guys in our league.

Q: Greene out, black out, did you have anything to do with that?

Ferentz: Not majorly. Although the black out, not that it was prominent, but during the ISU game, after the ISU game, our blackout kind of got rained out, if you will. It was a multi-colored thing, for obvious reasons. After the game was over, I thought it might be good, since we lost out on one, rekindle that. I think the Greene out thing is a great thing. It's more student-driven, and I think it's great.

Q: Do you think it's too much singling out of one guy?

Ferentz: I'd tend to go the other way, but that being said, Shonn has been unaffected by all this stuff. There's been some talk, and I think he's handled all of it well. He realizes what his role is. He's a guy playing real well, just like Mitch. It's a bit more incumbent with the position he plays. If you're a QB or RB, people are more apt to be magnetized by that. It's not as easy to get drawn to a defensive tackle. I understand that. It's all good-spirited, and a nice show of support by our students.

Q: You don't expect "king for the day" for Purdue?

Ferentz: Ohhh, that's good. I hadn't even thought about that…

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