Purdue Pregame: Kirk on the Side

Kirk Ferentz spoke with the media on Tuesday after his main press conference. Read what he had to say about Mossbrucker, Murray, Stanzi and more in this premium Q&A transcript.

Q: What's your philosophy this week regarding placekickers?

Kirk Ferentz: We'll just see how it goes. We feel pretty good with both guys, actually. Compared to where we've been, that's a positive now.

Q: Trajectories, did that figure in with the decision?

Ferentz: Yes and no. More than anything, it was just the situation, that exact situation, experience was probably the biggest factor.

Q: How hurt was Daniel when he lost the job at Pitt? I heard he screwed up an ankle in practice, it was swollen.

Ferentz: He was disappointed. He didn't like the news, certainly. Jake didn't like it, Trent didn't like it the other night. That's exactly how you hope a player would respond on the front end. The other thing is that you hope they keep working hard. I can promise you that we wouldn't have put Daniel on the field if he hadn't been practicing well with a good attitude. The same thing with Jake, it's almost a parallel with the two of them. I can't say enough about what Jakes' been doing, too, behind the scenes, practice. You see him working the sidelines on game days, he's been great. When you have the kind of thing going, it's a healthy thing.

Q: When you called timeout with 6 seconds… The conventional wisdom is 3-4 seconds.

Ferentz: I got caught up in the heat of the moment, it cost us a second.

Q: You've had a few guys that have had to come back, who have lost their jobs. Why is that this year?

Ferentz: We have healthy competition in a lot of spots. That's a good thing. It's keeping everybody sharper, probably.

Q: This year it seems you've done that more. Is it totally a product of competition or last year's situations?

Ferentz: We said in the out of season that everything is up for grabs. It's remained that way. The good news is that the guys aren't going out by default. We've been in that situation, too. That happens sometimes, injuries or whatever. Guys are working, improving. When I talked about Next Man In, Next Man Ready, we've had some good illustrations of that this year. Someone said that Bob (Sanders) said ‘next man in' on TV.

Q: Yeah, he stole it.

Ferentz: Hey, I stole it too. You steal everything. You think I thought of that? I'm a football coach.

Q: Mitch and Matt, I'm assuming you've never had two guys that have 90 career starts between them.

Ferentz: I can't remember anything like that, ever. Especially at that position. You have two guys playing right next to each other, they work together at that position, the way we do things. They have to know each other's moves. It's like the guards having to know what a center's doing. It's kind of a near dynamic that way. There's a lot of parallels between the two guys. They're self-made players, working extremely hard. They didn't have eight stars by their names when they came out, but they've both worked extremely hard. As different as they are, they're the same in that they're just hard-nosed guys that work hard and are smart football players. They really know what's going on out there. It may sound funny, but good defensive linemen know what's going on, and they do. It's great. They've been a delight in every way.

Q: Talk about how Kroul, a Mt Vernon guy, UI football in his face all his life, how do you from being a fan of and wanting to be there, to it becoming a reality for you.

Ferentz: A lot of guys have walked that path. It always fascinated me in the 80s how the team was constructed. Just because of demographics, we can't have a roster that's 85% native. I wish we could, that'd be the greatest thing in the world, I think. We don't have that luxury. The thing that grabbed me in the 80s was when I thought about how it seemed like the heart and soul of our team started in Iowa. I don't care what year you look at in the 80s, there are some real strong leaders in-state. Growing up with it, understanding and appreciating it. IT's important here, because so many guys come from across borders, they help share some things with other players, get them to feel a little quicker what it's all about.

Q: You talk about being gone, you've been here 10 years now. Do you miss the pros?

Ferentz: No. Not really. I've enjoyed every job I've had. I had a great time at Worchester Academy. I bet I had 3-4-5 calls from Worchester Academy connection people, connections with that, that's the neat thing about coaching. That's 30 years ago. People from 30 years ago, going right down the list. I've enjoyed every stop I've had. Most of the time.

Q: How about Pitt people?

Ferentz: You might assume they were happy. (Laughs)

Q: You probably don't rank these things, but where does a win like that sit?

Ferentz: You'll have to catch me in the off-season or when I retire. It was just an excellent day. Unfortunately now we're moving on. Fortunately, unfortunately. Fortunately, actually. We'll have time to enjoy it down the right.

