Post PSU: Kirk on the Side Q&A

The Iowa Hawkeyes rallied back from a nine-point fourth quarter deficit to knock off #3 Penn State 24-23 in one of the most memorable games in Kinnick Stadium history on Saturday. Head Coach Kirk Ferentz spoke with the media after the game, and here is some of what he had to say.

Q: What was the conversation like with Murray kicking that last ball?

Kirk Ferentz: Pretty much what I just said, we talked about it, Lester and I, and I think the nod was towards experience. No more than that.

Q: When did you make the decision?

Ferentz: We had them both warming up to start the drive, probably somewhere around midfield. Not knowing where it would end up.

Q: Have you ever been involved in such a lopsided affair with regards to the time of possession in the first half?

Ferentz: I am sure I have, but not a six point differential. That is the amazing part. But I am sure I have been involved. I remember the bad times more than the good ones. So yeah, I have been involved in a lot of lopsided first halves.

Q: What went into the call late in the game for Stanzi to throw it, down inside the redzone? Penn State was probably expecting a run.

Ferentz: Great call, the roll out.

Q: Did Rick take another step forward?

Ferentz: I am hoping. The next step is to eliminate those turnovers. To his credit, it doesn't seem to bog him down. That is two weeks in a row where he has had some tough moments, but he comes back to fight in that fourth quarter and that is a credit to him and with more experience we can eliminate some of the plays that hurt us.

Q: What was Derrell like during the week this week?

Ferentz: Like he has been every week, I haven't seen any radical difference. He has been the same guy each week. The ball came his way today and he did a great job with it. It's like Murray, he got an opportunity and came through. That is what it takes to win.

Q: Did you see what happened on the center-quarterback exchange?

Ferentz: No. I am totally frustrated, to be in our 10th game of the season, that is a play that you hope you can execute in junior high. We are not quite there yet. It's been a few games since we have had one.

Q: How important was Sash's INT?

Ferentz: Every play is important in retrospect. We were in a good situation at that time, it was 2rd and forever. But still, we would rather have possession now as that is one more play for us. We didn't run the risk of them having a field goal.

Q: Are you a big pep talker to kicker before a game winning attempt?

Ferentz: I didn't say a word. He knows what he is supposed to do. He also knows I know nothing about kicking.

Q: Jeremiha Hunter said he might have gone to PSU if you hadn't wanted him to play LB, as PSU wanted him to play running back. What did you see in him?

Ferentz: We thought he was a good prospect, a good athlete and a great attitude. I am not sure who our running backs were that year. We saw him as a linebacker with good athleticism. He is a young player, this is his first year starting. To his credit, he has improved each week and we are playing good team defense overall, and he is a part of that.

Q: How bad did this team need this breakthrough win?

Ferentz: To win a close game is important for us, which had to happen at some point. Then to also win against not only a ranked team but an excellent team, it's important. It's important to the program and hopefully important to our season, but we have to make sure that it is. If we drop the ball the next two weeks, it won't mean a lot. What we need to do now is take something out of this and keep pushing forward.

Q: Are you one of those coaches that can't watch a game winning kick attempt?

Ferentz: Yeah, I watched it.

Q: A lot of guys on the sidelines turned around.

Ferentz: I have tried that with our opponents, and what I have discovered is that it doesn't matter either way. But when our guys kick, I watch them.

Q: Shonn went over 100 again.

Ferentz: I can't imagine many players at their given positions playing any better than Shonn Greene, in the country. He has been the same guy each week. We knew those yards would come tough, we all knew that. The seams were hard to create and they tackle well, play great defense. It was a credit to Shonn, he kept coming back and fighting. He is one of our team leaders, besides being an excellent football player. Guys that are tough and play as tough as he does, they start as great leaders.

Q: How did you come out of this game, injury wise?

Ferentz: Pretty good. Tony might have strained a muscle again. I think that was it. You feel bad for Tony.

Q: Was Seth OK?

Ferentz: Yeah, he did. He gutted it up. I never would have predicted that two weeks ago. That is credit to him.

Q: When was he a ‘go'?

Ferentz: He might have been able to play last week, but it would have been ugly. We opted not to. I am not saying he looked great Tuesday, but he looked decent. HE looked pretty good on Wednesday. He told us that he was playing and not coming out. That was music to our ears. You have a senior who has invested time and is experienced, you need every edge.

Q: Talk about that call that Ken had with Rick late, the last pass? You must totally trust him.

Ferentz: You have to. That has been our mode of operation. Whoever is on the field, we trust them. That is the way it goes. The danger would be to lose yardage. We didn't want to lose yardage. That was a huge play for us.

Q: Talk about Shonn's blitz pick up on the last series.

Ferentz: That is the other part about Shonn. It's easy to focus on his running, but he has blocked well. That is why I say he is a team leader right now. Players respect players that do their jobs well. Part of being a running back is blocking, and Hampton does a nice job of that too which is surprising for a young player. But Shonn is not looking to come out in those situations. He is not going to let the team down.

Q: The margin of error seems small for this team.

Ferentz: Yeah, that is us. That is typically us. There have been years where that hasn't been the case. The good news is that when things do come together, and does what they are supposed to do, and played with resilience, something good can happen.

Q: Murray had some other options coming out of high school. What got him to Iowa?

Ferentz: You know, I don't know. I am not sure other than I think he liked our program. He wants to be an Engineer, and he felt great about that department. Those two things combined. I think he wanted to kick in the Big Ten. We are glad he is with us.

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