Q: Do you guys ever talk about the rushing touchdown thing or is that just something you ignore? I'm thinking of a baseball hitter with a streak.
Coach Ferentz: I read it the other day somewhere and that's the first I'd heard of it actually. Maybe in their meetings they've talked about it, but we've never talked about it as a team. We've always put a priority on stopping the run from Day 1. We weren't very good at it in '99. That's kind of how we're built. The other side is that we've played pretty good red zone defense. That's a big part of how we play, too. We need to be really good there.
Q: We talked to Bryan (Bulaga) on that Tuesday (before Iowa State) and he seemed fine. Did something happen between then and practice?
CF: Not at all. One thing about medicine that you learn as you go is that it's a very random thing. The question I had for the doctors is that an old guy like me that isn't doing anything vigorous, I could have the same thing and never know it. He was having a little trouble keeping his weight up. But a lot of our guys have to work to keep the weight on. That was it and then he just started having a little shortness of breath. But it was at least two thirds into the practice. It's just kind of a rare deal, random. The good news is there was nothing…they always start with the worse case scenarios and work backwards. It's unfortunate it's taken this long. It's unfortunate it happened in season, especially for Bryan, but the good news to me is that the wait has been worth it. He's going to be fine.
Q: Was it that Wednesday or Tuesday?
CF: Tuesday (before Iowa State).
Q: Has he been able to put the weight back on?
CF: He looks great. They started to allow him to do some stuff last week. We were looking at the defense and on film you could see him over there doing one on ones with a guy. I was like, oh crap, it would be nice to have him on this field. He was doing some work and had a monitor on and all of that stuff.
Q: Is he off the monitors?
CF: They'll watch him this week, but they basically tried to kill him on the stress test (Monday) and they couldn't do it. I don't think we can simulate what they did to him. I told them that they better hope Doyle doesn't get a hold of that test because he might institute it with all of our players.
Q: Stamina won't be an issue on Saturday?
CF: It might take him a while to get back, but he's a pretty meticulous guy. We'll just roll him through there until he's good to go.
Q: The last few weeks, the guys on the defense have talked about "six seconds." Can you just elaborate on that and what you're emphasizing to them?
CF: That's Norm (Parker) doing that stuff. It's a good illustration. We all heard that in Pop Warner that the game is really like six minutes total. And it is six seconds a clip typically. That was just Norm's way of maybe trying to pull out more energy from our team. And it seems like it's been effective because whatever he told them that week it seems like we've been playing a little bit better. Those guys really listen to Norm, I know that. That's good.
Q: You guys were able to get Derrell Johnson-Koulianos back in the lineup last week. Can you talk about his progression from the injury?
CF: It's unfortunate. He had some injuries in camp, but when he was out there he was really practicing well. He was out there the majority of the time and really doing well. Sandeman we never saw in camp and then Marvin has been out on the field most of the time. Long story short, we just need to get all of those guys out there at once. He's doing well. He's a good player and we expect him to play well. That's what I'm hoping for and I hope all of these guys get their rhythm going. But it's affected our passing game, especially. We're just still too sporadic with everything we're doing. We had some near misses the other day. We had some drops, some balls that could have been a bit better. A lot of that is just timing. It's hard to get that timing when we have a different lineup every day. It's like a different menu all of the time. The same thing up front, we haven't established a boom-boom because it's always something different all the time with people. It would be nice to settle in here and get our tempo going a little bit. We're not there yet but we're playing hard. That's more important.
Q: Did Tony know that it probably wasn't going to work on Saturday when he went out for pregame?
CF: He knew that. I told him Friday that I just don't see this happening. IN my experience, it just doesn't make sense. You put a guy out there at 80 percent who I think is a great football player and he becomes just some guy out there. And if somebody falls on him, we're right back three weeks behind the eight ball again. He'd probably tell you he wants to play tomorrow. And maybe he should. I don't know. We'll figure that out as the week goes on. But sometimes it's like being a parent. You have to tell your kids they can't do something. I have to look at the big picture and I have to do it for him because he deserves to be out on that field playing the way he can play. That's how I look at it.
Q: Do you normally make the call on things like that?
CF: Well, the medical people are always the ones that say yes or no. After that, then it's my call. I can keep somebody off of the field. I can't put them out there, but I can take them off of the field. I'm just going off…certain positions id you get certain injuries you can't be as effective as you should be. A kicker with a neck problem isn't a big deal.
Is this the best your special teams have looked in the last four or five years?