Q: Is it different moving on from a win like that?

Ferentz: I think every week has its challenges. I've said this before, I think handling success in athletics is tougher than failure. That's another challenge for our team this week, another test.

Q: You said the reasons why you shouldn't let it linger, but what makes you confident that it won't?

Ferentz: I'm not confident that it won't. We have to be proactive, just like I wasn't confident last week that we could shake off a tough loss, a last-minute loss. Those are the challenges you face during the season. Teams that handle those challenges well tend to do well. The teams that can't handle them are up and down. That's not a good thing to be.

Q: What did you see in Brandon Myers when he showed up at your program?

Ferentz: Here's another guy, another good story. His biggest attribute was his ball skills. They showed up better on the basketball court. He'd been in our camp, we were impressed there, ball-skill wise. But I think the level of achievement he had in basketball was really extraordinary and it really sold me as much as anything. It's like being a champion in wrestling. In our state, that really factors into the equation. We mentioned Matt, but Brandon's had to work extremely hard, because he's more of a passing-game type tight end when he got here. Now he's got a real balanced game, which is a complement to his work ethic both in strength and conditioning as well as his willingness to learn how to block.

Q: He got that needed half-yard a couple times on Saturday.

Ferentz: Big time. Those were big time plays. To convert like we did the other night, it takes protection, it takes the QB getting the ball to where it's got to be, and the receiver knowing where they have to get. They were challenging it in the passing game. He had a full night blocking. They're varsity up there. He really did a good job.

Q: Didn't it go down to the wire with him and UNI?

Ferentz: It did. We got in the game late. Shame on us, I guess. Fortunately it worked out.

Q: Wasn't there a point where he almost picked those guys over you?

Ferentz: Yeah.

Q: How'd you get him then?

Ferentz: I don't know. You'd have to ask him. I'd make a wisecrack, but I better not.

Q: A couple of your seniors out there went from walk-on to scholarship, talk about this week.

Ferentz: Starting with Bruggeman, we've had those stories so many times. For us to have a good team, we need stories like that. Rob's a great story. He's not only playing at a high level, but he's also giving us great leadership, and it gives the other guys confidence up there.

Q: Now that you're safely off the hot seat for a while.

Ferentz: It's funny, I just flipped the papers this morning, it's probably not your design, but that's a sign of the time. You might as well just put 116 people on that page. Realistically, you might as well.

Q: Your name's going to start popping up again. It did this weekend. How do we respond?

Ferentz: A week ago I was on the hot seat. Let's see if I survive the hot seat, then I might be on the ejector seat. Is that good? An ejector? A catapult? What's it called when you go to another job? The catbird?

Q: You said this senior group isn't a big group, but it seems like with Mitch, Matt, Rob , Seth, it's the heart and soul of this team.

Ferentz: Andy Brodell, another good story. A lot of good stories in there. TO make it through a senior year, it's a tough road. People don't realize how tough it is. You look back last year, Hum pal, the price he paid, Albert Young, Mattison, not many guys get through here without some kind of injury that takes them off the field. Too often, surgeries, things like that. Academic rigors, etc. I've got tremendous respect. Even more respect for seniors that don't play prominent roles. They're doing it for the right reasons. It's a bit easier to hang in there when you're out there playing. You've got a guy like Austin Postler who's been out here for 4-5 years, a great job of coming to practice every day and hoping our team being a good football team, like the Will Lack story a few years ago. I have great respect for guys that do that.

Q: How many practices has Kroul missed in five years?

Ferentz: I can't remember but I think I remember reading somewhere he missed 1 or 2. It's really minimal. It's the Bruce Nelson story, in a lot of ways. Matt came with a scholarship. Bruce never missed a game, that's a pretty good story. Doesn't happen often.

Q: What role did Spievey have in the spring? Where did you have him figured?

Ferentz: We hoped he'd be in the competition. We also hoped Jordan would be on the field practicing in the spring, but he wasn't because of health reasons. We thought he'd be in the top 4, then it was just a matter of how things shook out. Jordan was hurt during camp, and he took advantage of that opportunity, got in there, and secured a position.

Q: Is he re-learning, or did he keep it in his memory bank?

