Q: Talk about Mitch's effort. He was held today.
Kirk Ferentz: It looked that way from the sideline. You can't worry about things you can't control, either as a player or coach. Mitch has drawn his share of attention all season long, probably for a couple seasons, because he's so active and slippery. What you do is you just can't focus on that, you focus on trying to get home, keep working, keeping digging. He's done a good job of that, it paid off today.
Q: Those guys are motor guys. Bob was like that, Roth was like that, what kind of a difference do they make?
Ferentz: Players like that add to the mix. They're catalysts for the football team. When you talk about Mitch or Shonn on offense, they fit that bill. They have the ability to make the extra play with their effort, it goes a long way.
Ferentz: Jewel's done a tremendous job, especially for a first-year player. He's always ready, and today's another example of that. He jumped in with a couple nice runs, and he came through with the kickoff return too. He's been playing beyond his years, he's really made the adjustment to campus very well in all regards. We're just really happy for his success.
Q: The defense, bend but don't break, but turnovers were big.
Ferentz: The football field is 100 yards long, so you have to defend every one of those yards. Any time you can keep people from scoring touchdowns. That's where defense starts, not giving up big plays and not giving up TDs. For the most part, we've done a good job of that. If you do those things, it gives you a chance to win some close games, and now it's two weeks in a row we've gotten the job done. Any time you can keep the ball out of the endzone, that's huge. It's just been good to see us win those close games. It's a big part of it.
Q: I know you're not into rating stuff, but if you could, where does that 75-yard run rank?
Ferentz: It was awfully good. I saw it all, and it was awfully good. It was a tough run, first of all, and he showed good speed to pull away at the end. This is 11 weeks in a row that Shonn's showed up and played the same way.
Ferentz: He's just an extremely determined player. We've had a lot of great performers, the one common denominator, personalities are different, positions are different, but the common denominator is the determination and energy those guys play with. Shonn certainly fits in with any of the guys you want to list that's come through in the past decade.
Q: Are you surprised anymore with anything he does?
Ferentz: Not surprised, but impressed, very impressed. As good a part as any has been his humility and his demeanor. He's a team-first guy. It's hard for attention not to be drawn his way, coaches, players, people in general. He's a tremendous performer, but his demeanor is just great.
Q: You've been in the NFL, how much higher could his stock be?
Ferentz: I'm not into evaluating that stuff. When the time comes, we'll sit down and look at all that stuff, talk to people who know what the whole field looks like. Right now I just know he looks pretty good from our sidelines. It's fun to watch him play, it's fun to watch him practice every day.
Q: Where's Trent at, mentally?
Ferentz: Today was a tough day for Trent. It's uncharacteristic, disappointing. But I know he'll bounce back. He's a resilient, tough-minded guy. He'll work through this. All players have to work through slumps or bad days, it's not uncommon.
Q: Was that something sinking in from last week?
Ferentz: I couldn't answer that. It's possible, but I couldn't answer that. What's most important is how he responds, and I'm confident he'll do a great job.
Q: You talked about how the 7th win is critical, but being able to get the extra month of practice…
Ferentz: That's one of the side benefits of playing in a bowl. There are a lot of good things. I don't know of any bad things about playing in bowls. There might be some, but I don't know what those are. Sunburn. People arguing about what gifts they oughta get. I guess I did forget about that, we'll deal with that later. At the end of the day, it's a good thing for everybody. It's a good thing to work younger guys and develop them.
Q: What was your view of the last pass, and when did you know it was safely out of the endzone?
Ferentz: When it hit. We could see what was going on. You just hold your breath on plays like that. The only good thing was that it took a while, so you know the clock was going to be drained, the only thing bad is getting two shots under 5 seconds. Until it's over, you can't relax or feel good about it. When it hit the ground, I felt very good about things.
Q: What were the instructions there, just knock it down?
Ferentz: You just want to make sure it's incomplete and get the heck out of there.
Q: Was there a sense of relief to get the win?
Ferentz: Not relief, just satisfaction. Two weeks ago we all wondered how we were going to handle adversity, a tough setback. The question this week was how we handle a little success, and I think the players handled it in great fashion. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't easy, but that's typically more often, that's how football is. The bottom line is our guys played the full 60 and got the job done. They can feel very good about hat.
Q: Broderick Binns made a couple big plays.
Ferentz: He's a guy who's quietly moving up the charts. He had a good bye week, I don't think we blocked him all week. I joked if he played for another team, we'd be in serious trouble. We didn't block him all week, that was a little disappointing. He's got a real good future, we really like the way he does things.
Q: Does he give you options next year on the DL?
Ferentz: I don't know what options we'll have, but we've got Broderick and Chad Geary that we feel good about playing, so there's four guys. We feel good about the way Karl Klug and Mike Daniels have come on. Cody Hundertmark is rehabbing a shoulder surgery, we'll worry about that when the time comes. You want to have at least 6 or 7 guys in the mix, I think we'll be able to get there.
Q: You've run the gauntlet of RBs, the best RBs in the country, and nobody's gotten 100 except the kid from Maine.
Ferentz: Did he really? (Laughs) That's pretty good, actually.
Q: How have you guys been able to do that?
Ferentz: We're playing pretty solid defense. We've been consistent for the most part. It's just been a cumulative effort, I guess. All defenses want to be sure it's tough to run the ball against them, and we've done a better job this year than we have in the past. I haven't looked at a team statistic in a month. I know the ones that are important, and I think we're doing OK in that category, just be sense.
Q: When Dallas left, he was in the same birthday situation as Shonn.
Ferentz: I'm not sure how important age is. That year you had two guys with obvious choices. You had Dallas and Robert Gallery. Those are things, when the time's appropriate, we'll have those discussions. Most importantly, we'll let people who are really in the know get involved.
Q: Shonn said he's surprised himself, has he surprised you?
Ferentz: I've just been impressed. I continue to be so impressed. Production is one thing, but this guy just comes every week and plays hard. That's what great players do. I think it's fair to say he's a great player. I'll say that now. He's playing great, I'll put it that way.
Ferentz: Pretty good. A couple nicks and bruises, but based on what I know right now, I think we have a shot for everyone to go on Tuesday.
Q: Ballard's OK?
Q: Greenwood's OK?
Ferentz: He'll be OK. Just a bit sore.
Q: There's a lot of great QB play around the country, but does Shonn deserve to be in that Heisman conversation?
Ferentz: Those are comparisons I can't make. I know there are a lot of QBs playing at an extremely high level, I don't want to put the whammy on anyone, but after 11 weeks, I can't imagine anyone playing their position better than Shonn's playing it. Maybe there's someone out there, but I probably would have heard of him by now. That's with all due respect to a lot of good players, I don't mean that in a slighting way. I'm sure there's a better back out there somewhere.
Q: They're playing tomorrow.