CF: We're off to a good start. But there were a couple of plays…the last kickoff return, which we had it but we just didn't make the play. We had guys in position and we didn't make the play. We need to get consistency there, but at least up until that point we were doing nice there. We made strides on the kickoff return team. We're not far away there, I think. We've done some good things in the punting game. Our field goal kicking has been pretty good, for the most part. Our field goal blocking has been extraordinary and punt block. Boy, that's just some great efforts there that have…you go back to that first ballgame and to this one, those were three critical plays that really changed our season. It's really important. We've always believed that. Fortunately our players believe that, too.
Q: Who was the coach who saw Karl Klug in high school playing linebacker and said, oh yeah, he's a defensive tackle?
CF: That's Reese's area To be honest, we all that that he'd be an end. That was kind of our consensus. In fact, we were all pretty sure. We stumbled in to him playing inside only because people were hurt. We're a pretty thin outfit four years ago so we threw him inside when we had goal line installed that day. Rather than taking our whole installation schedule and tearing it up, we threw him in there. It was Norm's idea. He wanted him in there to have a body in there. He made the same play he made against Penn State last year he made that day. And he makes it every time we try to run the ball down there in goal line scrimmages. He's just got a little knack. Norm came into my office and said this guy might be an inside guy. Maybe we've been looking at this all wrong. I think he'd be pretty good outside, too. Nifty guys inside, it's a tough matchup. He's sneaky strong, too. He doesn't look like your prototype, but he's not bad.
Q: With kickoff return, are you going to keep alternating Brandon and Amari?
CF: Yeah, we'll see. But yeah, we're open right now to we get the combination we're looking for.
CF: Nothing yet. Chris Leak hasn't called, either. I'll be interested. We haven't gotten too far yet. If we get further into the season and are still doing well, maybe we'll see it. But we're kind of running out of seats on the bus right now. I'm not complaining about that. We feel really about where we're at right now.
Q: Are you still thinking 20?
CF: Yeah, right around that area I think. I guess I really can't talk about recruiting other than to say that we really feel good about the guys that are interested in us. They're our kind of guys. Maybe we do better with guys that like us when we're not as pretty. I don't know. I'm just glad with the guys we have on our team.
Q: You described Arkansas State's offense. What would you say about their defense?
CF: They're veteran up front and they're not afraid to bring some guys from different areas. You really have to be alert. They keep you on your toes. It's like their special teams. They play hard. They just keep coming at you. Their guys really play with good energy out there. We're going to have to be working all three areas – offense, defense and special teams.
Q: You said you believed in trap games. Was this specifically timed this way?
CF: Nah, we couldn't do a thing. The Big Ten gave us a void. The big Ten sets the schedule and then we have to schedule around it. We had no control over that. We fill in. The other thing we could have done is play this thing December 23rd or something like that, which would get us ready for our bowl game, assuming we make a bowl. Those are your options. Anyway, that's what we did. No matter who we were playing, we could be playing Southern Cal this week and it would be a trap game with our guys getting patted on the back from last week. So, no matter who your opponent is, somehow you better turn the page and move into the next chapter.
Q: Are your surprised to have been asked a national championship question this early?
CF: Some guy on the phone call asked about politicking for your team and stuff. I've never thought about that in my life. Are you kidding me? And I always think it's a little ridiculous when people do that. But I understand the game. That is a game that gets played. If we get into that neighborhood, that would be great. But I'll defer on it now.
Q: Do you ever catch your players thinking that far ahead?
CF: Oh, I hope not. Gosh, I hope not. I'll show them a couple of plays from Saturday that will give them something to think about more important.
Q: Would you say that Adam is maybe way ahead of where you thought he might have been as a redshirt freshman?
CF: I've had a good feeling about this guy since we scrimmaged a year ago. He didn't always know where he was going, but I just always liked the way he played. He's got a nice demeanor to him. He runs tough. He's not the biggest guy in the world, but he runs tough. That touchdown run, I mean, holy smokes, that was a great run. He's had some efforts. We've had some holes that were pretty bad and he got something out of nothing. To say I would have predicted this, no. That would have been unrealistic. The thing I've been most impressed with both of those guys is that they just seem unfazed by anything that's going on. They really have a nice chemistry between the two of them. They really are genuinely happy for each other. They support each other. Wegher at Iowa State kind of got my attention and then both of them the other night. You'd never know that they were supposed to be a little nervous or intimidated. They just kind of seem oblivious to whatever is going on, and they do their job. They're not oblivious to that, which is kind of uncommon for young guys like that. That's been impressive.
Q: The Mossbrucker situation, do you feel like you're just going to let that play out for the rest of the season and see where it takes you?
CF: Yeah, we'll just keep going. We're not going to take any senseless chances and try to keep our options open, but we're also playing for today. In fairness to our whole football team, that's going to be our mode of operation.