Kirk Ferentz: Representative of our spring. I think there are some good things going on on the field, but a lot we need to clean up and work on. We have seen some guys progress, but there is still a lot of loose edges. that is how spring ought to be. We are fairly healthy for the most part. The most serious injury, it looks like Chad Gear has an ACL that is going to have to be repaired, not the extent of Rob Bruggeman, but something similar. Troy Johnson had foot surgery and Joe Gaglione will need shoulder surgery. The guys that have had surgery that are not practicing, we expect them all to be right on schedule.
Q: No Hampton today
Ferentz: he took a good shot last Saturday in the scrimmage, and he worked yesterday and today in non-tackling, but he is fine.
Q: Brinson went off the field too.
Ferentz: It was an ankle. He will be fine in a week or so
Q: Dace Richardson was starting out there today.
Ferentz: That is one of the best stories of the spring, just in that I don't think any of us would have predicted with confidence that it could happen. I wouldn't have through October of last year, but some good things started happening. He has made it through every practice, he looks like he hasn't been out there for a few years, but he has been out there with a smile on his face. He will be a lot better player in September, but you cant get there if you are not out practicing, so I am happy for him. He put a lot of hard work into this. He has always been a good football player, even when he was a freshman. He wasn't experienced then. He was first team today, but we have a lot of things up for grabs and that is a healthy thing. He is capable, and he can play well. As he gets healthier, gets some of that rust off, he has a chance to be a real good football player. If you are not out working, you can't get there.
Q: Do we read anything into the order in which the freshmen quarterbacks played today?
Ferentz: Tell me what it was and I will tell you if you should. Those guys have been splitting time and we are happy with both of them. They both have strengths and weaknesses, and we like the futures they have and the progress they have made. Quarterback is a position where we will see gains between now and September, three young guys. this was a real good period for those guys.
Q: Last spring, you were not happy with spring finale, was today's better?
Ferentz: Today was better. But we are very inconsistent right now. We cant duo much well for a sustained period so we have a lot to work on when we get back in August.
Q: What are the positives you see now?
Ferentz: The attitude has been good since we have been back in January. It starts there. I think the work has been decent. We don't have any real serious health concerns right now. That is good. All that being said, we are in a position where we have a lot of competing going on on the depth chart. For first and second team. That is healthy and we will ride it out through at least half way through camp before we start making decisions. We are very much in transition, but at least I see progress.
Q: Was Marvin willing to change positions to stay a part of the program?
Ferentz: He was really good about that. We recruited him as a quarterback but we knew he was a good athlete with potential at other spots. It became apparent when Rick emerged last fall that his attitude to move was great. he is an outstanding person. There were no issues. Now, he is trying to work through running routes as opposed to just dropping back to throw. His legs were sore all fall. It was a tough road for him, and he is not there yet but this spring has been helpful for him. I think he has a chance to be a good player for us. He has taken some steps in that direction and will continue to improve.
Q: How are things at center or guard, if you had to play tomorrow?
Ferentz: We are not playing tomorrow, so I am not worried about it. There is a group there competing. We will let it go a few weeks in camp and see. It is healthy competition.
Q: Tony talked about how hard it has been for him and Dace to be on the field at the same time. What would it mean if both could be out there together?
Ferentz: It would mean we were a better team. I am not a huge fan of recruiting rankings, but those guys deserved what they got. They both played well at an early age, from the same high school. We would be a better team. I am not worried about Tony, but I was about Dace. We have made huge strides there.
Q: Norm said the other day that Ballard and Clayborn were trying to be King and Kroul.
Ferentz: We will settle for that if we can get it. They should embrace that. They are experienced players and they have had success out there too. I think they have confidence and they have worked hard and set great examples. That is where it all starts. The younger guys are coming along, too. Klug and Daniels have done a decent job. Binns is a guy we saw come on in November and December and he has continued that too. We have a lot of confidence in him as well.
Q: Norm made some comments about the defense.....
Ferentz: No, no, no, absolutely not. I am gonna quit letting him talk to you guys.
Q: Norm talked about Amari.
Ferentz: Oh, that question. He was tooting Amari's horn, the defenses horn. Slow down here, Norm. That being said, Amari was one of the great stories on our team last year. We had a lot of them. From the Amari we had two years ago to last fall, there was a mountain of improvement there. He should play with confidence. We all saw some of his ability on that return against Minnesota. I think the defense has a chance to be good, but we have some questions to answer there.
Q: Have there been any decisions or timelines for the suspended players?
Ferentz: No, not really. They were suspended through the spring, and I haven't thought much about it since then. I will probably start to think about it tomorrow.
Q: How do things look at running back?
Ferentz: That is a question mark for the team. Jewell missed a good part of the scrimmage last week because he got hit pretty good. But when he has been out there this spring, he has looked good. We have seen him in games, and he can get better, but we have a fair idea of what he can do. Paki has been steady, and Brinson has done good this spring. We have a long way to go with him too, and we will take a look at some newcomers in August.