Ferentz: He had a little bit of a foundation, but I wouldn't call it a real strong one. He's really done a good job. I understand he didn't show up on Saturday (after the game)

Q: No, he showed up against Illinois. He shows up.

Ferentz: He's a quiet, shy guy. Does he ever say anything?

Q: Not much.

Ferentz: He's a quiet guy.

Q: Bradley Fletcher's the same way.

Ferentz: Don't wait for them to give a speech. It isn't going to happen.

Q: If Mossbrucker would have kicked…. (would we have been able to talk to him?)

Ferentz: That's what I meant when I said experience. We want someone who could be interviewed, should he make it or miss it. Then we give him a chance to be interviewed.

Q: Every one of your back 7 starters has an interception this year. That's an oddity.

Ferentz: It's a good thing. We've had a lot of interceptions, which is great. I'm all for it.

Q: Is it just the pressure? You don't have a whole lot of sacks as a team.

Ferentz: I can't tell you, other that we're playing coverage a bit better. That stuff is film study. I showed them a play last week from another team where a guy saw a play action and ran right to where the ball was going. Our guys did a good job that way.

Q: There's no leash on Ricky, you're all in with him?

Ferentz: As far as I know. It's like I said two weeks ago, there's a learning curve here. I'll be a lot happier when we quit turning it over. If you'd told me at halftime we'd turn it over twice on our first three possessions and win the game, I'd have said absolutely no way. I'd have been tempted on that one, lost a lot of money.

Q: There were some passes that should have been picked off. What is that conversation with him like?

Ferentz: We coach him like we coach everybody. He's got a job to do. It's like a missed block, a missed tackle. You have to get better, you have to improve.

Q: He has some security, but…

Ferentz: I don't have security, why should anyone else have security? What about a player hot seat poll? We need that. You guys focus on the coaches.

Q: You guys don't want any of those. Writer hot seat?

Ferentz: Nah, we're not that smart. We expect him to improve. Guys do good things, then they do bad things, too. A QB's laundry is all out there to be viewed, that's the biggest difference.

Q: What's he got in him that's allowing him to play like he is in the fourth quarter?

Ferentz: I can't tell you. He's a resilient guy, I'll tell you that. He's working his tail off, he's got all the attributes you want. I just know that we can't expect sustained success if we keep turning the ball over like that.

Q: That third down call rolling Ricky against his body, that's a pretty gutsy call in that situation.

Ferentz: Ken made it. It was a great call. I heard talk about going left. I can't remember where I heard it, someone relayed it to me, but Bill Walsh spoke at one time about a quarterback being able to roll right and left. If you practice it, you should be able to roll either way and throw proficiently. We expected him to do that and he did a great job. A really nice pass, a great reception. A huge play.

Q: Have you spent 10 seconds in the last 3 days thinking about what life would have been like for you if Murray had missed that kick?

Ferentz: Yeah, somewhere in there. At least 10 seconds. Not many more. We've had some of those moments. We've got some experience in that bank, too.

Q: It would have been more than just losing, but it would have been "Why did you do that?"

Ferentz: That's the world I live in. If you're charged with making decisions, you make them and move on. I'm not saying there aren't moments where you beat yourself up a bit, but you can't do that for too long, otherwise you know you're going to have a hard time making decisions, that's how it worked. I've blown my share of calls, that's for sure. Recently and long-term. You do what you do.

Q: What was your conversation like with Trent, or did you have one?

Ferentz: We had one. I just made sure he understood why we did it. I also assured him that I believe he'll have a lot of great moments in his career. He's an excellent kicker and I'm really thrilled he's on our football team.

Q: other than the turnovers, has Ricky answered your questions, arm strength, poise in the pocket…

Ferentz: He's doing a lot of good things, nobody's questioning that. He's like every other player where there are certain things he can do better. The way you get better is improve on your weaknesses. That's the fastest way to becoming a real high-level player. That's where his focus has to be. It's really no different than anybody else on our team.

Q: Going forward, the kicking job is still open?

Ferentz: I really don't know what we're going to do. We'll see how the week goes. The good news is that we have confidence in both. We went from a situation not knowing where we were at in the spring, to feeling confident right now that both guys play an important role. I threw a depth chart out here, but flip a coin. I think we're in good shape right now.

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