Q: What has Rick Stanzi been able to do this spring?
Ferentz: For the most part, a good job. He is growing and improving. Like every QB, its about decisions and ball security. That is important the way we play. The most growth I have seen from him, and this started before practice, was in the leadership realm. That is what you expect from a guy that has played, that has that confidence. The next step is being a leader and he has done that, and the players respect what he has done and how he works. It's a good thing.
Q: Is Julian a center, or were you just fooling around?
Ferentz: We are looking at it, we are keeping an open mind about everything. We have been thin there. It won't hurt him. We will try to get our five best on the field. We will keep fooling around with that. We have an open mind with everything on the line, but I think we are set at tackle.
Q: Have you settled on a front four on defense?
Ferentz: yes and no. We will get Cody back, and we expect him to be in the equation. I feel good about Binns. We were planning on playing Adrian or Christian inside at the last press conference, but one of the best things I have seen during spring with injuries, we had six or seven linemen, and both of them jumped inside on their own. That is leadership and acting like King and Kroul. they did that on their own. They are thinking right. We will keep an open mind there too.
Q: Is Angerer in that same leadership boat?
Ferentz: He and Rick have both grown as leaders on the team. The players look to them naturally, they are both in leadership positions and have played well on the field. Those are positives for sure. Pat played as well for us as anyone on the team last year. I am thrilled about his growth.
Q: Is there a message being sent to DJK at this point, about not playing much?
Ferentz: He has played this spring. He is competing like everyone else. There are no incumbents. That means you can't get beat out or you are a lock. We have no guarantees. Everyone has to play, compete. That is not so much DJK, Marvin has done a good job, so have some other guys. trey has always been a good player. We have good competition. Paul Chaney has been getting better, Colin has had his moments. Hopefully all of those guys continue to grow because we are hardly home free at receiver.
Q: Do these guys look at the recruits coming in and know they have to pick it up?
Ferentz: I don't know how much guys on campus worry about new guys, but I think you look around the room and know that it will be competitive. Just get the best guys out there. I don't have any favorites, just the best guys on the field. That is how it shook out.
Q: Is there an area on the team where you have genuine concerns?
Ferentz: Yes, and I won't share them. We have a couple hot spots. Besides the general continuity in the spring. Where we had our losses last year, until we get on the field and demonstrate we can play the way we have to, you are never quite sure. It's one of those things, we will know more after four games next fall.
Q: How close is the competition between Hunter and Tarpinian?
Ferentz: It's been good. Now, its the last man standing with injuries. Tarp, we thought he would be our starter a year ago but he couldn't stay healthy. He can play outside behind AJ too. We feel he is a good player and its even. It will make everyone better in practice.
Q: Will Johnson and Gaglione be ready to go in summer?
Ferentz: Troy has a good shot, Joe I am not so sure. Chad, probably not.
Q: Chad by fall?
Ferentz: Yeah, I think he has a chance to get back in. Bruggeman was late fall, I think this is more realistically like Chad Greenway, getting back in OCtober. based on what they saw, it was clean and repairable.
Q: What do you like best so far with this team?
Ferentz: I like our potential. We have a chance. Potential doesn't help you too much in games. At least we have done some good things. We have a chance to be solid in some areas. It depends on what happens. We have a long road in front of us.
Q: Where are you in comparison to where you were a year ago, coming off the WMU loss?
Ferentz: That was disappointing, but we had to move on. The same we have to move on from the great ending this year. In general terms, the only year it looked like we had a lot of work to do was going into the 2007 year. We were a pretty young team at that point. it showed, but we got better as the year went on. The other teams have all had chances to become good. 2002, 2003, 2004 we did well, 2005 was pretty good. I read it was mediocre, but I thought it was a pretty good year. 2006 was disappointing, as we tanked in the second half. that was not about ability or talent, we just didn't get it done. outside of the WMU game, that 2007 team grew each week. It was disappointing, one of the top five of the ones you remember. But we will have enough ability to have a good team as long as we don't step on a couple land mines. Will we develop into a good team is the question. We were good at the turn in 2006, but you have to run the whole race.
Q: What are your feelings on night games?
Ferentz: I am all for night games at home. I think they stink on the road. It's as simple as that. We have a tough road schedule next year. In our conference you always have that. Throw in Iowa State and a couple night games, and the degree of difficulty becomes more steep. If we are going to have a good team we have to handle that challenge. On paper, that is pretty significant. I think we are the only Big Ten team that has to play two night games on the road? A little research project for everyone. Let me know how that comes out. I will be reading the papers. that must mean they like us.
Q: It means you are are photogenic.
Ferentz: Is that what that means? How about nine out of eleven years to open the Big Ten on the road. What does that mean?
Q: You always seem to know that number
Ferentz: Yeah, it always just occurs to me. It didn't help opening at home last year, right?